By - April 23, 2018

Consider Generational Differences In Your Benefits Communications Plan

Consider Generational Differences in Your Benefits Communications

Having a benefits communications plan is critical if you want to engage your employees, help them choose the best benefits, and increase their satisfaction.  

But even with a solid plan, you can’t rely on a one-size-fits-all strategy.

The reality is, your workforce is comprised of different demographics—Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials.

While stereotypical labels are fruitless and unproductive, it’s important to learn, understand, and embrace the communication differences of your employees.

Understanding that all employees, regardless of which generation they belong to, have communication preferences will empower your team to create an adaptive benefits communications plan.

Baby Boomers

At one time, the older workforce demographic was the Silent Generation (also known as Traditionalists). While you may have some employees from this generation, your older employees will, more than likely, be from the Baby Boomers.

Defined by Pew Research as being born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers were born before the era of cell phones, personal computers, and instant information.

While research shows that Boomers have adopted technology, as this Forbes article notes, your Baby Boomers will want a phone call for important information…even though they’re accepting of email communication.

Generation X

Dubbed by Pew Research as “America’s neglected ‘middle child,’” Generation X sits between Baby Boomers and Millennials, with many sources defining Generation Xers as those born between 1965 and 1980.

While Generation X may not be in the limelight, they deserve your attention. As Careerbuilder explains, characteristics associated with Generation X are being…

  • Tech savvy.  
  • Independent.
  • Entrepreneurial.  
  • Ambitious at work.   

As you craft your benefits communications plan, remember that some Generation X employees may have the communication preferences of younger generations.

More than likely, your Generation Xers will appreciate a quick email invite to an upcoming benefits meeting more than they would a phone call.  

Millennials

Also called Generation Y, Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996 (according to Pew Research), and their familiarity with technology has earned them the title “digital natives.”

In 2015, Millennials outnumbered Generation X in the workforce. So you’ll want to carefully consider their preferences for your benefits communications plan.

When it comes to connecting with Millennials, recognize that digital channels play a dominant role in their lives. For example, Time reports that one survey found that “36% of millennials ages 18 to 34 who use ‘visual expressions’ such as emojis, GIFs and stickers say that those images better communicate their thoughts and feelings than words do.”

Generational Differences and Your Benefits Communications Plan

Knowing these differences can help you refine your benefits communications strategy.

But it’s important to remember that you can’t stereotype or pigeonhole your workforce generations. Helping your employees understand their benefits and make the best decisions isn’t about choosing one communication channel for each generation. 

Direct mail, email blasts, webinars…the key to reaching a diverse group employees (with communication preferences you may not expect) is providing them with a variety of communication channels. You’ll reach more employees when you broaden the ways they can absorb information on their benefits.

Before you eliminate verbal communication for your Millennials or ramp up non-digital communication for your Baby Boomers, check out our recent infographic.

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