What You Need to Know about Gen X, their Financial Stress, and Benefits

What do employers, and the brokers that advise them, need to know about Gen X? What is their financial stress like? What benefits do Gen Xers want most and what’s the best method to engage them? That’s the topic of an article by Christy DeFrain, Purchasing Power’s Vice President of Sales, in the July issue of Advisor Magazine.

According to the article, over 4 in 5 (89 percent) of Gen Xers who are employed full-time or have a spouse employed full-time are at least somewhat stressed about their current finances. They report that causes of their stress are: Household bills (e.g. mortgage/rent, utilities and transportation) - 48 percent; Lack of funds to cover unexpected expenses (e.g., car repair, home repair) - 39 percent; Retirement planning (e.g., little or no retirement savings, no post-employment plan) - 39 percent; Healthcare expenses (e.g., deductibles, prescription costs, medical bills) - 33 percent; High credit balance - 38 percent; and accumulating credit card debt - 37 percent.

Providing the right benefits can help ensure their years of experience and expertise aren’t lost. Of course, the “standard” traditional benefits such as medical, vision and dental coverage are important to this generation. Their keen interest in financial security dictates income protection (disability insurance) should be on the list as well. But they also expect a broader range of healthcare services than they are currently offered.

According to DeFrain, Gen X might be the generation needing the most variety of benefit options -- precisely because they not only have children but are also very likely taking care of their parents as well. Their benefit needs include everything from income protection, financial wellness and retirement education, to family support, child care and elder care. By offering a variety of voluntary benefits, employers can provide Gen Xers the opportunity to customize their benefits package to meet their individual needs, even though they may need to pay the premium.

While Gen X isn’t perhaps the most visible generation, they’re also not as eccentric -- they fly low on the radar. However, it’s Gen X that is a company’s source of power and that’s what keeps a business together. Understanding what is important to them, what motivates them and how they want to work will allow employers and brokers to structure benefits and develop programs that attract Gen Xers and keep them at the heart of the company.

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