Study: Benefits’ Preferences Vary by Generation and Gender

Millennials and Boomers favor more vacation, Gen Xers want richer retirement benefits

ENFIELD, Conn. – What employee benefit would most American workers choose if they could? It depends upon their generation and gender.

New research from MassMutual finds that preferences for healthcare insurance, retirement savings, vacation and other benefits largely hinge upon workers’ generation and gender, complicating benefit choices for employers. Overall, 47 percent of American workers age 18 and older prefer more vacation time, with 44 percent preferring better 401(k) matches, according to the 2015 MassMutual Generations@Work Study.

Upon closer inspection, however, Baby Boomers (ages 50-70) and Millennials or Generation Y (ages 15-35) opt for more time off from work while Generation X (ages 36-49) favors richer retirement benefits, according to the study. Men tend to prefer more time off while women focus more on health-related benefits.

A broader menu

“Given the varied preferences for employee benefits, the takeaway for employers is to offer as broad a menu of benefits as possible and consider offering new or expanded benefits on a voluntary or employee-paid basis,” said Elaine Sarsynski, Executive Vice President of MassMutual Retirement Services and Worksite Insurance. “At MassMutual, we’ve found that connecting to workers based on their age, gender and life stage drives greater satisfaction with benefits. Offering guidance tools help employees make the most of their benefits.”

the takeaway for employers is to offer as broad a menu of benefits as possible and consider offering new or expanded benefits on a voluntary or employee-paid basis

Half of all Boomers surveyed (50 percent) and 48 percent of Millennials said they would opt for more vacation days if they could, according to the study. Nearly half of Gen Xers (47 percent) prefer better 401(k) matches, the survey found, with more vacation days coming in a close second (44 percent).

Generational Preferences

After choosing more time off, Boomers expressed preferences for financial benefits. Forty-three percent of Boomers would like better 401(k) matches, 38 percent would appreciate having free healthcare coverage, and 24 percent wanted more investment choices for their retirement savings, according to the study. Four in 10 (43 percent) want expanded healthcare benefits.

Breaking with Boomers, Millennials like the idea of flexible work schedules (43 percent) and reimbursements for education and tuition (30 percent). But many Xers joined their Boomer colleagues in wanting better 401(k) matches, most likely a reflection that few Xers have access to pensions and that many Boomers have not saved enough for retirement, according to Sarsynski.

He Said, She Said

Men’s benefits of choice were more vacation time (50 percent), better 401(k) matches (43 percent) and flexible work schedules (39 percent), MassMutual’s study found. Women’s preferences were more evenly spread between more vacation (44 percent), better 401(k) matches and flexible work schedules (40 percent), expanded healthcare premiums (37 percent) and free gym memberships (31 percent).

In addition, there were bigger disparities between men and women when it came to benefits such as free gym memberships (men: 20 percent; women: 31 percent), education/tuition reimbursement (men: 18 percent, women: 27 percent), and more investment choices for retirement (men: 18 percent, women: 11 percent), according to the study.

Study Specifics

The research was conducted on MassMutual’s behalf by KRC Research as part of an employee benefits education initiative. The study focused on 1,517 working Americans who were at least age 18 in a wide variety of jobs and industries.

According to the study, the benefits Americans would most like to receive from their employer were as follows:

                                           Total     Gen Y   Gen X   Boomers   Men   Women   Hispanics
More vacation                            47%      48%      44%      50%          50%    44%       47%
Better 401(k) matches               44          35         47         43             43        40           41
Flexible work schedule              36          43         41         30             39        40           39
Expanded healthcare                 38         28          37         43             32        37           34
No healthcare premiums            40         27         32          38             33        30           31
Free gym membership               21         28         25          23             20        31           26
reimbursement                           17          30         19          15            18          27          23
Free lunch                                   18          17         17         13             19         13          16
More investment choices            14         13          11         24             18         11          14

New Benefits Tool

Because benefit choices hinge on employees’ preferences, particularly as they relate to their personal financial needs and life stages, MassMutual is working to help workers make better choices, according to Sarsynski. Earlier this year, MassMutual launched MapMyBenefitsSM, an online tool that enables employees to prioritize their benefits choices, making the most of each benefit dollar based on their life stage, financial goals and personal finances. More recently, the insurer introduced BeneClick!SM, a benefits exchange that enables workers to enroll online in a wide range of benefits, including their employer’s retirement plan, healthcare coverage, insurance protection products and others. The holistic approach to financial planning at the workplace combines retirement readiness, healthcare coverage and preparation for life’s unforeseen events.




About MassMutual
Founded in 1851, MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyowners. The company has a long history of financial strength and strong performance, and although dividends are not guaranteed, MassMutual has paid dividends to eligible participating policyowners consistently since the 1860s. With whole life insurance as its foundation, MassMutual provides products to help meet the financial needs of clients, such as life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, retirement/401(k) plan services, and annuities. In addition, the company’s strong and growing network of financial professionals helps clients make good financial decisions for the long-term.
MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives. MassMutual is headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts and its major affiliates include: Babson Capital Management LLC; Baring Asset Management Limited; Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC; The First Mercantile Trust Company; MassMutual International LLC; MML Investors Services, LLC, Member FINRA and SIPC; OppenheimerFunds, Inc.; and The MassMutual Trust Company, FSB.
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