The presence of 4 different generations in the workforce can challenge benefit plan sponsors that want to please them all.

Individuals may differ, but, in general, the employees in Generations X and Y work to live, while employees in the baby boomer and Silent generations live to work, says Minnesota Life, a unit of Minnesota Mutual Companies Inc., St. Paul, Minn.

Minnesota Life benefits experts note in a new analysis that GenX and GenY employees have seen their parents lose jobs despite years of dedication, leading them to be less trustful of employers than are members of earlier generations.

Members of the Silent Generation remember the end of the Depression and the difficult war years and know what it’s like to live within limited means. They are committed and hard-working, the authors of the paper observe.

“Regardless of age, today’s employees want flexibility,” says Paula Bilitz, group life marketing director at Minnesota Life. “However, each generation has its own definition of flexibility.”

For mature workers, flexibility may mean the ability to take time off to care for an ailing spouse, while some boomers may want to slowly phase out of full-time work.

For the younger generations, flexibility may mean having time to focus on lives away from work.