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Want to Attract Top Talent? Turn to Better Benefits

Posted on December 13th, 2017 Read time: 4 minutes

company benefits

Imagine you’re at a holiday get-together with your extended family. Multiple generations — so many backgrounds, experiences, ideas, and opinions — are gathered in one room. Now, figure out a one-size-fits-all job offer you could make that would perfectly entice each and every person to join your company.

If that task seems impossible, that’s because it is.

These days, attracting qualified workers requires more than offering the right salary to full-time employees. For your company to truly compete in this dog-eat-dog market, it’s essential that you beef up your incentives package with a broader menu of benefits — something 57 percent of workers view as a critical element when considering a job.

It’s equally important, however, that you customize your offerings for a diverse and changing talent pool. Although some public policymakers are pushing to make benefits more mobile, forward-thinking companies are offering limited benefits to contingent workers, giving them an edge in recruiting from this growing talent pool.

In the end, only by evolving your benefits program right alongside your workforce can your company stay relevant and successful.

Benefits for the 21st Century

For much of the 20th century, workers were loyal to one employer throughout their entire career. But when World War II reached the U.S. and droves of working men joined the fight, the government issued a wage freeze on businesses to keep inflation at bay. As a result, companies began offering employee benefits to attract workers and fill vacancies.

Shortly after the war, it became mandatory for unions to negotiate and offer select benefits like retirement and healthcare. Eventually, non-union employers felt compelled to offer comparable benefits to remain relevant. And as certain benefits became standard over time, workers began moving from one position to the next in search of the best compensation for their efforts. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the youngest of the Baby Boomers worked an average of 11.9 jobs between the ages of 18 and 50.

Now, in the 21st century, the “traditional” career is all but gone. Although today’s workforce encompasses multiple generations, the newest crop of workers is more self-reliant, more likely to change jobs frequently — on average, every 4.4 years — and more likely to take on gig work. Add in the gender and lifestyle diversity of today’s workforce, and the question of which benefits to offer becomes even more complex.

To ensure your benefits strike a chord across today’s diverse workforce, try offering benefits tailored to each of these four generational groups:

  • Silent Generation: Although the majority of this generation has retired from full-time work, many are still active in the workforce in some capacity. Whether they’re working for financial reasons or just to stay busy, they offer a wealth of experience and knowledge that can elevate young companies.Overall, this group values benefits that focus on health and flexibility — 53 percent reportthat a good work-life balance is critical to job satisfaction. So appeal to this generation by offering reduced workweek schedules, on-call work arrangements, and health benefits for part-time employment.
  • Baby Boomers:Like their predecessors, many Boomers are on the verge of retirement but either have a need or desire to continue working. Some are concerned about maintaining affordable health insurance, while others are still building up their retirement funds.To attract talent from the Boomer generation, consider offering long-term comprehensive health insurance. Generous 401k contributions or retirement packages will also be a hit — a recent Insured Retirement Institute report found that one in four Boomers is counting on an employer-sponsored pension for retirement income.
  • Generation X: Considered by many to be the first hybrid generation of workers, Gen Xers continue to push the envelope on employee benefits. Not only do many from this generation juggle full-time work and parenting, but a growing number are also facing the demands of caring for aging parents.Gen Xers tend to value traditional benefits like health insurance — especially family-friendly, comprehensive plans — and retirement plans the most. But to really win this group over, try offering flexible schedules, paid family leave, childcare assistance, and eldercare referral services as well.
  • Millennials and Generation Z: The youngest generations of workers are notorious for frequently changing jobs and rebelling against “traditional” work environments and schedules. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the benefits they value most center on mobility and flexibility as well.Traditional benefits like retirement and health insurance are a lower priority for Millennials, so don’t make them your main selling point. Instead, highlight benefits like continued education opportunities, professional memberships, paid time off, unlimited vacation, and flexible work arrangements. And because more and more young professionals are turning to contract or temporary work, be sure to extend benefits to these workers as well.

If the holidays can teach you anything, it’s that each generation has its own perspectives, preferences, and interests. So keep your company competitive by expanding, evolving, and customizing your suite of benefits according to the needs of each generation in the workforce. No single-serve solution can attract and retain the many generations you need in your work family.

Tania Fiero is vice president of human resources at Innovative Employee Solutions, a leading nationwide employer of record that specializes in human relations and payroll services. Founded in 1974 in San Diego, IES has grown into one of the city’s largest women-owned businesses and been named one of its “Best Places to Work” for 10 years in a row. 

An expert in joint employment and the Affordable Care Act, Tania helps employers embrace contingent workers in their staffing strategy and culture. She is a Society of Human Resources Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and a Certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) via the Human Resources Certification Institution. Tania previously served on the Board of Directors for the National Human Resources Association of San Diego. She was recognized in 2016 by the San Diego Human Resources Forum Board of Directors at its HR Executive of the Year event and in 2011 by the San Diego Business Journal as San Diego’s HR Professional of the Year.

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