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What different generations want from their jobs

It’s no surprise that today’s workforce is multigenerational. With the youngest generation, Gen Z, old enough for their first jobs, and the oldest generation, Baby Boomers, too young for retirement, employers will need to know how to manage a workforce with such a large generational gap. But before they can do so effectively, employers will need to understand each generation. What are their needs and wants in the workplace? Why is that the case? And most importantly, how do they prefer employers to reward and recognize them? In this Pacific Prime article, we uncover these questions.

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Understanding generational differences in the workplace

When it comes to what different generations want in the workplace, it’s a good idea to start with the basic traits and values of each generation. That being said, it’s vital to refrain from stereotyping and/or putting employees into a box. Remember that generation is simply one category of difference and there can also be a number of differences within each generation. Whichever way you go about satisfying each of your employees, effective communication will remain a useful tool to make sure you’re in touch with them.

In this section, we’ll look at the following generations:

  • Generation Z (1997-2015)
  • Generation Y or Millennial (1981-1996)
  • Generation X (1965-1980)
  • Baby Boomers (1946-1964)

Note: Please bear in mind the characteristics mentioned below are “generalized” for informational purposes. We understand that each person’s behaviour and desires are also influenced by a range of factors like personality, culture, gender, upbringing, and other nuances.

What do Gen Z want from their jobs?

Unlike other generations, Gen Z’ers are the first digital natives of the world, but they still prize offline relationships and in-person interactions. For them, authenticity, connectivity, and trust in relationships is important. As such, they want authentic employers who are willing to adopt flexible work environments and implement transparency in the workplace. They also seek personal growth, which they view in tandem with their career growth and aspirations.

That being said, Gen Z’ers are also worried about the economy and desire financial security. Compared to other generations, they are more likely to seek mental health support for anxiety and depression. To help alleviate the situation, companies can offer counselling services via Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) or other benefits offerings that are centered around mental health.

Recognizing and rewarding Gen Z: Continuous feedback is the name of the game. Gen Z’s strong moral compass also means that they’re attracted to rewards that drive progress towards social causes. This includes charity donations, time off to volunteer, etc. Do this to attract and retain the newest generation.

What do Gen Y want from their jobs?

Gen Y want to be evaluated based on their work and tend to work in many workplaces until they find the right career fit. They look for employers who can support them with skills training, mentoring programs (especially with the older generation), and consistent feedback. The desire to grow is strong and professional development is more important to them than loyalty to a company.

When it comes to work, Gen Y’ers are tech-savvy and use technology to increase efficiency. They seek meaningful work that allows them to use their creative skills and come up with innovative solutions. They take having a relaxed workplace (a trend started by Gen X employees) for granted, and are also not afraid to challenge authority or the status quo to improve things for the better.

Recognizing and rewarding Gen Y: Gen Y is also accustomed to getting feedback regularly and would appreciate public praise like a short LinkedIn recommendation. In terms of rewards, stick to those that combine experiences and a sense of purpose. Think concerts, time off to volunteer, etc.

What do Gen X want from their jobs?

For Gen X, independence and personal development is of utmost importance. As their parents (Baby Boomer employees) faced burnout at work, they value their career path and improving their skills over loyalty to a company. They tend to have an entrepreneurial instinct, which could be as simple as following a different management style. What’s more, the ‘start up’ businesses were started in their generation, which means they aren’t afraid to take risks.

Another thing to note about Gen X is that they introduced the concept of work-life balance. They value friendly, flexible workplaces and prefer work to be measured by productivity rather than hours clocked in. Their priorities are to look after their children and/or aging parents. As such, flexible working arrangements and the option to buy holidays (such as through Holiday Trading) will be very well received.

Recognizing and rewarding Gen X: While you should check whether employees are comfortable getting recognition publicly, this is more important with Gen X as they tend to have an aversion to group fanfare. They also love rewards that improve their quality of life like travel perks or meal delivery service.

What do Baby Boomers want from their jobs?

Baby Boomers are hardworking individuals, dedicated to their jobs to achieve lifestyle success including luxury status symbols. As much of their self-worth is attributed to their occupation, they want to be loyal to their job and company, and adopt a job-centered mindset in the workplace. Finding a work-life balance is challenging because they’re driven by career ambition and financial success.

Now that Baby Boomers are nearing retirement, they could do with retirement planning and advice. In addition to this, they’re also more likely to face health problems as they age and may be concerned regarding access to healthcare. Employers should keep these two considerations in mind when designing benefits programs. In particular, benefits that offer advice and savings on healthcare are very much appreciated by Baby Boomers.

Recognizing and rewarding Baby Boomers: To make recognition meaningful, be sure to incorporate some in-person elements for Baby Boomers. For example, toasting the employee over lunch or an in-person awards ceremony. Traditional workplace rewards like promotions or a commemorative plaque are also a good bet.

Flex(ible) benefits to satisfy employees of all generations

Given the clear differences between each generation, how do employers make sure their benefits offerings satisfy all? It’s a tough question, but one with an easy solution: flexible or flex benefits. Instead of offering all employees the same benefits, which may or may not align with their needs and wants, flex benefits allow employers to offer a variety of benefit options for employees to create a customized benefits plan. As everyone is different, it’s no surprise that the element of choice and flexibility is highly valued, and flex benefits have risen in popularity.

Further reading: The complete guide to flex benefits

For all things employee benefits, get in touch with Pacific Prime today!

As an corporate insurance broker and employee benefits specialist, with over two decades of experience in the sector, Pacific Prime keeps up to date with the latest employee benefits developments and trends, including flex benefits and tech tools for HRs. We also recently acquired insurtech CXA’s brokerage arms in Hong Kong and Singapore, and incorporated their industry-leading flex benefits capabilities to enhance our offerings to clients. Whether you’d like to implement a flex benefits program or simply want to explore our employee benefits solutions and group health insurance plans, you’re more than welcome to get in touch.

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Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime
Suphanida is a Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime, an award-winning global health insurance and employee benefits specialist.

With over 5 years of experience in the field, Suphanida spends the majority of her day synthesizing complex pieces of insurance-related information and translating this into easy-to-understand, engaging, and effective content across a variety of media such as articles, infographics, whitepapers, videos, and more.

Suphanida is also responsible for planning and publishing three whitepapers released annually by Pacific Prime: The State of Health Insurance Report, The Cost of Health Insurance Report, and The Global Employee Benefits Trends Report. Additionally, she handles the LinkedIn profiles of Pacific Prime’s Founder and CEO, as well as Global HR Lead.

Suphanida’s strengths lie in her strong research and analytical skills, which she has gained from her BA in Politics from the University of Warwick and Erasmus Mundus Joint MA in Journalism from Aarhus University and City, University of London.

Being of Thai-Indian origin and having lived, studied, and worked in Thailand, the UK, and Denmark, Suphanida also has a unique, multicultural perspective that helps her understand the struggles of expats and globetrotters.

Outside of work, she enjoys traveling to new places and immersing herself in different cultures.
Suphanida Thakral