Employers Recognizing Need for Benefits Appealing to Young and Old Workers

By Staff Report

Jun. 15, 2011

The need to attract new talent while holding onto experienced workers is creating a demand for financial benefit plans that appeal to a multigenerational workforce, according to a new study by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which takes a look at the role these programs play in talent management.

“Longer life expectancies and baby boomers’ desire or need to keep working are leading to an aging population of American employees that will require more age-friendly workplaces and benefit plans designed to meet the unique needs of multiple generations,” says Andy Sieg, head of retirement services for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The overwhelming majority—94 percent—of the 650 C-level executives surveyed in the Workplace Benefits Report said that they recognize the importance of retaining older employees and the knowledge they possess while nearly all—98 percent—pointed to the need for younger workers. The survey was conducted in April.

As a result, 50 percent of those surveyed offer customized work schedules and about a third provide retirement and health care education programs as well as continuing education opportunities, the survey shows. Nearly one-fourth allow employees to work remotely and 21 percent are offering extended benefits to older employees.

“Employers are not just talking about it, but they are taking very progressive steps to offer programs aimed at both younger and older employees,” Sieg says.

Employers are also feeling a greater sense of responsibility toward the financial future of their workers, according to the study, with 59 percent saying they feel compelled to help employees meet their financial goals. More than half indicate that this means not only providing financial benefit plans but also education and advice on how to use them.

“If there is one silver lining of the recession it’s this increased sense of responsibility,” says Stephen Ulian, head of institutional retirement and benefit solutions at Bank of America.

Since the economic downturn, 47 percent of employers say they’ve seen a spike in questions about their financial benefit plans from potential hires. They’ve also noticed more involvement from older workers approaching retirement and an increase in younger workers enrolling earlier in the plans.

As a result employers are offering a broader range of financial education programs and tools, although the majority noted that most employees are not taking full advantage of them.

“Employers understand that employees don’t leave their financial life in the parking lot,” Sieg says. “Many are working on financial activities at work. Enabling employees to better manager their financial lives will generate more productive workers.”

—Rita Pyrillis

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