Gen X workers want different benefits. Companies are answering the call.

Mid-life workers want menopause support, eldercare assistance, health screenings, and more. Increasingly, they’re getting it – and their employers are benefitting, too.

Gen X are at a crossroads in their personal lives. Wedged between Baby Boomers and millennials, this generation is in the ‘sandwich’ phase of life. They’re largely responsible for caring for their ageing parents while providing for their school-aged children, all while managing their own lives, careers, and health.

If organisations are eager to hold onto their Gen X workers, roughly defined as those born between 1965 to 1980, they need to respond to these challenges.

That’s why an increasing number of companies across the globe are rolling out benefits that address specific mid-life health and lifestyle concerns. And in a tight labour market, employers who offer customised perks stand out by signalling a level of support that’s increasingly sought after in today’s workplace.

Cloud-software company Salesforce recently launched an eldercare benefit for employees supporting older family members as well as cancer-related programming for early detection targeted to the 50-plus demographic. Software company Adobe offers services to help employees manage the university-admissions process for their kids as well as access to backup elder care and in-home care consultations. Menopause support is also emerging at many global companies, both big and small.

“The benefits of providing these services go beyond economics,” says Peter Bamberger, a professor at the Coller School of Management at Tel Aviv University, and the president elect of the Academy of Management. “We’re talking about services that potentially impact one’s children and one’s parents. Organisations are not only providing financial assistance, they’re building a strong emotional connection ­– they’re showing that they care.”

Employers aren’t offering these new benefits out of pure altruism, however. The programs are relatively cost-effective, and research suggests that benefits tailored to employees’ needs can have an impact on retention and performance. A survey by Gartner conducted last year, seen by the BBC, showed a thoughtful benefits strategy can boost employees’ intent to stick around by 11%, and raise their output by 12%.

“Employers are aware that having to find your elderly parents a specialist or Gen X workers want different benefits. Companies are answering the call.the right facility to live in is a time-consuming and emotional chore,” says Bamberger. “Employers know that it takes time out of your workday, and if they can help with it, you’re going to be more present and focused at work.”

With five generations in the workforce, benefits are no longer a one-size-fits-all proposition.

Employers are increasingly trying to adapt to the evolving needs of their employees as they progress through their lives and careers, says Lauren Winans, the chief executive officer of Next Level Benefits, a Pennsylvania, US-based HR consultancy. “Companies are looking at their workforce demographics and they’re asking: where is this person in their life? What are they facing? And how can we invest our benefit dollars in purposeful ways?”

Similar to offering student loan assistance and mental-health support to appeal to Gen Z, and fertility and caregiving benefits to draw millennials, mid-life benefits meet Gen X workers where they are. And this is important, right now: “Gen Xers are likely senior leaders in their organisations,” says Winans. “If they’re not in the executive suite now, they’re going to be there soon, and so these are folks that companies really want to attract and retain.”

One of the most popular new benefits is menopause support. Menopause is not only a challenge for workers, but also for employers; according to a study published in April by the Mayo Clinic, menopause symptoms result in approximately $1.8bn (£1.42bn) in lost working time each year.

This year, American biotech company Genentech introduced menopause-specific care to its 13,500 workers and their spouses or partners, in response to a request from one of its employee affinity groups. The benefit includes access to on-demand video appointments with clinicians, classes on managing menopause symptoms and referrals to in-person providers.

Genentech’s workforce is 54% women, and the average age of employees is 45. “It’s likely that many of our employees will experience menopause while working here, and we want them to have easy access to care,” says Cori Davis, the company’s chief people officer.

Scott Floyd, global benefits leader at Cisco, says the communications company launched a concierge care benefit this year that tackles the administrative and logistical aspects of caring for an elderly parent, supporting a child with special needs or assisting a partner with a new medical diagnosis. The benefit came about after a quarterly pulse survey conducted in June revealed that many of its employees, particularly women with caregiving responsibilities, felt stretched thin. Gen X women were among the most impacted.

Source: BBC News

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