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How to address the money concerns of different generations in the workplace

As an employer, getting the mix of your employee benefits right takes planning and an understanding of the different generational concerns within your workforce.

A typical workforce contains four generations, each with different life experiences, value systems and outlooks. Taking the time to understand the financial nuances of each generation within your workplace can help to shape the package of benefits you make available to your employees.

One of our employer surveys revealed that 89% of employers felt that financial worries could have an impact on the performance of their team members. It therefore pays to make sure the right benefits and support are in place for the financial needs of your workforce, whose interpretation of financial “need” varies hugely, based on their current life stage.

Click here to download your free guide to learn about the wellbeing needs of each generation and how you can develop a health and wellbeing strategy that supports everyone.  

Money concerns of Generation Z (age 18 - 25)

The youngest members of your workforce are likely to have concerns around debt, due to the high costs incurred during higher education. This generation has paid dearly for student loans and accommodation at university.

The gravity of this financial burden means Generation Z typically seek employment that will justify their monetary, academic, and emotional investment in higher education. Furthermore, having grown up in a recession and having witnessed a widening gap between rich and poor, this group value job security. Money concerns amongst Generation Z seem to be increasing in magnitude, which suggests a tendency to plan for the future, particularly amongst the upper (and maturing) end of this generation.

When it comes to engaging with this part of your workforce, digital technologies are your friend. You can roll-out employee benefits initiatives online via a portal, an intranet, or an interactive microsite. It’s not necessarily an increase in salary that is sought by Generation Z. On the monetary side of things, consider incentives such as travel season ticket loans and a cash back plan on everyday healthcare costs.

In fact, research carried out by Benenden Health found that Generation Z employees would be willing to sacrifice a whopping third of their salary to receive a healthcare package that fits their personal needs. These gestures provide immediate improvements to their lifestyle and help alleviate anxiety about additional costs for everyday healthcare such as dental and optical, which may not have been budgeted for. Grants and bursaries may be difficult to unlock during the current climate, but do consider them if appropriate, as a means of offering security in return for a length of service commitment from this generation. Your youngest employees will also likely be receptive to learning modules on personal finances, budgeting, and debt management.

Money concerns of Millennials (age 26 - 40)

The outlook of Millennials (Generation Y) is very different to that of Generation Z, yet their financial needs can be met with similar solutions. Millennials will remember the shortage of work that was available to them immediately post-graduation, due to the recession.

This generation emerged from higher education in varying financial states, with the start of higher tuition fees signalled for the 2006-2007 intake. As such, a significant proportion of this generation share similar concerns to Generation Z over mounting debt.

Given their age and emerging milestones, mortgage rates, an overall lack of affordable housing and the future of the NHS are of significant concern to this generation, whose attention is now turned towards purchasing a property and planning for the future. This generation’s financial anxieties are a melting pot of concerns, linked to poorer performance on the job.

Private healthcare benefits will resonate with this portion of your workforce, as will a cashback plan on everyday healthcare costs. One of the strongest remedies to financial anxieties is education, so do consider offering finance workshops and seminars to your employees.

Money concerns of Generation X (age 41 - 56)

We often refer to Generation X as the “forgotten” generation, many of whom were the first to come from divorced families. Generation X grew up during unsettling times, witnessing the great rises and falls of the dotcom boom.

As such, Generation X straddles the traditional “bricks and mortar” world, along with the online. This has made them typically hardworking and hungry for success, with many now at the pinnacles of their career. Financially, their concerns are more evolved, with the focus being around mortgages, childcare costs, and the investment of putting their children through education.

A complex generation, this section of your workforce may be balancing caring for elderly dependents – and the associated costs – with planning for their own later life future. As such, employers will need to respond to their financial concerns with a different approach. Benefits such as childcare assistance and flexible working policies will make a huge difference in continuing to engage this very powerful part of your workforce. Similarly, generous maternity, paternity and sick pay will ensure loyalty and retention.

Money concerns of Baby Boomers (age 57 - 73)

Baby Boomers come from an era of free education, affordable housing and government subsidies. It can be all too easy to assume that those within this generation are set-up for life, but their pension provision is far from the case. Many of this group have little to no pension, with inadequate savings to support retirement. The younger end of the spectrum is likely to have elderly dependents, whose care serves to contribute to this financial strain.

Employers would be well advised to look at education for this ageing proportion of their workforce. Retirement planning workshops and access to financial advisors during lunch are superb initiatives to offer. Looking at flexible retirement options can allow you to retain some of your most valued employees whilst giving them some security in easing themselves – financially and emotionally – into retirement.

The risk of overlooking common financial needs

The Independent recently reported that we tend to pigeon hole Millennials as the debt-ridden generation, to the detriment of understanding the financial needs of other generations. This has an interesting bearing on your employee benefit provision for a multi-generational workforce. It is certainly important to understand the experiences, current life stages and aspirations of each generation. However, from this, your overall package should encompass several benefits that appeal across the board. These include education, flexible working, debt management and a healthcare provision.

The common denominator

From the youngest to the oldest of your workforce, being healthy and not having to worry about healthcare costs resound as common concerns. Many employers have overlooked the option of private healthcare based on perceptions of cost. That said, a healthcare provision is the most highly coveted employee insurance benefit, so it must be considered as an integral component to your talent attraction and retention strategy.

For more information on managing the wellbeing needs of your multigenerational workforce, take a look at our guide which includes detail on the physical, emotional and financial needs of each generation, as well as how you can help to support each need as an employer.

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Download our guide to support your multigenerational workforce by launching an age-inclusive wellbeing strategy

This guide helps employers understand the specific health and wellbeing needs of every generation in their workforce

• Defining the multigenerational breakdown of employees

• The wellbeing needs of a workforce

• Develop a strategy for a multigenerational workforce


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