How to Keep a Multigenerational Workforce Happy

Multigenerational Workforce

When a hiring manager is lucky, the hiring process is like a seller’s market — the supply of potential employees exceeds demand. But with the brightest employees, it’s usually a buyer’s market. The best employees have their pick of employers. That’s why it’s imperative to offer the total employment package: not just a competitive salary, but perks and strong benefits as well.

In fact, 59 percent of employees surveyed in the 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report (AWR)¹ admit they’re at least somewhat likely to take a job with slightly lower pay but a more robust benefits package. Broken down by generation, this number is fairly consistent (58-63 percent) except for those from the silent generation (36 percent), who may be eligible for Medicare. As this generation retires and the number of millennials at work grows, recruiting and retention best practices will continue to evolve.

Four Generations Working Side by Side

Here’s how the four major generations in the workplace today are commonly defined.*

Multigenerational Workforce 1

*As defined by Pew Research Center. AWR data varies slightly, with Gen X represented as 1966 – 1980, baby boomers as 1947 – 1965 and the silent generation as 1946 and before.

Offering Benefits Isn’t Enough — Employers Must Also Educate

In some cases, the 2015 report findings confirm what we might assume about employees as they gain life and work experience.

For example, older employees are more likely to have a financial plan in place. This makes sense, considering they’re closer to retirement.

Younger employees are more likely to prefer to enroll in health insurance online. No surprise there. But it is surprising that millennials are more likely than other generations to say they’d be more informed about benefits choices if they sat with an insurance consultant during enrollment.

Here’s another surprising finding. Millennials are the most formally educated (they have more college degrees and are more likely to attend graduate school than any other generation of young adults)² .  And they are the most positive about health care reform. Yet, they’re the least prepared to take more control of their health care options.

Multigenerational Workforce 2

Employee opinions on health care reform, control, education and communication. Answers reflect those who said they completely or strongly agree.

When a company offers strong benefits, it can tip the employment scale in its favor. How? Simply by clearly and regularly communicating to employees and recruits the benefits it offers, why those benefits are valuable and how to take advantage of them.

Persuading Good Employees to Stay

Some other report findings might come as a surprise, too.  For example, 59 percent of millennials report being extremely or very satisfied with their jobs — yet they’re also looking to leave. Of the four generations, millennials most often report being likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months. Still, you can retain them. Millennials are the most likely to be influenced by retention strategies, including higher pay, greater flexibility and new growth opportunities, to stay.

In addition, 39 percent of millennials said employers could keep them in their jobs by improving their benefits packages. Only Gen X, at 42 percent, was higher.

Understanding Multigenerational Workforce Needs

Perhaps because their grandparents are living longer, millennials are realistic when it comes to understanding personal health risks. They’re more likely than earlier generations to say it’s extremely or very likely that they or a family member could be diagnosed with cancer or a chronic disease, become disabled or need long-term care.

Still, younger generations have less financially to put toward such events. Millennials are more likely to say they regularly underestimate the total cost of illness or injury. They are more likely to use a credit card to pay for unexpected health costs.

And they’re more satisfied with their current benefits than other generations. That’s true even though they’re less likely to be enrolled in benefits like disability and voluntary insurance. And they are less likely than all but the silent generation to have major medical and life insurance.

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One way employers can help employees cover out-of-pocket costs and stay focused on the job rather than distracted by financial burdens is by offering voluntary insurance benefits. Aflac pays policyholders directly (unless otherwise assigned) when they get sick or hurt.

Are Your Company’s Benefits Meeting Employee Needs?

Competitive employers can’t afford to skimp on benefits if they want to attract, hire and keep the best employees. Smart employees of all working-age generations understand the value of a strong benefits package. But it’s important to keep in mind that more than one in three American workers today are Millennials. In 2015, they surpassed Gen X to become the largest share of the American workforce.³

The oldest Millennials are in their mid-30s.  Millennials are established in their careers, and may have families of their own. They’re no longer the “kids” in the office — in some cases, they’re running the office.

As you can see, multigenerational workforce needs vary.  We cannot make assumptions.

We as business owners we must examine benefits in terms of what Millennials need. Otherwise we risk overlooking the largest and fastest-growing candidate pool. And in turn, we risk being overlooked.

¹ The 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report is the fifth annual Aflac employee benefits study examining benefits trends and attitudes. The study, conducted in Jan. 2015 by Research Now, captured responses from 1,977 benefits decision-makers and 5,337 employees from across the United States, at companies with at least three employees. To learn more about the Aflac WorkForces Report, visit

² The Council of Economic Advisers. “15 economic facts about millennials.” October 2014. Accessed June 9, 2015.

³ Fry, Richard. “Millennials surpass Gen Xers as the largest generation in U.S. labor force.” Pew Research Center. May 11, 2015. Accessed June 9, 2015.

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One Reaction
  1. I think more research has to be done in this area. It is not that data is not enough. It is just an interesting phenomenon to look into. Imagine, the workplace is now comprised of different generations of different personalities. It is quite interesting to see how they differ and how they work together.