Organisations are increasingly recognising the value of hiring older workers, so why are benefits still consistently catered to younger staff?
When it comes to developing your employee benefits scheme, there’s a large population of the workforce that are often left out of the conversation; your older workers. Of course, you can’t assume you know what someone wants based solely on their age, but in order for your benefits scheme to be a success, the benefits need to be geared towards the individual’s priorities.
Age does not rule out any benefit for any employee. What separates your older and younger employees isn’t necessarily what benefits they want, but why they want them. A single 22-year-old graduate and a worker in their 60s may both want to go on great holidays, enjoy discounted cinema tickets and save money; but the graduate may be saving for rent and student debt, while the older worker will likely be saving for retirement. These employees share the same goals, but saving for retirement versus student debt are two entirely different motives.
While improving your range of benefits will undeniably boost take up, it is the communication of those benefits which alters people’s interest. Understanding the motives for employees’ benefit choices enables you to provide more personalised communications.
The following is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are some of the most popular benefits for over-50s, and why they matter.
1. Savings and financial support
Traditionally, savings and finance is seen as a necessary but dry subject, so it’s up to employers to make it interesting and accessible. A recent study by Aviva showed that 63% of 10.2 million over-50s are having to retire than later planned, with 38% stating insufficient retirement savings as the reason.
While everyone should (in theory – it’s easier said than done!) be saving for retirement, it’s likely that your older workers will be thinking more seriously about it. Maybe they haven’t saved as much as they hoped, or are looking to save extra for potential caring and nursing home costs. Perhaps they just want to put aside some inheritance for their children and grandchildren.
Broader financial wellbeing:
Whatever your employees’ reasons for saving, offer them more than just a basic pension plan. Provide financial advice, saving schemes, or the option to increase pension through salary sacrifice. Financial technology is consistently targeted towards millennials (both in language and design), when in fact all employees can benefit.
Financial benefits can be laborious to learn about, so it’s important to make your communications clear and concise to improve employees’ understanding of their benefits. Whether you use hard-hitting statistics that showcase the hardship of financial burden, or appeal to employees through anecdotal examples – make the most of your benefits marketing by showing employees that you care about their future home life, not just their work.
2. Healthcare and Life Assurance
Healthcare is universal:
Everyone will need healthcare throughout their working life, but it becomes more valuable to those who are older. Benefex carried out research across five businesses (over 5,200 employees), and found that Critical Illness, Dental Insurance and Private Medical Insurance were all in the top five benefits picked by over-50s. It makes sense – the list of healthcare costs are endless: you’ve got basics like dental check-ups, eye exams and regular prescriptions, then there’s one-off medical emergencies or serious ongoing treatment; more likely to arise as we age.
Make it personal:
Try adjusting your communications around healthcare benefits to highlight the specificity of issues older people may experience, or emphasise that when you’re struggling with your health, the last thing you need to be worrying about is money. You can further maximise take-up by offering employees private medical plans and healthcare packages that can be extended to partners or family. These can be a literal life saver, and – should the worst happen – life assurance lets you rest easy knowing your loved ones are looked after. By using potential real-life situations and examples in your communications, employees will relate more to these benefits and realise their importance.
Who doesn’t love a holiday? After working 30+ years it’s safe to say the over-50s have earned a decent break! In Benefex’s research, buying holiday was by far the most popular benefit for staff over 50. Letting employees buy a few extra days of annual leave can allow them to finally take that trip they’ve been dreaming about, or enjoy a family holiday at the seaside. And while a couple of additional days’ leave may appear costly to an employer, the results are immensely positive and to the individual it can make time for priceless memories.
Ironically, the effort of organising a holiday can be overwhelming – the accommodation, the hire car, the insurance, travel to the airport, travel to the hotel, where to eat, what to do, what time of year to go… Why not take the stress out of planning by offering employees travel insurance or travel accounts? Travel insurance was the second most popular benefit across Benefex’s research and is invaluable to an employee. Try partnering with local travel agencies to offer employees easy access or unbeatable discounts, so they can actually switch off on their time off.
4. Experience days
It’s not just millennials who want to go skydiving and snorkelling. Don’t rule out those wild once-in-a-lifetime experiences that employees may want to tick off the bucket list. There are hundreds of memorable experiences out there for the adventurous – from scuba diving and jet-skiing to rock climbing and paintballing. Or maybe for the less daring, they could enjoy a sophisticated day out with tickets for a brewery tour or entry to art galleries and museums.
Providing access to early bird tickets or discounted entry to attractions can easily be added to any existing discount portal you offer, and appeal to a multitude of different ages and interests.
Adjust your communications angle:
You don’t need to work hard to make experience days sound exciting, but when targeting employees over 50 you may want to adjust the angle of your communications. Encourage them to go outside their comfort zone, to try new things they may never have had the chance to; show them that you know their interests aren’t defined by their age.
5. Discounts and memberships
Shopping and more:
Everyone loves a good shopping spree or meal out, and your older employees are no exception! They’ve worked hard for their money, so help them make it go further. You probably have the standard shopping cashback schemes and discounted gym membership, but what about your employees who aren’t interested in fast fashion or community workouts?
Benefits outside the box:
Maybe your staff would like to join the golf club, visit the tennis court or the pool. Perhaps they’re food and wine connoisseurs who’d like a monthly tasting club, or discounted dining out. What about the cinema, theatre trips or spa packages that they can share with friends? These kind of leisure perks, which can be used anytime by employees, on themselves or with others, are a great little extra to core benefits that cater to any interest or lifestyle.
When benefits look and sound ‘standard’, they get minimal take-up – normally from a small population to whom the benefit is critical. Changing this doesn’t have to mean overhauling your benefits system – consider switching up your marketing strategy with targeted, relevant communications. If your employees over 50 aren’t utilising the benefits available to them, maybe it’s time to examine not just what you’re offering, but how you’re offering it. Older workers are bringing a lifetime of knowledge to your business. They deserve an exceptional employee experience in return.