MetLife Research Shows Generational Disparity On Which Benefits Matter Most

Baby boomers and their younger colleagues disagree on how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted their work-life balance.

Fifty-one percent of millennial and Gen Z workers say their work-life balance is better now than before the pandemic, while only one-quarter of baby boomers say the same, according to MetLife’s 19th annual employee benefit trends study. Employees across all generations agree that the pandemic has caused a decline in their physical, mental, social and financial well-being. However, the reduction in in-person interactions seems to have hit baby boomers harder.

About 33% of boomers say they are struggling to set boundaries at work, leading to feelings of unhappiness, according to the MetLife research. Forty-two percent of boomers say the lack of casual office interactions have also made them less happy at work. Conversely, 40% of younger workers say being able to spend time with their family has improved their overall work-life balance. Thirty percent of younger workers say relocating to a better area is also why their work-life balance has improved.

“The workforce’s youngest and oldest employees have experienced very different pain points over the past year when it comes to their well-being and work-life balance,” says Missy Plohr-Memming, senior vice president of Group Benefits at MetLife. “Whether it’s hybrid or flexible work, training and reskilling, or developing a benefits program, employers must understand the distinct needs of unique types of employees.”

Baby boomers and their younger colleagues are also taking different approaches when it comes to improving their well-being. While 36% of younger employees said they took more paid time off this year, only 8% of boomers said they took time off to improve their health. They cited travel restrictions and too much work as top reasons for not doing so.

Employees across multiple generations are 42% more likely to remain with an employer if the company offers benefits that meet their needs, according to MetLife. However, two in five employees say their employer isn’t offering benefits or programs that support their well-being during the pandemic.

“One of the key learnings from our study this year is the realization that now more than ever, employers must both recognize and cater to the differences in employees’ needs, because doing so will be key in addressing and improving employee well-being,” Plohr-Memming says. “To ensure they’re addressing their employees’ well-being concerns, employers need to consider these diverse generational needs both with respect to workplace flexibility and also as it relates to benefits.”


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