United Kingdom

Engaging a multi-generational workforce with employee benefits

May 2019

Multi-Gen workforce

We’ve seen various reports recently stating that millennials are less likely to engage with rehabilitative benefits, preferring instead to opt-in to lifestyle benefits such as discounted retail vouchers or gym memberships.

In our experience, we’ve found that it is often the cultural benefits which employees find more engaging and are the reasons they join and stay at an organisation – regardless of age. Policies which influence the work/life balance (such as agile/flexible working and sabbaticals), onsite facilities (gyms/dining facilities) and the overall wellbeing strategy (occupational health, seminars, workshops, apps, time out for exercise and self-improvement) are attractive propositions across all age groups. From our conversations with clients we’ve found that Millennials and Generation Zs place higher importance on professional development and career opportunities, as well as the working environment and social events – including clubs and societies. Millennials and Gen Zs also prefer companies who have a strong community impact, and Gen Zs are influenced by a company’s D&I policies.

It is highly likely that there are other factors influencing employees’ benefits preferences beyond generational boundaries, such as earnings level and other lifestyle considerations – familial support, financial position, and health.

Providing benefits for multiple generations

Our 2019 Benefit and Trends Survey highlighted the challenge faced by companies looking to provide useful and valued benefits for their employees; 89% of respondents reported that they will have to change their benefits offering to meet the needs of future generations entering the workforce. A holistic approach to benefits which focuses on the wider employee value proposition (EVP) will help ensure that companies have an attractive environment for all generations. An EVP supported by a strong communication strategy – incorporating the effective use of technology – will enable employers to attract, retain and engage employees of all ages.

Tips for engaging a multi-generation workforce

According to Aon’s 2019 Benefit and Trends survey, 98% of companies stated that they wanted to improve employee engagement and understanding of the benefits offered to them – but only 37% of companies have an engagement strategy in place.

1) Engage early, and often

Many companies provide an initial introductory overview of the benefits they offer, with optional additional annual pension reviews in association with the pension provider. Benefit uptake is often then lower than expected, perhaps because the benefits are not immediately relevant or required. Frequent communication highlighting the opportunities available will ensure that employees can easily access support as and when required.

2) Use multiple channels

Whilst benefits preferences may not vary by generation, communication preferences will. Our research showed that the < 35 age group were highly receptive to social media and face-to-face communication, with shorter messages and less desire for detail unless actively sought. Those 35 and older were more receptive to paper and email communications, with some in the group preferring all details in booklet format. Having a multi-channel approach is critical to ensure you’re effectively engaging across all generations within your business.

3) Use storytelling

Contextualising your benefits demonstrates their value to your employees, and as a consequence can improve uptake. Giving real world examples will help employees understand which benefits best fit their circumstances – asking hypothetical questions around your benefits offerings (e.g. ‘what financial plans do you have in case of critical illness?’) may make them think about considerations they’d previously overlooked.

4) Segment by lifestyle factors

Although segmenting employees generationally may seem like an appropriate method to improve engagement, companies may find more success in retaining cross-generational engagement programmes – there may be added value in peer-to-peer support from older employees who have already faced the challenges encountered by the younger generations. Segmenting your audience by other lifestyle commonalities may be more effective; you could run a tailored session on benefits for families aimed at parents within your organisation.

Aon provides consultative support for companies looking to improve their benefits engagement. Whether you’re struggling to find the right channel or the right message, we can help optimise your approach.

For more information or to discuss any of the issues outlined in this article, please get in touch by emailing us at [email protected] or calling us on 0344 573 0033.


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