Offering Employee Benefits for Different Generations

Offering Employee Benefits

Offering Employee Benefits for Different Generations

Offering employee benefits for different generations requires employer creativity. Because the current workforce spans four generations the challenge becomes offering employee benefits to a workforce with a variety of needs and priorities. In most cases the employer is faced with offering employee benefits for a vastly diverse employee-base. To attract and retain talent in a hot labor market, employers should be offering employee benefits tailored to each generation’s specific needs ( Traditional, one-size-fits-all benefit offerings simply don’t satisfy employees’ unique values and preferences like they used to.

According to the Grand Rapids Business Journal (GRBJ), article the four generations currently in the workplace, are separated by as much as 50 years, and they include: traditionalists (born 1922-1945, 1% of the workforce), baby boomers (born 1946-1964, 27% of the workforce), Generation X (born 1965-1979, 27% of the workforce), and millennials (born 1980-1997, 44% of the workforce). When considering offering employee benefits for different generations, it’s important for employers to consider each generation’s unique values, along with their needs. As outlined in the GRBJ article, the primary priorities of each generation are:

Traditionalists: Looking for security, consistency, loyalty, conservatism and respect.

Baby Boomers: Interest in pushing boundaries, innovating, experimenting, trying new things and having a good time.

Generation X: Wanting to be heard, independent, hardworking, self-sufficient, and technologically savvy.

Millennials: Seeking a work-life balance – including family, a positive environmental with social impact capability and to be part of a mission in which they believe.

The GRBJ article also provided a robust list of “outside the box” ideas for employers considering offering employee benefits for different generations.  Below is a subset of that longer list:


  • Phased retirement (paring back their hours gradually to 10 to 30 hours a week, then contract, then paid hourly for on-call consulting and advice)
  • Health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), when employees or retirees are reimbursed for healthcare-related expenses not covered by traditional Medicare, Medicaid or employee group plans
  • Two-way mentoring programs where older and younger employees support each other
  • Retirement coaches to help ease the transition to the post-work years


  • High deductible health plans (HDHPs) with tax-advantaged health savings accounts (HSAs)
  • Pre-retirement workshops to help them figure out where to start preparing for an imminent retirement
  • Mindfulness programs
  • Sabbatical 

Generation X

  • Child care benefits
  • Financial literacy awareness and wellness programs
  • 529 or college savings plans
  • Paid time off, flexible schedules, and remote work days


  • Student loan repayment, with employers administering debt repayment contributions — preferred twice as much as matching contributions for retirement
  • Financial literacy
  • Bring your own device stipend
  • Remote work

Clearly, when it comes to offering employee benefits for different generations, there are a plethora of opportunities for employers to explore. Spice up your benefits offerings, and if it makes sense (and it probably does), survey your employees across generations to find out what’s most important to them, and accommodate them where you can. Meeting their needs by offering employee benefits for different generations makes for happy employees, and higher recruiting and retention rates, too. Offering employee benefits targeted to your employees’ needs is both good for your employees, and it’s good for your business!


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