New generation of employees demands updated voluntary benefits, studies show

When deciding which voluntary benefits to offer employees, it can be helpful to consider when they were born, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

In an article published on the SHRM website, Elizabeth Halkos, chief revenue officer at Purchasing Power, explained that Baby Boomers (born 1946-64), Generation X (born 1965-79), and Millennials (born 1980-2000) tend to have different outlooks and motivators. These differences can leave the newest generation of employees feeling that the voluntary benefits offered by some employers don't meet their needs.

Acknowledging the differences and matching benefits to generational needs can help employers "provide for their employees' diverse needs and improve the likelihood of retaining a loyal, motivated workforce as well," Halkos wrote.

Her profile of Millennials, who are currently saturating the veterinary workforce, shows that employers should be prepared to change their mindsets regarding the benefits they offer. 

Characteristics of the average Millennial

According to Halkos, Millennials tend to value professional fulfillment over salary, expect rapid promotion and meaningful salary, change employers frequently, and fear being trapped in routine jobs or eternal internships. They are more likely to stay at jobs if they have personal relationships, multiple tasks, and fast rewards.

And because the average Millennial carries high student debt, they are inclined to favor portable benefits, forced savings, financial education, and concierge services, Halkos said.

When it comes to finances, Millennials can use all the help they can get in the way of benefits that help with saving and managing money, according to an article published in the Atlantic titled "Why Aren't Millennials Saving Money?" The article revealed that:

  • Adults under 35 have a savings rate of -2 percent, according to Moody's Analytics. In 2009, the savings rate of those under 35 was 5.2 percent.
  • A Wells Fargo survey of Millennials reported that 47 percent spend at least half their paychecks relieving various kinds of debt (credit card, mortgage, student loan, etc.).
  • 59 percent of Millennials said they have never seen financial products geared toward them.

Recommended voluntary benefits for Millennials

In response to Millennials' changing views of finances and lifestyles compared to other generations, Halkos listed voluntary benefits that appeal to that population:

  • Employee assistance programs
  • Employee purchase programs
  • Discount programs
  • Financial counseling
  • Flexible spending accounts
  • ID theft protection
  • Tuition assistance
  • Wellness programs

 Read the full blog detailing appropriate voluntary benefits for each generation on the SHRM website.