If you’re an HR director struggling with ways to increase retention and employee morale while attracting top talent, this decade brings unique challenges. Baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964), Generation X (born 1965 to 1980), and millennials (born 1981 to 2000) share the workplace with the new, self-named “Founder” generation, or Generation Z, entering the workforce soon as interns or new college grads. Each generation has very unique needs and different definitions of a “good company.” Let’s take a look at what each generation expects from their employers, based on recent research.
Employee Perspective: Millennials
Often perceived as the “I want it now” generation, 20- and 30-somethings aren’t nearly as selfish as society may think. Although they are ambitious, some of their career goals are selfless. In a recent study by The Intelligence Group, 64 percent of millennials say they want to “make the world a better place,” through their work. And 88 percent prefer a collaborative, rather than competitive, work culture, according to the same report.
Millennials seek flex-time, but it’s all in the name of better work-life integration. They don’t mind being “always-on,” mentally – and using technology to stay in touch — if it means they can leave the office to take part in community or volunteer activities.
What does an ideal office look like to a Millennial? It may have an open floor plan, with room for a ping-pong table or other diversion. Millennials are about getting the job done while they’re having fun.
Employee Perspective: Generation X
Also known as the “Sandwich Generation” caught between caring for aging parents and school-age children, employees in their late 30s and early 40s want flex-time and telecommuting options.
More so than other generations, Gen X workers are likely to take advantage of 401(k) retirement programs, fitness and wellness programs, and any other benefits that allow them to embrace a better work-life balance to spend time with their families. When Gen Xers are off, they expect to be off, so vacation time or a shortened work week appeals to them.
Additionally, benefits like continuing education and on-site childcare are likely to attract – and keep – top talent from this generation.
Employee Perspective: Baby Boomers
Like Millennials and Gen Xers, Boomers also want flexibility, but it may look more like a phased retirement plan so they can continue working in a part-time capacity. Since one of the greatest challenges in today’s workplace is preserving and transferring Boomers’ organizational knowledge to the next generations, phased retirement permits the perfect opportunity for Boomers to stay on, part-time, in mentoring roles.
Boomers are also looking for good healthcare and life insurance benefits, and many are likely to take advantage of wellness benefits.
Across the board, employees desire a good Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) healthcare plan, and 47 percent of employees say their healthcare plan is one of the main reasons they stay with an organization.
What Do Your Employees Want? Ask Them!
Of course, these studies and reports are generalizations, and not every employee from a specific generation is going to want the same thing. Each generation, of course, seeks career fulfillment, but that concept looks different to each age group.
Remember that not all perks or benefits carry a price tag – everything from office layout to company culture, activities, and management structure can increase employee satisfaction, sometimes at a very low cost. Pulse surveys can help you gauge employee morale, discover how fulfilled your employees feel, and discover which benefits employees use most and what areas they feel are lacking.
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