As a result of their large number, Baby Boomers have dominated the business world for the last few decades. Although Gen Xers will increasingly fill positions of power, with their population 25% smaller than that of Boomers and Millennials, they will never have the same numbers as Boomers and Millennials. As Boomers retire at a pace of 10,000 per day in the United States, benefits programs have quickly fallen behind in meeting the needs of newer generations.
Because most employers in the insurance industry offer them, traditional benefits such as 401k match and tuition reimbursement are little more than table stakes, rather than retention tools. Tuition reimbursement is a great example; it made sense at a time when the majority of employees were without a college degree, and many used it to finish their degrees on a part-time basis while working full-time. Today, it’s nearly impossible to get a job with an insurance carrier without a college degree, even for a call center position. While tuition reimbursement can still benefit those employees who obtain an MBA, Student Loan Aid would be more of a retention tool for Millennials, who already are the largest generation in the overall workforce. How likely is a benefits committee to give real consideration to this modern benefit if there are no members of the committee who have personal experience with the student loan problem? Not very.
Although enticing, student loan reimbursement is not all that matters. With Millennials giving strong preference to work/life balance, the ability to work from home at least one or two days a week has become an incredible recruiting and retention tool. Things that might seem silly to a benefits committee, like parental leave (for both women and men), casual dress codes, the ability to bring one’s dog to work, carpooling or transportation benefits, the ability to take unpaid sabbaticals, etc., might be great ideas for the creation of benefits packages that actually make a difference to employees over the next two decades.
Bringing new blood to benefits committee is simple—put out a call among employees to let them know that creative thinking and new ideas—that will be given consideration—are sought. Promise them that this is their chance to not only make the company a better place to work for both themselves and their peers, but also to help the company be more attractive to new employees.