How to Tailor Benefits for a Multi-Generational Workforce

August 31, 2021 |read icon 6 min read

Employees today want more than basic health plans and perks. They are looking for substantial benefits that meet a range of personal and family needs. Most employers have four, some even five or six, generations of employees working side by side. Many businesses offer various levels of benefits and perks to accommodate workforce needs and avoid discrimination. They survey employees regularly to monitor changing needs and adjust benefit programs as needed. Consider these tips on how to tailor benefits for a multi-generational workforce.

Baby boomers

For many businesses, their oldest group of employees are from the baby boomer generation. They were born between 1946 and 1964, comprising about 2.4% of the workforce.

Many baby boomers report that the most desirable benefits are medical, dental and vision insurance. Boomers appreciate well-being perks and retirement benefits, too. They also want fitness programs to help them keep active as they age. Many boomers have student loan debts, so they seek financial wellness programs, such as student loan repayment assistance.

Many baby boomers are working past the traditional retirement age because they want to. This is good for employers because these workers have extensive expertise that contributes to their employers’ success. But if they are working part-time, these semi-retired workers may not qualify for employer-sponsored health benefits. Businesses can keep these valuable team members on the job by offering access to individual health, dental and vision coverage and other wellness perks. Individual insurance plans can be purchased and paid for online to meet a variety of needs.

Generation X

Employees in the Generation X group were born between 1965 and 1980. These workers account for 33% of the workforce. Gen X is often overlooked despite their experience and contributions to the workplace. Many businesses focus more energy on attracting and keeping younger workers.

Health benefits, like medical, dental and vision coverage, are the most desirable benefits to Gen X employees. Many workers in this group are busy raising families. Some also are caring for aging baby boomer parents. Benefits that help employees meet these needs, such as childcare or dependent care assistance, are highly valued.

Business experts say that Gen X employees don’t want flexibility, they require it. Work-life balance is essential to help them handle their many family and personal responsibilities. Employers who offer work flexibility and the right benefits can keep Gen X employees on the job and engaged.

Many Gen Xers also are burdened with extensive student loans and worry about paying off these debts. Employers should offer financial well-being programs to help workers with student loans and save for retirement.


Millennial employees were born between 1981 to 2000. They compose about 50% of today’s workers. Business forecasters expect that by 2030, about 75% of the workforce will be made up of millennials. They change jobs more often than other generations. About 21% of millennials report switching jobs within the last year, and 60% are open to different opportunities. Employers need to offer a mix of benefits to keep them engaged.

The most desirable benefits are employer-sponsored health insurance – medical, dental and vision coverage – as well as 401(k) retirement matching programs.

Over 14 million millennials have student loan debt, more than any other generation. Many have an average balance in debt of $38,877. So, they want to work for employers who provide a student loan benefit to help them pay it off. With fewer financial worries, employees can be more engaged at work. And they will stay longer because they are partnering with their employers to reduce their debt.

Work flexibility also is a priority for millennials. They treasure their independence and don’t like to work the typical 9-to-5 business schedule. About 34% of millennials have quit their jobs because work flexibility was not an option.

Generation Z

The youngest generation of workers is known as Generation Z. Born between 2001 to 2020, they have similar benefit needs as millennials.

When Gen Zers first joined the workforce, many of them didn’t appreciate employee benefits. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, Generation Z has experienced financial setbacks. Many were furloughed or lost jobs. So they now recognize the security benefits provide to help them deal with unexpected health needs.

In addition to health benefits, Gen Z workers want well-being benefits that support their overall health. Of particular importance are mental health benefits, such as access to an Employee Assistance Program and counseling. They also appreciate help with their student loan payments like other generations.

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