Today’s workplace is unique in that as many as five different generations can be working in the same office. And each group has different demands when it comes to benefits and rewards.
That’s not the only difference. Employees are typically from all different backgrounds and lifestyles, says Joe Flanagan, senior career advisor at VelvetJobs. All of these factors impact the kind of benefits they want.
“Not only do your employees have different requirements, their requirements are going to change throughout their lives during the time under your employment so you need to be flexible to accommodate their needs across the entire employee life cycle,” Flanagan adds.
If you want to create a reward program that works for all employees of all levels and backgrounds, then tailoring those rewards and benefits to different career stages is essential. Here’s why.
Rewards Should Change as People’s Careers Unfold
The kinds of rewards that employees idealize change significantly as they age and progress within a company.
Sometimes, it comes down to a matter of priorities. Take Gen Z employees, says the team at Simplyhealth. They may benefit from shopping discounts that save them money. But that’s not necessarily the case for Baby Boomers, who are more concerned about their pensions for retirement.
Another example is flexible working hours for employees with responsibilities like caring for children or parents, says Mridula Pore, co-CEO at the health app company Peppy. “Flexible working, including the ability to work from home, compressed working weeks and flexi-hours, can be hugely appealing to mature staff – and the demand is high from older workers.
“Crucially, flexible working should include remote access to wellbeing benefits, so that staff can take advantage of the full wellbeing package on offer, wherever they are working from and whenever they need extra support.”
Employers Struggle to Offer Relevant Rewards
Most employers don’t tailor rewards to people of different ages or at different stages of their career.
That’s according to research by Towergate Health and Protection, which found that just 22 percent of employers target rewards to specific demographics. Over half (57 percent) of companies offered the same benefits to all staff, while 18 percent “differentiated their benefits offering solely on seniority of staff.”
That means a lot of employee rewards end up not being all that relevant to the individual employees. Research by Hawk Incentives found that 44 percent of employees believe their company doesn’t understand their needs and wishes, and 62 percent said rewards and incentives offered were not applicable to them.
Use Technology to Understand People’s Rewards Preferences
If you want to know how you can personalize rewards based on career stage, first you need to understand your employees preferences. For this, technology is essential.
Reward programs can no longer be a one-way street, says Jonathan Best, account director at uFlexReward. Companies need a system where they can request feedback to understand the satisfaction and effectiveness of each part of their reward program.
“This moves organisations towards the holy grail of understanding ROI in that reward investment,” Best writes. “If significant percentages of employees are telling you they do not value a particular reward program, that’s a waste in spend.”
Data-driven solutions are required to tailor rewards. The right platform can provide instant insights into exactly what your employees want and when they want it.
It’s not enough to tailor rewards based on broad demographics like age or career stage, however. For your reward program to be really effective, true personalization is essential.
The biggest problem with a broad brush approach is that “career values and demographics are not one and the same,” writes the team at Korn Ferry. “Who’s to say that the new mom and young engineering grad are not both wildly ambitious, creative, and open to professional risk?”
Every employee should have a completely personalized reward package. By doing so, companies can give employees much greater control over their working experience, which in turn bolsters employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention.