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  • Dillon Knight Kalkhurst

What Employee Benefits Motivate Generation X

For the first time in history, there are five generations active in the workforce. Smart and forward-thinking companies are benefiting from a new kind of diversity, Age Diversity. While Age Diversity can bring a lot of unique viewpoints and management styles to your organization, it can also present a host of challenges especially around management, motivation, and communications. I will talk about generational management and communications preferences in a future post. For this series, I want to focus on the types of benefits each generation seeks. It is important that you take these preferences into consideration when recruiting, managing and creating benefits packages to meet your “Age Diverse” team’s wants and needs.

I mentioned that there are five current generations in the workforce today. We will leave the Silent Generation out and focus on the younger four generations as they occupy the majority of the workforce today. Yesterday, we concentrated on the Baby Boomers. Today’s post will provide a little insight on Generation X in the workplace and how you can use the right benefits to keep your Gen X employees loyal, passionate and engaged. We will focus on the Millennials tomorrow so today; it is all about the forgotten generation, Gen X.

GENERATION X – The second largest group in the labor force with 52.7 million.

Gen X’ers were the latchkey kids. The first generation to grow up in divorced families. Their environment caused them to become very self-reliant. They learned how to fend for themselves. Gen X’ers are good problem solvers. They had the opportunity to break things at home after school and had until mom or dad came home to figure our how to fix it. Gen X employees will question authority much more so than their predecessors. Because they saw their parents work themselves non-stop for their Baby Boomer bosses, they will put their personal lives ahead of their job without thinking about it.

Generation X’ers are very flexible and handle change well. This generation is appreciative to have a “job” because many were affected by the Great Recession thus they are known as dependable and reliable workers that require less direct management.

Gen-X is the first generation that will not benefit from wide-spread company pensions. Therefore, the most valued benefit for Gen X is a 401(k) with matching contributions. Only 33% of this generation is on track to have enough savings to retire, so they plan on continuing to work beyond the Baby Boomer’s retirement age, so cash is king as they seek ways to boost their retirement coffers. They want a competitive salary, and they want to have a clear path to develop and grow their compensation over the next decade. If you do not provide this clear direction, they will leave and find it elsewhere.

Gen X is indeed concerned about job security. However, they also want to be able to find a job that provides them with some hint of a work-life balance. To feed this need, Gen Xers appreciate paid vacation and sick days and, a flexible work schedule which could include working virtually for some percentage of their work week.

As more members of Gen Z enter the workforce and more Millennials and Gen X’ers move into management roles, your business will need to recognize the complementary strengths of young and old generations. Bridging the generations at work and helping each learn from each other is a must if you expect to continue to attract and retain the best people.

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