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05 Apr 2024
by Jane Hulme

5 steps to designing a reward strategy to engage all generations

For those managing multigenerational workforces, engaging employees across all age groups, at different live stages, is crucial

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For the first time ever, there are five generations employed in UK workplaces.

This ranges from the youngest members of the Silent Generation approaching 80 (but not about to retire quietly) to Generation Z in their 20s.

UK workplaces are now truly multigenerational, marking a new combination of motivations, personalities and dynamics.

For those managing multigenerational workforces, engaging employees across all age groups is crucial.

This not only ensures employee satisfaction but also builds a culture of inclusivity and belonging.

By supporting all generations to thrive in the workplace, businesses can gain a valuable competitive advantage.

Of course, one of the greatest challenges of a multigenerational workforce is the number of different life stages represented.

Choice and flexibility

Any reward and benefits strategy must offer your employees choice and flexibility to ensure that each generation can access benefits that best suit their individual circumstances.

A recent report from WPI Economics commissioned by Unum UK demonstrates a clear link between health, happiness and productivity.

The survey of more than 4,000 employees revealed that over 50% of respondents of all ages believe that a wider employee benefits package (such as access to employee assistance programmes and virtual GP appointments) would affect their happiness at work.

Here is a step-by-step approach to designing a flexible reward and benefit strategy that engages the entire workforce — from Gen Z to the Silent Generation. Unum research highlights that, on average, 60% of surveyed employees of all ages said that a poor benefits package would influence their decision to leave their current job.

This reinforces the role a comprehensive benefits and reward strategy can have in recruiting and retaining top talent.

1. Understand workforce demographics

Analyse the age distribution across your business and consider that, while some benefits will be universally appreciated, there may be unique needs and motivations of each generation and each diverse strand. By recognising which life stage employees are at you can tailor benefits that resonate with everyone.

2. Gather feedback on needs and expectations

Next, consider gathering feedback on the needs and expectations of your employees and reward and benefits preferences. Surveys, inclusive focus groups and one-to-one discussions are great ways to collect this information while also engaging your workforce.

This feedback will ensure your rewards and benefit strategy offers this engagement. But remember that although grouping workers into age brackets and generations may be tempting, generations are not homogenous.

For instance, would the same benefits appeal to two people in the same generation, one with young children and one without?

3. Offer choice and flexibility

One option might be providing a menu of benefits to choose from to enable people to pick those they think will best work for them. That way, you’ll provide at least some options to suit all workers, regardless of life stage.

4. Tailor communications

Now that you understand the generational priorities within your workforce, the next step is to understand their communication preferences. That way, you can find the easiest way to make sure everyone is aware of the benefits available to them.

By learning to communicate in the style, manner and channel each generation prefers, you can tailor your messaging effectively. Surveying your workforce will give your employees the opportunity to confirm how they prefer to receive communications, helping to drive engagement with their rewards and benefit package.

5. Review and evolve

It’s important to review and evolve your offering by regularly seeking employee feedback and monitoring industry trends. From here you can understand where you need to scale and innovate to continually meet the diverse needs of an ever-changing multigenerational workforce.

And finally...

To address the diverse needs of a multigenerational workforce, it is essential to design and create a flexible rewards and benefits strategy. Understanding the preferences and needs of different generations within your workplace allows you to pinpoint rewards and support that genuinely resonate with each age group.

Recognising generational differences, while acknowledging the diversity within each generation, is the first step in tailoring your benefit strategies, helping to build a high-performing workforce, and creating a strategy for everyone’s benefit.

The WPI Economics study was commissioned by Unum UK, November 2023. Censuswide survey of 4,035 UK employees (aged 16-69) between 20-21 September 2023

Unum is exhibiting at the REBA Wellbeing Congress 2024 on 20 June. Book your ticket here

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