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The death of one-size-fits-all benefits: Tailor rewards to generational differences

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in Employee Benefits Program,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Most organizations choose employee rewards based on budgets, tradition and management choices. Or they may use surveys that solicit preferences but don’t analyze the results according to generational differences.

That’s a mistake more organizations are trying to rectify. Nearly a third (32%) of HR professionals plan to alter their total rewards programs with generational preferences in mind, according to the new Top Five Total Rewards Priorities survey by Deloitte LLP and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists.

That percentage is likely to increase significantly in the future because the workforce is becoming more multigenerational—especially as older workers remain longer to rebuild their nest eggs.

More organizations are customizing rewards programs to accommodate the values, lifestyles, work habits and interests of different generations. Even low-budget programs can offer rewards that appeal to different generations.

Give the people what they want

Here are the different rewards that consultants say best motivate the four generations:

Millennials
were born between 1981 and 1999. They are computer-literate, easily bored and require frequent challenges. They need work/life balance and value education.

Millennials value extra break time, recognition from clients and contributing to pet causes. This generation also values gift certificates to music and video outlets; tickets to concerts and sporting events; transportation subsidies/reimbursement; iPods and PCs.

Gen Xers were born between 1965 and 1980. For them, productivity means working smarter, not longer and harder. They balance work and personal life and are self-possessed, versatile employees. This generation values flex-time, working from home, leading a new project team and recognition from clients. Gen Xers also value bonuses based on performance, weekend trips, tuition reimbursement and annual salary increases.

Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. Their careers tend to focus on one organization or industry. Boomers value recognition, such as employee of the month awards, oral acknowledgment from clients, parking passes and promotions.

Boomers also value cash rewards, bonuses, free day care for a specified period, training seminars, membership in a club or organization and dining with the boss.

Matures
were born before 1946. They are self-starters who have often sacrificed family time for work and tend to be loyal employees. They want respect for their experience and sacrifices.

Matures value oral recognition from bosses and clients, award certificates, extra time off and serving as mentors to age-group peers and new employees. Matures also value salary increases, 401(k) matches, bonuses, profit sharing and cash rewards for suggestions that lead to workplace improvement.

Advice: These are generalizations, so survey your staff to determine what types of rewards and recognition each age group values most.

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