Work/Life Balance Issues September 19, 2013

How to Offer Employee Benefits that Attract X and Y gen


Hiring young, motivated staff can be vital to keeping any organisation fresh and up to date. However, according to a new study commissioned by Barclays , many employers are failing to offer the benefits package most likely to attract the sought after X and Y generations. 

Talking About My Generation: Exploring the Benefits Engagement Challenge, is written by Paul Redmond, director of employability and educational opportunities at the University of Liverpool. His study divides the workforce into five different generations:

  • Maturists - born pre-1945
  • Baby Boomers - born between 1945 and 1960
  • Generation X - born between 1961 and 1980
  • Generation Y - born between 1981 and 1995
  • Generation Z - born after 1995

One of the study’s major findings was that most of the benefits designed to attract employees are mainly designed for the baby-boomer generation now approaching retirement.

Pension Vs mortgage

However, the five different age groups which Mr Redmond identified have very different needs. While 53% of Baby Boomers are focused on saving for retirement, 41% of Generation X is focused on paying off their mortgage and 30% of Generation Y is focused on paying off unsecured debt.

The idea that the one-size-fits-all benefits package is equally attractive to all five groups fails to acknowledge the different needs of the contemporary workforce. With employee benefits designed almost exclusively by the Baby Boomer generation, almost nine out of ten Gen Y and Gen X workers are left dissatisfied by their benefit offering, according to the report.

Quit job

The failure to meet these increasingly disparate needs meant that 15 per cent of employees born between 1981 and 1995, and a further 12 per cent of employees born after 1996, had considered leaving their job in the past 12 months to join employers which offered better benefits packages.

So what do Gen X and Y want? A little under two-thirds of Gen Y workers want their employer to offer financial education and guidance as part of their benefits package. However, 83% of all those surveyed said that such advice was not available to them.

Financial advice 

Almost half (42%) of Gen Y employees said that they would value help with a mortgage deposit and a quarter (25%) would value access to a personal banker through work. This was available to just 4% of all respondents. 

Redmond explains: ‘The existence of a multi-generational workforce has significant implications for today's employers. From our research and focus groups we discovered hugely different lifestyle priorities and financial concerns among these different generational groups as well as different requirements when it comes to benefits.

‘We found that there is great demand among all generational groups for flexibility and tailoring of packages but significantly, the research highlighted the fact that traditional benefits packages are not meeting the expectations and lifestyle needs of the younger generations in particular.’

Adapt to survive 

Barclays corporate and employer solutions director Katharine Photiou said employers are faced with a situation in which ‘they must adapt to survive’.

‘Most stark from the research is the fact that the expectations of the younger generations in today's workforce are not being met by the benefits currently on offer, an area of growing frustration for this group,’ she said.

‘For HR professionals, focusing their benefits strategy to better meet the needs of the younger generations while developing and promoting top talent - the future leaders and managers - must be a crucial imperative.’


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