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April 18, 2024

Four generations, one workforce

The rewards and challenges of managing four generations.

Four generations—baby boomers, Generation X, millennials, and Generation Z—coexist in today’s workplace. Employers are tasked with understanding and managing each cohort’s unique expectations and needs, delivering a workplace experience and benefits package that keeps them engaged and validated. Today's corporate leaders can create an environment where employees of all generations thrive by developing a perspective of what each group wants and why.

Each generation provides something valuable for your organization. This mix of generations can lift innovation and productivity by offering multiple perspectives, a variety of problem-solving abilities, and mentoring opportunities.

Why should your organization spend time and effort trying to discern the differences? Getting to know the ins and outs of each generation is arguably the most critical understanding a company can have regarding its employees.

Adopting strategies that address your employees' needs, wants, and opportunities can help your organization keep them long-term. But how do you satisfy not only your workforce but each generational segment? Which strategies should you employ for each? What realities do they face? What do they need right now and in the future?

Who makes up the generations in your workforce?

You’re likely managing at least four generations facing economic challenges and health care issues. Each has its values and delivers singular rewards to the organization. These generations also have particular attitudes toward work, employers, and expectations of their benefits.

Despite their differences, all of the generations report being under-engaged, concerned with the cost of living, and in need of access to better mental health services.

2024 Employee Health & Benefits Trends: The Evolving Workforce report

Employees are looking for more than a solid benefits plan. They want to work in an environment where they feel welcomed and worthwhile. Our latest report finds that employees are placing a higher emphasis on the meaning and purpose of their work.

  • Approximately 67% of all employees report that the pandemic caused them to reflect on their purpose in life, including what work means to them and their community.

  • An inclusive culture has become a focus for companies and a critical tool for recruitment and retention. Many organizations have instituted diversity, equity, and inclusion programs to help create a welcoming culture. Still, some are struggling to go beyond awareness to produce actionable results.

  • Empathy is important to avoid apathy among employees, which can often result in losing key talent. Understanding what employees need, including opportunities to grow within the company, is a key element to creating a culture that recognizes the needs of all employees.

What do boomers need?

Baby boomers (1946-1965) comprise 18% of the U.S. workforce. Their accumulated knowledge and expertise bring value to their organizations and will be difficult to replace once they retire. For that reason alone, many companies encourage boomers to stay past the traditional retirement age. This means employers must ensure they offer the right work atmosphere and benefits.

Learn more about the needs of baby boomers in the workplace.   

What does Generation X seek?

Generation X (1966-1980) makes up 31% of U.S. employees. They are the first generation to demonstrate concern for work/life balance: they “work to live” and are unapologetically independent. They are also eager for opportunities in the workplace, whether in the form of advancement or learning new skills.

Learn more about the needs of Generation X in the workplace. 

How do you keep millennials engaged?

Millennials (1981-1996), or Gen Y, already make up 36% of the U.S. workforce. They insist on freedom and flexibility; even more than Gen X, they want a blend of work and life. They desire a career but also want to be part of an organization that actively gives back to the community. Millennials are hard-working and want recognition and continual feedback for their work.

Learn more about the needs of millennials in the workplace. 

What does Gen Z require from their job?

Only 15% of Generation Z (1997-2012) is in the U.S. workforce, but they’re already making an impact. They’re comfortable with remote or hybrid work and appear to be the most diverse generation. Gen Zers want enough salary or wage to feel comfortable in a safe and welcoming workplace. The American Psychological Association identifies Gen Z as the most stressed generation, attributed to coming of age during severe global challenges.

Learn more about the needs of Generation Z in the workplace.

Give your workforce a health plan with the benefits they want.

Support the needs of your people and business with the various benefits solutions of Marsh McLennan Agency. Whether you’re a self-funded or fully insured middle market organization, find help tailoring benefits to fit your employees’ wants. A strong understanding of your employees and their benefits needs can help create a powerful business.

Want to know more about your people and the generations the represent?

Download the 2024 Employee Health & Benefits Trends: The Evolving Workforce report.