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Open Enrollment: An Opportunity to Unite Your Multi-Generational Workforce

It’s not a secret that Northern Michigan’s business community is thriving. Along our pristine freshwater shores are emerging apartment complexes and burgeoning hotels. The region is abuzz with new business and expanding enterprises. Small business owners are finding abundant growth opportunities that continue to contribute to the strength of our region’s economic vitality. 

Attracting and retaining an agile workforce will take center stage in the coming year.  

Employers will continue to navigate a multi-peer labor market which now spans four generations.  From Baby Boomers and Gen X to Millennials and Gen Z, now working together, each cohort brings its own preferences and priorities to the table.  

It is clear that a one-size-fits-all benefit package is impractical and outdated. 

Your organization’s annual open enrollment provides a significant platform for engaging, educating and enhancing the employee experience and work-life balance.  Why not seize the opportunity to transform what was once a daunting task into a chance to unite your exceptional team? 

Start early and formulate benefits that are inclusive of employees from various generations. 

This entails making the most of opportunities that promote meaningful reflection and discussion, ultimately resulting in positive outcomes. Collaborate with your experienced professionals and internal leaders to fully leverage these opportunities, which may encompass:  

Conducting employee surveys and focus groups. Collect input from employees of different generations to gain insight and preferences. This valuable feedback can aid in the creation of inclusive benefit packages. 

Auditing your existing programs! Analyze usage and identify shortcomings and pitfalls within your menu. Strive to make essential improvements. Consider the distinct benefit needs of each generation and contemplate adding or modifying options accordingly. It might be an opportune time to explore self-funding your short-term disability plan or potentially introducing voluntary products.  

Offering a variety or a choice of health plan options. Provide a range of insurance plans that cater to different needs and budgets. This can include options like high-deductible plans with health savings accounts (HSAs) for healthier individuals and more comprehensive plans with lower deductibles for employees who may have more healthcare needs.

Opening the door to Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). These allow an employee to set aside pre-tax funds to pay for eligible healthcare expenses. This can be particularly beneficial for personnel who have ongoing medical expenses or who want to save for future healthcare needs.

It just makes sense to offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). EAPs offer support and resources for various personal and work-related challenges. This can include mental health counseling, financial advice, legal assistance and other resources that can benefit employees of all generations.

Implementing wellness programs that focus on promoting healthy habits and lifestyles. This can include initiatives such as fitness challenges, nutrition education, stress management resources, and mental health support.

Considering offering financial wellness programs and resources that can help employees across generations manage their finances and navigate healthcare costs. This may include education on budgeting, saving and retirement planning.

Offering flexible work arrangements. Recognize that employees across generations may have different priorities and responsibilities outside of work. Arrangements, such as remote work options or flexible scheduling can accommodate their needs and promote work-life balance. 

This upcoming year, communicate your benefits across generations by using a multi-channel approach.

This means using various communication methods to reach different generations effectively. Strategies to consider include:

Personalized Communication: Recognize that different generations prefer different communication methods. Some generations may prefer digital communication (email, online portals), while other generations may prefer traditional methods (paper documents, in-person meetings). Offer a range of communication options to accommodate different preferences.

Digital Platforms: Utilize online platforms such as intranets or employee portals to provide detailed information about benefits. Make sure the platforms are user-friendly, accessible from mobile devices, and tailored to meet the needs of each generation.

Face-to-Face Meetings: Organize in-person meetings or seminars to provide an opportunity for employees to ask questions and receive personalized guidance. This can be especially helpful for work peers who may appreciate direct communication and one-on-one consultation.

Tailored Messaging: Craft benefit communications that resonate with different age groups. Highlight specific benefits that may appeal to each generation, such as flexible work arrangements or financial wellness courses and retirement planning.

Ongoing Education: Offer ongoing educational resources to help employees understand their benefits and make informed decisions. This can be done through webinars, lunch-and-learn sessions or online learning modules. 

Peer-to-Peer Communication: Encourage employees from different generations to share their experiences and perspectives on benefits through internal mentorship or community-building programs.

In today’s workplace, diversity is not just limited to race, gender or ethnicity. It also encompasses generational diversity. Recognizing the distinct attributes of your workforce will be essential when crafting meaningful benefit programs and open enrollment strategies that meet the varied requirements of employees across different age groups. By taking a holistic approach, employers can design benefits that are inclusive and empower employees to prioritize their well-being. 

Written by

Andi Dolan 


Andi Dolan, founder of Traverse Benefits, a locally owned independent insurance agency providing health, life and disability insurance solutions for individuals, employers and Medicare beneficiaries across Northern Michigan.

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