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Have you forgotten about Gen X? Revisiting management benefits for senior executives

There’s no denying that workplace demographics are changing. The Baby Boomer’s days as employees are coming to an end as many of the last of that generation reach retirement and a significant amount of focus has been put on the rising talent of the Millennials – but what about Gen X? Many of this generation are in their employment prime; holding key influential senior executive positions and being the driving force for a lot of business direction. Unfortunately, when it comes to discussion about employee benefits, Gen X seem to be the forgotten “middle child”.

This week’s Pacific Prime article on employee benefits focuses on what companies should know about benefits when it comes to their Gen X senior executives. Where exactly are our Generation X employees, what characterizes their demographic, and what type of employee benefits should businesses consider if they’re looking to value and support these leaders to help drive your company forward into the future?

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Who are these Gen X leaders?

You may not realize it but many of today’s biggest movers and shakers are actually part of Generation X. Many of them still have a youthful energy to them, others are leading the charge in areas that are commonly associated with younger generations like technology; but all of the following examples are significantly influential Gen X leaders:

  • Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page
  • Former President of the United States, Barack Obama
  • Elon Musk, PayPal and Tesla Motors co-founder
  • Fellow PayPal co-founder, Peter Thiel
  • MySpace founders Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe
  • Gaming giant Electronic Arts’ CEO, Andrew Wilson
  • Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft
  • TV and film superstars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
  • Rapper and music mogul, Jay-Z

As we often consider the aging Boomer to be Bill Clinton’s, Bruce Springsteen’s, and Steven Spielberg’s, it’s clear that those Gen X’ers above aren’t even close to being in that age range yet. Millennials are like Mark Zuckerberg; oddly enough, Zuckerberg’s first outside investor in Facebook was Gen X’er, Peter Thiel.

Where are they?

According to the Global Leadership Forecast 2018 report by DDI, Gen X are about to take over nearly every important leadership role in organizations around the world. While they’re the generation that’s taken the slowest to advance (Millennials have had 1.6 promotions in the past five years, Baby Boomers have had 1.4, and Gen X only 1.2), people in this generation usually have two more direct reports than Millennials in senior executive and management roles, and only one less than the older Boomers.

Gen X also already make up 51 percent of leadership roles globally and some of them, with 20 years experience already under their belt, look set to become the leaders and mentors to Millennials, who are poised to become 50 percent of the total workforce by 2020. With many boomers already enjoying retirement, Fortune Magazine was already predicting in 2014 that the 20 percent of workforce that fell into the Gen X category would be the CEO of major companies. Case-in-point: Boomer Bill Gates handing the reins of Microsoft to Gen X’er Satya Nadella that same year.

Nadella’s own rise is indicative of two more traits the DDI report found; Gen X’ers are extremely loyal and are actually more adept at using technology than they’re given credit for. It makes sense – people like Nadella grew up in a period of rapidly advancing technology, where the basic frameworks for the coding and engineering behind today’s tech were built. With Microsoft since 1992, Nadella showed significant commitment to the company and was rewarded with it’s top job. In contrast, around half of Millennials planned to leave their employer within two years.

Why do companies need to review their management benefits for Gen X staff?

If you’ve been following the employee benefits trends for the past few years, you’ll have seen that they focused on the two generations either side of Gen X – and for fair reasons. The first is Boomers, who have worked into their later years longer than any other generation before them, have all begun to retire. Being that age comes with a range of health and financial concerns that are specific to a generation looking to enjoy their non-working years.

On the other hand, Millennials have dominated the innovation and future discussions of employee benefits and wellness in the workplace. The stereotypes that they don’t remain in one company for long, prefer flexible and remote working arrangements, and expect greater opportunities for digital engagement with their benefits. Here’s some of the most popular employee benefits for those two generations:

Baby Boomers Millennials
  • Salary level
  • Health insurance
  • Retirement plan
  • Benefit choices
  • Paid time off
  • Ability to work remotely
  • Flexible and autonomous work schedules

Gen X workers, especially those in senior executive levels, have needs that are in between those two life periods. They’re still looking for advancement but with less appetite for risky career moves. When it comes to employee and management benefits, they’re looking for that same balance of risk and reward to support not only their working life, but their personal lives too. If you’ve taken a look around your company and found that your key position holders are Gen X, it might pay to review the benefits you do offer.

What types of management benefits do Gen X’ers in senior executive positions want?

For Gen X workers, there’s a bit of desire for flexibility and control over their working schedules, as well as benefits to consolidate their health and wellbeing as they head into the last few decades of their working lives. As such, these benefits are commonly desired by people in the Gen X age range:

  • Competitive salaries: As they’re now becoming the leaders at the forefront of their respective areas, Gen X’ers are determined to be paid for their skills and efforts.
  • Job security: Many Gen X workers are looking for a payment-in-kind for those long years of loyalty to an employer. Even those who are relatively new to a company will still be looking to exchange loyalty for loyalty, in order to be more secure before retirement age looms.
  • Career advancement: As Gen X’ers are likely senior executives, the last remaining Baby Boomers looking to give up their seats are what many will have their sights set on. Diligent, committed to an employer, and skilled are traits they hope will see rewarded.
  • Retirement options: There’s news the world over, particularly in countries with generous social security and pensions, that government retirement schemes may not last for the Baby Boomers. Gen X are smart and will want to make sure they’ve got themselves covered, and will gladly engage with reputable retirement plans offered by employers.
  • Work-life balance: Just because they’re not Millennials doesn’t mean Gen X don’t prioritize their personal life over work too. Many have families that have children soon to be moving on to university; so having time to spend as a family will be important to them. This can mean flexible work arrangements, extended leave, or opportunities to work from home.
  • Health insurance: Arguably the most important for all generations, health insurance will ensure that all their efforts during their working life aren’t spent on treating illnesses and injuries when they retire.

While these are likely to be common across the generation of senior executives from Gen X, the level of value in particular management benefits can vary from industry to industry, and location to location. It pays to really understand what your Gen X staff want from their benefits before deciding upon any changes or additions to your current EB plan.

How can I get help reviewing and realigning my employee benefits?

According to a Clutch survey, 55% of all employees stated that health insurance is the most important benefit in terms of job satisfaction. While things like career advancement and salary are easily handled by your Human Resources teams, reviewing and realigning your employee health benefits can be a huge challenge. It’s not just about finding suppliers and providers and settling on a price for specific coverage. You have to know the ins and outs of health benefits management to ensure that you’re getting a plan that meets your business’s needs, those of your staff, and one that’s sustainable for the long term.

This is where an experienced broker like Pacific Prime can help. Our expert advisors can work with you to understand both your staff’s health needs, as well as those senior leaders who you might offer management benefits to. They can help you find the right overall package for a price that fits your company budget, and go that extra step to help your HR team not only design and implement the benefits package, but manage and maintain it into the future.

When you’re considering how your current EB plan rewards and retains those Gen X senior executives that will help take your business forward, contact the Corporate team at Pacific Prime. Our industry knowledge and market advantage means that you’ll have the best insights available when making a choice on benefit types and coverage levels. Want to know more? Check out our Corporate website today.

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