Employee Benefits

Benefits Generation X and Millennials Value

Cheerful university student taking selfie with friends sitting on grass.

There is no question that employees value their health benefits. They rely on these benefits and rewards to help them take care of their medical and daily living needs.  Generation X and millennial employees are the two largest groups of workers in today’s labor force. Although they have different needs, they both want the security of robust, flexible benefits. Find out why Generation X and millennials value benefits.

Generation X

Generation X workers are sometimes called the sandwich generation. This group of loyal workers was born between 1965 and 1980.

Gen Xers often are overlooked at work because they are stuck between the baby boomers and the millennials. Today they comprise about 33% of the workforce. They are the second-largest group of employees. Generation X values education and career growth opportunities. When they can accomplish both goals at a job, they will stick with that employer for a long time.

Many Gen X employees value job flexibility. In addition to work, they juggle many responsibilities, such as caring for their children and aging parents. Benefits that assist with dependent care are appreciated.

They also value traditional health benefits, like medical, dental and vision, but with multiple coverage choices. They also want financial well-being benefits, such as retirement, life insurance and student loan repayment assistance. On average, Gen X workers have student loan debts of $39,584. They have loans for their college education as well as their children’s college tuition expenses.

Gen X employees appreciate receiving information about their benefits and choices in a variety of formats. They like face-to-face meetings, emails, texts, online videos and Zoom meetings.

Bottom line: Employers who offer work flexibility and the right benefits, like student loan repayment, can keep Generation X employees on the job and engaged.


The largest group of employees today is millennials. They were born between 1981 and 1996, and represent about 36% of today’s workforce. Some business experts project that within 10 years, the millennials will represent about three-fourths of the workforce.

Millennials want employer-sponsored health benefits, like medical, dental and vision coverage, as well as 401(k) matching programs. However, due to the pandemic, millennials expect a more diverse menu of benefits. Popular choices include telemedicine, mental health, Employee Assistance Program (EAP), financial well-being and childcare assistance. These benefits must be flexible to fit this group’s varied needs.

Millennials owe on average about $34,504 on their student loans. So, they want to work for employers who provide a student loan benefit to help pay off their debts. With fewer financial worries, millennials can be more engaged at work, and they tend to stay longer on the job.

Benefits communication is important to millennials, and they want it accessible on-the-go. They expect employers to use digital tools, such as text, videos and social media, to tell them about benefits options. Employers who use these methods will find it easier to keep talented millennials engaged and on the job.

Know what employees want

Every generation of employees wants benefits that fit their needs. The best way to know what workers want is to ask them. Conduct confidential annual or pulse surveys to understand the issues and problems employees face. Work with a trusted benefits partner to create a menu of benefit options that emphasize security and well-being. Also, develop a monthly communication plan to educate employees on using their plans.

A recent Wills Towers Watson survey found that 50% of employees surveyed rated better pay or bonuses as first on their wish list. However, 67% said they would sacrifice pay for richer retirement benefits, and 42% would give up pay for better health coverage. This same survey showed that most employees want a moderate mix of benefits options.

Society for Human Resource Management
Pew Research Center
Dynamic Signal