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May 22, 2024

How well do you know your workforce's generational needs?

Natalie Lindberg

Employers face many challenges in the dynamic manufacturing industry stemming from the diverse needs and expectations of their workforce's four distinct generations. Rising health care costs, living expenses, and evolving needs mandate reevaluating traditional employee benefits offerings.

By catering to each generation's specific needs and preferences, employers can foster a culture of support and engagement that transcends age barriers and promotes the well-being of all employees. This approach boosts productivity and retention rates and strengthens the organization's reputation as an employer of choice in today's competitive landscape.

Read on to explore critical initiatives employers can take to ensure their entire workforce is thriving and productive, no matter their generation.

Prioritizing mental health and well-being across all generations

Effective support systems are indispensable for maintaining a healthy workforce. Industry reports underscore the critical importance of addressing mental health and well-being in manufacturing.

According to the National Association of Manufacturers, neglecting mental health in the workplace can significantly impact productivity, with untreated mental illnesses costing the global economy billions annually. These striking statistics indicate a growing need for enhanced benefits and support structures. Investing in employee well-being is not just a moral imperative but a strategic business decision.

Each generation has its struggles and challenges. Understanding some of the main pain points can help leaders stay on top of the matter. Here are some challenges to be aware of across each generation:

  • Baby Boomers: These individuals may have experienced a time when mental health challenges were stigmatized. By prioritizing mental health in the workplace, it helps break down these barriers, allowing them to seek help without fear of judgment.

  • Gen X: Gen Xers are often called the "sandwich generation" as they balance caring for aging parents while supporting their own children. Prioritizing mental health and well-being ensures they have the support to juggle these responsibilities without burning out.

  • Millennials: Millennials often seek purpose and fulfillment in their work. Employers prioritizing mental health and well-being signal that they care about more than just productivity, leading to higher job satisfaction and retention rates.

  • Gen Z: Gen Z is entering the workforce, focusing on holistic well-being. Prioritizing mental health ensures early intervention for challenges they may face, setting a precedent for proactive self-care throughout their careers.

Paid leave for all stages of life

Paid leave enhances the work-life balance of each generation by providing flexibility and financial security to address various personal and familial needs. By prioritizing paid leave as part of their benefits packages, employers can support the diverse needs of their multi-generational workforce, foster loyalty and retention, and ultimately create a more productive and resilient organization. Here are some examples of why this is important to each generation:

  • Baby Boomers: Many Baby Boomers are at a stage where they may need to care for aging parents or family members. Paid leave allows them to take time off work to attend to these caregiving responsibilities without worrying about lost income or job security. Paid leave enables Baby Boomers to prioritize their health by taking time off for medical appointments, recuperation after procedures, or managing chronic conditions while still receiving their regular salary.

  • Gen X: Gen Xers often balance responsibilities, including raising children, managing their careers, and supporting aging parents. Paid leave allows them to address family needs, attend school events, or handle unexpected emergencies without sacrificing income. It also enables them to take much-needed breaks for rest, relaxation, and self-care, ultimately contributing to their overall well-being and longevity in the workforce.

  • Millennials: Millennials value work-life integration, seeking jobs that allow them to pursue personal interests and hobbies outside of work. Paid time off enables them to take vacations, pursue passion projects, or simply recharge, fostering a healthier work-life balance and preventing burnout. Millennials are entering the stage of life where many are starting families or considering parenthood. Paid parental leave allows them to bond with their newborns, adjust to parenthood, and support their partners during this significant life transition without financial strain.

  • Gen Z: Gen Z is known for valuing education and personal development. Paid leave can support their educational pursuits by allowing them to take time off for college visits, internships, or studying for exams without worrying about lost income or jeopardizing their job security. Gen Z is also more open about mental health concerns and the importance of self-care. Paid leave allows them to take mental health days or seek professional help when needed, promoting psychological well-being and resilience in the workplace.

Are you overlooking this effect of inflation?  

Rising health care and living costs affect each generation in the workforce differently. Still, all face financial challenges and trade-offs as they navigate their careers and plan for the future.

One generation might need a little more attention than the rest when combating the effects of inflation on your employees. Gen Z is entering the workforce during economic uncertainty. Many are grappling with student loan debt and may need help finding affordable housing or health care coverage. These rising living costs may influence Gen Z's career choices, as they prioritize industries or locations with higher salaries or better benefits to offset these expenses. They may also delay further education or training due to concerns about accruing additional debt.

Employers can support their current employees and attract top talent by offering competitive benefits packages, including health care coverage, retirement savings plans, and resources for financial wellness, to help alleviate some of the financial stress associated with rising costs.

Innovative solutions

Marsh McLennan Agency offers tailored solutions to address manufacturing organizations' generational challenges. Leveraging our expansive knowledge and understanding of employee benefits and well-being programs, we introduced the MMA Dimensions of Well-being. This playbook provides a comprehensive approach to enhancing employee's health and productivity.

Through our innovative offerings, such as MMA PATH and MMA Prosper Wise, we empower employers to navigate the complexities of modern workforce dynamics.

We are committed to partnering with manufacturing organizations to navigate these challenges and cultivate thriving, resilient workforces for the future. Dive deeper into generational challenges, among other impactful employee health and benefits trends, in this year’s report: Employee Health & Benefits Trends: The Evolving Workforce.

Contact a Marsh McLennan Agency manufacturing industry specialist today to learn more about how we can help.

Download report here.