The wave of those 65 or older will nearly double in size to 83.7 million, and will comprise a hefty 20% chunk of the total U.S. population by 2030. This generation is more racially and economically diverse and by most accounts, unprepared for retirement.
Among other things, it’s influenced how they view their living choices, and aging in place (at their home) is their preference. That’s changing the game for the senior living sector, forcing providers to rebalance what they do and how they do it. Plus, there’s the issue of who will do the work in a sector that’s already challenged to find qualified employees.
It’s not just pay that will be a pivotal recruitment issue. The bigger issue is ensuring an attractive environment that wins the engagement and loyalty of employees at every level of the organization. In today’s multi-generational workforce, it takes an approach to benefits tailored to the distinct differences among generations to attract and retain talent.
What senior living providers will have to consider in terms of benefits will vary from generation to generation:
Baby boomers (1946-1964)
This demographic, now 27% of the workforce, is comprised of experienced employees, many of them executive level. Financial readiness for retirement is a big issue and so are health conditions and the costs of managing them.
Baby boomers value benefits that help them manage their chronic health conditions and offer preventive education or advice. Their financial wellness is important too, making education about retirement planning and social security choices key. Baby boomers want the choice of a PPO, but a HDHP paired with an HSA is also attractive, and, they also highly value dental and vision coverage.
Communicate with them via phone or one-on-one and in group meetings and have printed handouts ready. You’ll ensure engagement by simultaneously engaging spouses or partners through microsites, home mailings or text messages they’ve opted into.
Generation X (1965-1980)
This independent group “works to live – not lives to work.” It constitutes another 27% of the workforce; more than half in leadership roles globally. Competitive pay and financial stability are big motivators, so Gen Xers want growth opportunities in a secure job environment. Workplace flexibility ranks above all other perks and 38% will walk away from a job that doesn’t offer it.
Gen Xers do well with health and wellness benefits that are available on demand and help them manage stress. Financial wellness is also key, as they are struggling to manage multiple financial responsibilities – from their children’s college to their own retirement. Like boomers, they want a PPO medical plan option, and can be enticed into the value in HDHPs and HSAs offer. Retirement benefits are highly valued, but asset allocation guidance is important to help them grow their assets as they become more risk averse.
This generation is best reached through email and phone for communications on benefits, which should extend to spouses and partners. Microsites and home mailings providing complete access to necessary information are the most helpful channels to use.
Now comprising 50% of the workforce, this generation looks for meaningful work that allows for advancement – and will go elsewhere if it’s not offered. A choice of benefits and a flexible work environment with varied challenges are important. So are immediate feedback and rewards.
Holistic work/life balance is highly valued by millennials, and can be supported through wellness programs emphasizing emotional and physical health. Financial education and resources are paramount given the significant student loan debt this generation carries. This group wants inexpensive medical benefits – HDHPs and HMOs are good options – and need to be educated on the value of disability, life and retirement plans. Millennials don’t typically sign up for voluntary benefits even though such options as telemedicine, student loan assistance and financial planning are important options to offer.
Communicating effectively about benefits is critical, as this group often has been on their parent’s health plan long into their 20’s and can be confused during open enrollment and uninformed about their health benefits. Online portals, texts and face-to-face meetings are the best channels for reaching them.
Generation Z (after 1997)
This always-on, always-connected crowd will comprise 20% of the workforce by 2020. They are entrepreneurially minded and eager to gain skills and grow professionally in workplaces that are flexible. They emphasize face-to-face collaboration over remote options. The ability to make a difference is important – 60% want their jobs to impact the world in some way .
Zs are like Millennials in expecting the sort of same health and wellness support, but they also respond well to reciprocal mentorship opportunities where they share their technological know-how while learning from older employees’ experiences. Health benefits aren’t of much interest to Zs, as they are typically covered by their parents’ plans until age 26. It calls for education, which they also need on financial management skills and retirement planning. Voluntary benefits like identity theft protection and student loan assistance will also be useful to this group.
Being both digital and social natives makes technological channels your first choice for communicating about benefits: social platforms like YouTube, online portals, texts, and heavily visual content.
The senior living sector is facing the inevitability of massive changes in its business model. A big part of providers’ ability to successfully meet the challenge will hinge on how well they are able to attract and retain the best mix of qualified people across multiple generations.