Benefits by Bracket – Adjusting Offerings for Different Age Groups

Benefits by Bracket – Adjusting Offerings for Different Age Groups

Employees are choosy in 2021, so employers have to adapt. People aren’t just looking at jobs, they’re taking a complete look at companies, benefits, and lots of other factors before accepting an offer. The stage of a person’s life has a big impact on what they’re seeking. Younger and older workers have totally different needs. Based on the type of person that employers are trying to attract, benefit offerings should be tailored to fit preferred age groups.

With the rise in availability of voluntary benefits, or variable packages, companies now have a lot of options to meet the needs of diverse employee populations. This also helps control costs, since workers typically select only what appeals to them.

Breaking down age groups into three broad categories, although there are technically five generations active in the U.S. workforce currently, we’ve gathered several benefit offerings to consider that are sure to keep your workers of various ages happy.


Five Generations in the Workforce Today

Generation, birth year range, and percentage of workforce.

  • Traditionalists (1925 to 1945), 2%
  • Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964), 25%
  • Generation X (1965 to 1980), 33%
  • Millennials (1981 to 2000), 35%
  • Generation Z (2001 to 2020), 5%

Source: Purdue University Global


Younger Workers

There are many companies throughout Indiana that recruit directly from colleges and universities for fresh talent. Traditional benefits like health insurance and a retirement plan are still ranked among the most important types of benefits to offer for this age range, and for older workers too. But there are a few other newer benefit trends that are becoming highly attractive to younger demographics, including things like flexible work arrangements and student debt repayment assistance.

Flexible work arrangements are relatively inexpensive to start at most companies. Options for things like working remotely or on a flexible schedule are great ways to provide younger workers with the work-life balance they’re typically seeking.

Student debt repayment is a newer formal benefit offering that has been rapidly gaining popularity. With so many graduates leaving school with mountains of debt, it’s easy to understand why. To support employees as they tackle this debt, companies have been offering student loan assistance in several different forms. Some choose to offer a substantial signing bonus to immediately satisfy a chunk of the total, while others opt to a repayment matching program. Another form involves matching student debt payments with contributions to a retirement plan, so young employees can build savings as they pay off their debt.


Middle-Aged Workers

Workers in the middle of their lives are in a unique position. Sometimes they’re referred to as the “sandwich generation” because it’s common for workers in this age range to be caring for their children and their aging parents simultaneously. Much like younger workers, flexible work options are hugely important for this age bracket. Beyond that, additional programs that support middle-aged workers with their responsibilities are highly desired. That is, childcare and elder care support.

The pandemic truly made childcare a major workplace issue. Half of the companies that lost workers lost them because of childcare concerns, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. One of the easiest ways a company can support employee childcare is by providing a subsidy to cover part of the cost. The good news with that is there are potential tax credits that companies can secure as a reward.

Common offerings to support elder care come in several different forms, typically expanded employee assistance programs (EAPs) or dependent care assistance plans (DCAPs). EAPs for elder care will often include counseling, assessments, education, and even referral services for employees. They may also include respite care, which provides backup relief for primary caregivers. DCAPs enable employees to set aside tax-free dollars for qualified elder care, with IRS limits of $5,000.


Older Workers

Although retirement is an achievement to be encouraged, many employers face tough situations where they need an older employee to remain with the company for as long as possible. To retain these skilled individuals, several important benefits are often leveraged.

Again, this age group rates traditional benefits and flexible work options among its top desired benefits. One key difference is that health coverage for part-time workers ranks much higher for older workers than others.

Phased retirement programs are another hot benefit for older workers. Under typical phased programs, employees are able to work part time and draw some of their retirement money, which can often put them at their full salary with their other traditional benefits. Certain industries such as those with pension programs may have a tougher time implementing this, however.

Additionally, other benefits like long-term care insurance, financial and estate planning services, travel discount programs, and even pet insurance are all very popular with among older employees in today’s workforce.


Simple Adjustments, Happier Employees

With such variety among worker needs based on their age, companies will have to be capable of adjusting their benefits if they want to hang onto their people. Fortunately, with just a few modifications and new additions, most employers can build benefit packages that please workers at any stage in their lives. This will keep people happy and will ensure companies retain their top talent.

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