There's little disagreement on the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the American workforce. Across the board, employees have struggled to adapt to new remote working conditions.
However, a new report reveals that younger workers are faring better than baby boomers in some regards.
In its 19th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, financial services company MetLife found that 51% of workers in their 20s report that their work-life balance is better now than before the pandemic. On the other hand, only about a quarter of baby boomers feel the same way.
Remote work experiences differ for younger and older employees
An earlier survey published by Microsoft found that, generally, employees are feeling overworked and exhausted, and experiencing a lack in work-life balance.
MetLife's report goes further to show that, while baby boomers have been impacted by remote working conditions to a greater degree, Gen Z and younger millennial employees are working to make the best of their current situation.
For example, these respondents attributed an improvement in their work-life balance to their newfound ability to spend time with their family (40%) and work from a better location (30%).
On the other hand, MetLife discovered that a lack of in-person casual conversations (42%) and work boundaries (33%) are contributing to boomers' dissatisfaction with their current work situation.
In fact, although about 50% of all employees surveyed are now working outside of normal business hours more often, only 8% of boomers took more time off this year (compared to 36% of 20-something employees), due to travel restrictions and having too much work on their plate.
Workers want benefits and programs tailored to their specific needs
In exchange for providing the work that fuels the success of their organization, workers generally expect some sort of support from their employers — this has become increasingly clear in light of the current crisis.
MetLife learned that 72% of workers are considering the safety and protection of themselves and their family more important than ever before.
In a different survey, SilkRoad Technology showed that over half of the office workers polled wished their employer offered more support in their new remote work environment.
Likewise, the MetLife report found that 2 in 5 employees don't feel that companies are offering programs and other perks that support their well-being at this time. While most employees consider financial benefits among their top five most desired benefits right now, only 37% of companies have put more resources towards these initiatives.
In addition, workers want a different mix of benefits at every stage of their life. MetLife's study showed that, compared to last year, employees in their 20s wanted more mental and financial health benefits, including:
- Legal services (up 19 percentage points since last year)
- Student debt assistance (up 19 percentage points since last year)
- Life insurance (up 11 percentage points since last year)
Meanwhile, boomers prioritized perks that focused on their physical health. In particular, 71% of these respondents considered vision care a must — an increase from 53% last year.
Employers that heed the needs of their workforce can expect a return on their investment. MetLife found that employees with an adequate benefits package are 42% more likely to feel more resilient. Furthermore, the most resilient employees, when compared to the national average, report feeling:
- More productive (96%)
- More engaged (91%)
- More holistically well (68%)
Methodology: MetLife and Rainmakers CSI conducted two distinct studies in December 2020 and January 2021.
For the employer survey, they conducted 2,500 interviews with benefits decision makers and influencers at companies with two or more employees. The core employee survey gathered data from 2,651 interviews with full-time employees ages 21 and older at companies with at least two employees.