- Employees need to understand the role they play in an organization's success, but it's difficult for employers to address that "at scale," according to MetLife's 17th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study. In other words, employees can't all be treated alike, according to the survey. Given the current focus on the generations entering (millennials/Gen Z) and exiting (boomers) the workforce, the group in the middle — Gen X, which comprises a third of the U.S. workforce — has been widely overlooked, MetLife said.
- And this neglect has serious consequences: MetLife says says Gen Xers feel significantly less appreciated and engaged at work than millennials, and they also lag both boomers and millennials in key financial security indicators. The top source of stress for all employees was personal finances, but only 59% of surveyed Gen X workers reported feeling confident in their finances, compared to 67% of millennials and 65% of boomers. And 53% of Gen X workers reported having savings equal to three months of salary, while 58% of millennials and 60% of boomers reported said they had that amount of money put away.
- The study revealed Gen X was the least happy generation of workers: nearly 3 in 4 millennials and boomers said they were content, but only 68% of Gen Xers said the same thing. Only 54% of Gen Xers said they feel empowered at work. And a mere 62% said they feel respected at the office.
MetLife's findings may feel surprising, as most research has pointed to millennials as the hardest generation to engage. The modern workplace encapsulates five generations — traditionalists, boomers, Gen Xers, millennials and Gen Zers. While avoiding stereotypes, it's fair to say each group brings different preferences and styles when it comes to communication, benefits and engagement. If employers fail to reach Gen X on any of those fronts, it follows that Gen X workers will lag behind the other groups.
In terms of financial security, employers may want to consider employees' financial well-being. Worker finances is important not just for engagement and retention; it also impacts an organizations' broader talent management strategies. When employees don't feel financially ready to retire, they stick around longer. This leads to an increase in wages and total compensation, as well as potential bottlenecks in the talent pipeline for younger generations keen on reaching leadership positions.
Research has shown that retirement plan participation can be low for millennials and Gen Zers for a variety of reasons, including a lack of financial education, low wages, part-time and gig employment and a lack of trust in the financial services industry. Along similar lines, experts have said that younger workers tend to favor benefits options that meet immediate concerns, such as tuition reimbursement and commuter benefit plans, over benefits with a more indefinite payoff, such as life insurance and disability insurance.