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Benefit Mix Can Help Financially Stressed Generation X

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For the past two decades, employers have focused on two major trends in the workforce: preparing for the waves of retiring Baby Boomers and creating a dynamic workplace to attract Millennials. Meanwhile, an often-overlooked Generation X feels less financially secure than either Millennials or Baby Boomers (Miller, 2019). According to Stephen Miller’s article “Benefit Mix can Help Financially Stressed Generation X” employees across all ages point to personal finances as their top source of stress, but age is correlated with how much financial stress employees feel. According to him, Generation X is feeling the financial strain more than the generation directly before them or after.

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Generation X can be defined as the generation of people born between 1965 and the early 80’s. Generation X grew up during a time of uncertainty in the US and around the world, but also experienced an explosion of technological advancement. It was this generation that experienced the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Challenger disaster, the energy crisis, the Watergate scandal, the decline of the stock market, operation desert storm, but also experienced the rise of the personal computer. It’s no wonder that growing up surrounded by such social, political, and financial unrest more Generation X babies attended college than the Baby Boomers before them and are known to be incredibly independent and flexible employees that are a great resource to their current employers.

Despite being such a valuable and accounting for 1/3rd of the workforce in the U. S only 68% of Generation X are satisfied with their jobs. Providing a comprehensive benefits package can be an employer’s best tool for improving the job satisfaction of their Generation X employees. Human Resources professionals should be able to offer their employees more than just basic benefits packages in order to be competitive in today’s job market. When they understand how employee benefits impact things like bottom line costs and employee retention, they can make better decisions about benefits packages and help negotiate job offers that make both employees and upper management happy (Recuirter. com, 2019). In this journal I’ll analyze some of the attractive benefits that a Human Recourse Benefits Manager could offer their employees to help alleviate the stress that Generation X employees are currently experiencing.

According to Miller’s article the cost of daily living is the main obstacle preventing Generation X workers from saving what they need for retirement; having a retirement savings plan is an important piece of financial stability that Generation X workers might feel they are missing. Access to a basic retirement savings plan is standard at most companies but this isn’t enough to truly educate and help employees maintain their savings. Providing in depth advice, free banking, education, and learning tools to simplify the process of saving for retirement and keeping employees on track financially can greatly reduce the stress surrounding their 401Ks.

Miller’s article also claims that the cost of insuring their growing children and aging spouses, along with the prominence of preexisting health conditions, are a growing concern amongst Generation X workers. Most basic employer plans deduct an increased insurance premium when employee’s insurance is covering a spouse and still more is deducted to cover children. Generation X workers are also more likely than younger employees to have chronic health conditions that are often made worse by stress, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and musculoskeletal disorders (Miller, 2019). To help alleviate the stress of healthcare for Generation X employees it would be beneficial to employers to be innovative with their healthcare programs. On site medical clinics for employees, wellness programs, healthy lunch options provided by the company, dental and vision clinics, and free gyms are all healthy options that an employee could utilize to improve the health and happiness of their employees.

Furthermore, many Generation X employees have children ranging from young toddlers to adult children that still require support from their working parents. A wise HR benefits manager will take this into account with creating their comprehensive benefits package for this generation of workers. New Gen X parents are likely to prioritize childcare vouchers, employee offered childcare support, and paid maternity and paternity leave in their employee benefits package. Providing extra vouchers for employees with children, daycares provided at the company free of charge, and paid maternity and paternity leave are a few feasible ways of alleviating stress relating to childcare for you Generation X employees. Always remember that maintaining a competitive advantage over your competition when it comes to benefits is just as important as being cost effective.

Finally, for a generation raised to be flexible in the workplace and tech savvy, the ability to work in various environments should be considered a benefit to the company. For Generation X, who are most likely to not only be caring for aging children but also aging parents, a more flexible attitude towards working hours and location will be much appreciated and at times even expected from progressive employers. Flexible work schedules, telecommuting, and working from home are all options that can benefit Generation X employees who are concerned with being present for their children and families and are proficient with the technology required to be an extremely productive employee while working from home.

The benefits listed above are only a few that should be considered while constructing a progressive and attractive benefits package for your employees. Knowing the concerns and needs of your employees is vital for HR professionals and it is important to do everything within your power to address these needs in order to maintain a productive, motivated, and satisfied workforce that will best help meet business goals. Considering that Generation X will continue to be a valuable pool of potential employees for decades to come, creating a benefits package to address specific issues faced by this generation will assist your company is maintaining a competitive advantage in your field.  

10 December 2020

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