Retirement for Five Generations

In a multigenerational workplace, how may retirement benefits meet the needs of employees at every age and life stage?

For the First Time in History, the Workforce Consists of Five Generations of Workers.


Creating a retirement solution that meets the needs of employees and encourages contributions to, and participation in, a retirement plan isn’t just a good idea—it’s a strategic business decision. But today’s workplace is evolving quickly.

As of 2022, nearly 75% of the U.S. workforce was under the age of 55.

As baby boomers retire and Generation Z enters the workforce en masse, employers find themselves facing a critical question:


How do we design a retirement solution offering that fits the needs of our employees at every stage of life?

Today’s multigenerational workforce1

Five Generations: From Silent to Gen Z

Across generations, preferences on money management, lifestyle and even the ideal retirement goals vary. Understanding the commonalities and differences of a diverse workforce can provide insight on plan features, support, education and outreach that’s most valuable to all employees.


Silent Generation, born between 1925 - 1945

Likely the last generation to rely heavily on a defined benefit pension plan benefits, this generation is believed to value long-term employment with the same company. They tend to be overly optimistic about their social security benefits and retirement savings,4  while underestimating the amount of health care expenses they may incur post-retirement. They are the least likely to ask for help, but this generation would benefit from individualized support to help them build financial security. Providing education to the Silent Generation workforce that can be shared or extended to their spouses can help build engagement and solvency for the entire household. For ongoing financial training and support, ensure such participants are connected to in-person or phone resources via their pension provider, bank or credit union.

Baby boomers — born between 1946 - 1964

Baby boomers are transitioning into, or are quickly approaching, their retirement window. Like the generation before them, baby boomers can sometimes overestimate the amount of social security benefits and monthly income they’ll earn from retirement savings post-retirement.7  Resulting from the 2008 financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, many baby boomers are facing financial hardship in retirement and will likely need additional resources and education to create a clear plan for their transition out of the workforce into retirement. 

Generation X or Gen X, born between 1965 to 1980

Gen Xers are at the peak of their earning years, with anywhere from 15-30 years remaining until retirement. Despite this, 65% of Gen Xers are worried that the money they have saved won’t be enough come retirement – and for good reason.11 This “sandwich generation” is likely contending with the expenses of college-aged children and aging parents. Providing a robust retirement readiness solution and support in establishing lifetime income could help facilitate engagement with this group.

Millennials, born between 1981 - 1996

As the largest of these workplace generations, millennials feel the pressure of “getting settled”—buying a home, marriage, kids, or professional development—which can conflict with their retirement readiness. As a result of the 2008 recession, the COVID-19 pandemic and having non-mortgage debt in average of $27,25115 millennials are more likely to take a loan against their retirement savings than previous generations. Financial education around repayment plan options, loan consolidation, and student loan repayment benefits could make a substantive impact on retirement contributions and savings for millennials.

Generation Z or Gen Z, Born in or after 1997

For our youngest generation in the workforce, retirement feels far away, but money management is a key concern for Gen Z. 46% of Gen Z employees report that they live paycheck to paycheck.19As the newest entrants to the job market, their finances also suffered in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the Gen Z (and millennial) workforce, providing education, planning tools and retirement plans with age and risk-tolerance based investing solutions—like target date funds—may help set them up for long-term financial success.


The Key Characteristics of a Personalized Retirement Plan

Designing a retirement solution that fits the full range needs of a diverse workforce can feel daunting. However, here are a few components that can help make your retirement benefits work harder for all employees.

  1. 1
    Coaching from Plan Sponsor

    Despite the generational differences, these employees have one thing in common: Participants’ desire for a knowledgeable professional to help guide them through the unknowns of retirement. Experienced financial advisors can provide insight around financial decision making, education on how to plan for retirement effectively and guidance on available options. Such education and guidance does not constitute tax or legal advice, and participants should also consult with their legal and tax advisors.

  2. 2
    Content & Education

    Finance-related matters can sometimes be overwhelming and complex. For this reason, providing a retirement solution that offers a wide range of educational content and education—both in person and digital—may be helpful. Educational content offered to plan participants can work as guidance with respect to the wide range of decisions that come up with plan participants spanning generations.

  3. 3
    Planning Tools and Investment Solutions

    Regardless of an employee’s life stage, an essential consideration for reaching retirement readiness is planning early and often. Be mindful that the resources available to your employees include tools and investment solutions that allow for wealth planning—both near and long term—and take into account holistic financial health and resiliency for a 360-view of financial wellness.

When Employees Thrive, Companies Thrive.

For businesses, providing retirement benefits is a strategic decision—with implications for talent retention, competitive positioning in the market and culture. With a workforce spanning five generations, creating an innovative retirement benefits plan that helps meet the individual needs and challenges of a multigenerational workforce is important to the plan's success.

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