Employee Benefits Connect: Employers must consider different generations’ needs

Employers should revise the way they deal with employees from different generations, Martha How, reward principal at Aon Hewitt, told delegates at Employee Benefits Connect.

She said employers should determine what kind of benefits tomorrow’s workers would want and how they could tailor reward systems to an ageing population.

Four groups of employees, veterans (born before 1945), baby boomers (born after 1945), generation X (now in their 30s) and generation Y (now in their 20s), all have different needs.

How (pictured) said flexible benefits plans offer a solution. “That’s the only way you can tailor things to their needs,” she said. “But the real question is: how can we grow organisational growth around different generations?”

A workshop for its employees run by Aon Hewitt produced unexpected results, said How. Volunteers were divided according to their age group: three in the 50-plus category, three aged between 30 and 40, and three in their early 20s.

The group was asked what core benefit they valued least. Two baby boomers chose life assurance, which How found counter-intuitive because these employees had dependants. Two staff members in their 30s chose private medical insurance, which also surprised How, because most research studies show that staff become more concerned about health issues from their 30s onwards.

How also asked the employee group what they considered a key quality in an employer. Generation X highlighted corporate social responsibility and charity programmes, while two baby boomers picked having fun with colleagues.

“There is something here that says we are over-generalising,” she said. “We need to think about benefits in different ways.”

How extended the research to a group of 100 staff, but results were similar. “Across all respondents, the number one benefit they didn’t think was important was PMI,” she said.