By Dan Openshaw

A one-size-fits-all approach to employee benefits may make your plan easier to administer, but it won’t help your recruitment and retention efforts, especially when today’s workforce comprises multiple generations of employees with vastly different needs and concerns.

Developing a customized benefits strategy for middle market, self-funded employers is less of a challenge than it once was due to improvements in benefits data management and analysis of utilization trends.

Data can be used to inform everything from network adequacy to wellness program return on investment. Data also can help inform benefit plan design and communication that will appeal to distinct employee segments. Here are three things to think about when considering a data-driven benefits strategy for managing a multigenerational workforce:

  1. Set your measurement baselines.
    For starters, it’s important to know exactly how your employee demographics break out. Is the generational mix fairly even or is it top-heavy with one generation or another? Who’s enrolled in which benefits and what patterns or anomalies stand out? You especially want to know how enrollment and current utilization patterns stack up when broken out by generations.
  2. Try asking, then test out benefits to learn what works.
    A diverse group of employees will have diverse expectations when it comes to their benefits packages. You know the broad outlines: Baby Boomers are big on health insurance and a good retirement plan. Generation X wants work-life balance and a competitive 401(k) or retirement savings with a healthy employer contribution. Millennials and Gen Zs are big on flexibility – where and when they work – and paid time off. Every generation is under financial stress, but the nature and solutions vary. Survey your employees, though, to get more specific on benefits that align with their needs.
    Voluntary benefits can be a good place to start – there’s a big selection and many can be offered at little or no cost to you or your employees. For example, when it comes to financial stress, there is a wide array of options. An employee purchasing program gives interest-free access to products through payroll deductions. Student loan management/repayment programs are big Millennial recruitment tools. Analyzing utilization patterns sheds light on how successful these programs are and with which audiences, and may suggest changes to add more value.
  3. Data can help tailor benefits communications, too.
    Benefits are complicated. There are over 42 types of voluntary products alone. Half of employees have relatively little understanding of their benefit plans. One survey suggested the majority never read benefits collateral. But all your employees look to you to help them understand the products that would make the most sense for them. A big part of that comes down to communications – delivered through preferred channels, in bite-sized chunks and with messaging that’s tailored to specific employee demographics. By gaining a better understanding through analytics of trends and influences in open enrollments and utilization, more effective and tailored data-driven benefits communications can result.

Every advantage matters in recruiting and keeping the kinds of employees that will keep your organization growing. You’ll get a big advantage by making data a key to your benefits strategy – one that’s effectively customized to generational interests and needs.

HUB International’s employee benefit specialists consult with employers of all sizes and in all industries on every aspect of employee benefits program planning and management.