July 29, 2013

Benefits: Different Strokes for Different Folks

 business people on 3d abstract wayRetaining star employees is vital to the success of any company. Keeping turnover low saves time, money, improves workplace morale and does wonders for your employer brand.

Every employee is different, as is what motivates him or her. Knowing what your employees value is the key to keeping them satisfied, and can be the key to retaining them for years to come.

The more tailored you can make your perks, the better; but for some companies simply addressing commonalities within the generations can give them a head start. Here are some insights on the desires of your employees when it comes to benefits, broken down by generation*:


How to retain millennials may be the wrong question. It’s more important to this generation to feel like they are part of something and they are learning and growing with the company. They don’t have the same desire to stay at one company forever like previous generations. So how do you solve the problems millennials can bring?

First, it is important to understand that they don’t live to work, they work to live. Millennials see work as a means to support their entire lives. They rarely think in terms of hours in the office, they think in terms of completing a project. In other words, time is the most valued reward you can offer this group. Paid time off, vacation time, part-time work, and flex-work/telecommuting are just a few ways you can give them what they really want.

Don’t expect a millennial to think in 6- or 12-month ranges when it comes to goal setting. Back into shorter and more attainable goals in rapid succession is a great way to keep a millennial interested and working hard.

And whatever you do, don’t take away their tech freedom. This is a generation that grew up with amazing technological advancesthe iPhone is practically melded to their handand there is no reason to expect them to begin throwing their smart phones in the trash now. A good way to lose a millennial is by enforcing strict social media policies or banning the use of their favorite devices. This is a clear sign of mistrust, which shows that they are emphatically NOT part of something.

Gen Xers

With this particular group it is almost easier to relate what they don’t want. Gen Xers have become increasingly fed up with office politics, ladder climbing and a lack of fulfillment from their work.

Since Gen X comes largely from single-parent families, this generation termed the “latch-key” kids, is self-sufficient and independentLose a great Gen X worker by micro-managing them. They don’t respond well to an over-controlled environment. They are known for their pride in their capabilities, and to undermine that can mean losing a loyal and productive employee.

This generation also values work-from-home options (no surprise, a recent SHRM survey reported that 79 percent of workers would prefer this situation), so do what you can to set up their work schedule to be flexible to accommodate family needs and help make them more productive.

Baby boomers

While they are known for their loyalty and long tenures, this generation is getting to the point where they don’t have to work any longer. They are retiring in droves, but we still need their seasoned expertise and mentoring abilities in our workplaces. Don’t leave them in the dust, but don’t force unwanted changes on them. They are a generation of hard workers who value a company that plays by the rules and sticks to their policies.

They are also at a stage in life where financial security is of the utmost importance. Let them know what you have in the way of retirement packages, 401Ks, pensions and stock plans. Don’t wait for them to seek this information out, offer it to them.

Don’t be afraid to ask a boomer to help mentor the new kids on the block. They don’t view this as an annoyance, they are happy to share their knowledge and pass the torch. It’s a compliment when you show boomers that you would like this new generation to emulate their work ethic and loyalty.

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Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space. Hogan speaks and writes on all career and workforce related subjects. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and SMBs around the globe. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B Marketing Agency that serves clients in the U.K., Africa, China, Israel, Europe and North America. Primarily focused on the Human Resources and Global Workforce vendors, Red Branch Media handles clients of all shapes and sizes.
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