Workforce Demographics: Do You Know How to Communicate to Your Team?

That fresh-out-of-college assistant has probably never used a rotary dial phone to make a call. And the gray-haired man who’s close to retirement? He probably doesn’t tweet to his buddies about what he’s doing all day long.

Generational differences and diversity are what make your team strong. Each individual brings something unique to the table. However, they also present a communication challenge. What works for one group may not work for the other. According to MetLife’s 9th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends, “An effective benefits communications strategy requires messaging that resonates with different life stages and generational attitudes in the workplace and highlights benefits that will engage them.”

Unfortunately, few companies are tailoring their benefits communication for the generations in their organization. The study goes on, “In the last 12 months, only 10% of employers have brought a generational point of view to their communications materials, and only 13% have added a survey to help identify their employee benefits needs and attitudes.”

Employees have different perspectives and expectations, based as much on their gender or ethnicity as on their age. Consider these statistics from employees surveyed in the MetLife study:

Interested in Receiving Benefits Information on Internet Site:
  • Millennials (21-29): 75%
  • Generation X (30-45): 80%
  • Younger boomers (46-54): 66%
  • Older baby boomers (55-65): 61%
Interested in Receiving Benefits Information on Social Networking Platform (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn):
  • Millennials: 42%
  • Generation X: 38%
  • Younger boomers: 12%
  • Older baby boomers: 11%
Concerned About Outliving Retirement Money:
  • Millennials: 63%
  • Generation X: 69%
  • Younger boomers: 72%
  • Older baby boomers: 6%
Behind Schedule in Saving for Retirement:
  • Millennials: 35%
  • Generation X: 48%
  • Younger boomers: 62%
  • Older baby boomers: 60%
Telecommute all or Part of the Week:
  • Millennials: 32%
  • Generation X: 29%
  • Younger boomers: 12%
  • Older baby boomers: 10%
Characteristics:
  • Millennials: Anxious to leave job; Dissatisfied with their job; Believe benefits are foundation of financial security, but are not a reason to stay
  • Generation X: Value workplace benefits and see them as reason to stay with employer; Not as satisfied with their benefits as Gen Y and Older boomers and are a flight risk
  • Younger boomers: Not a serious flight risk; Dissatisfaction could lead them to be less engaged and a potential threat to productivity
  • Older baby boomers: Satisfied with their jobs and benefits, unlikely to leave; Financially unprepared for retirement
3 Tips to Communicating to a Diverse Workforce

This is just a snapshot of the study, but you can see there are plenty of similarities here. Nearly all workers are worried about their financial futures, regardless of age. However, there are also many differences, not just in attitudes toward the job, but in how workers want to receive information.

As a benefits manager, you should invest in a communications strategy that uses multiple channels to give employees and their families the information relevant to them, and in a way that’s easily accessible.

Use these 3 tips to help you reach your diverse workforce (None of them include a rotary phone): Know your employee challenges and needs. How well do you know your workforce? Take the time to dig into your workforce data and understand job function or location, demographic factors (like age and family situation), benefits plan elections or actions, even health status. Really understanding your audience will let you communicate to them in using the channels and messaging that will be most effective.

1. Know your employee challenges and needs.

How well do you know your workforce? Take the time to dig into your workforce data and understand job function or location, demographic factors (like age and family situation), benefits plan elections or actions, even health status. Really understanding your audience will let you communicate to them in using the channels and messaging that will be most effective.

2. Get a benefits website and start using social media.

This may be the single most important investment you can make that provides benefits information for employees and their families. A benefits website gives you a starting point to incorporate social media, have year-round dialogues with employees and lets you reinforce your company’s branding and culture.

3. Use a multi-channel approach: Posters, newsletters and postcards.

Those encyclopedia-sized benefits guides may be a thing of the past (or at least they should be), but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for print in your communications. You may have employees who don’t have desk jobs or Internet connection. A beautifully-designed, cleverly-written print piece can go a long way in capturing this audience’s attention.

 

The information presented and contained within this article was submitted by Benz Communications, an award-winning employee benefits communications consulting boutique and a contributor for the Client Community newsletter. This information is general information only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. You should consult your legal advisors to determine the laws and regulations impacting your business. Any opinions expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of Ebix or its personnel.

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