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Trends in DI: Working with Gen X and Millennials

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A stunning statistic: Today, households headed by adults younger than 35 have 68 percent less wealth than households headed by adults of the same age in 1984.1

This surprising and unfortunate figure is the result of the Great Recession and an uncertain economy. Because baby boomers are staying in the workforce longer to recoup lost savings, younger generations are not moving up in their careers as quickly, leaving them with lower salaries and decreased earning potential.

What does this mean? For these age groups, salaries are staying flat due to decreased upward mobility in the workplace. Also, family costs, such as child care, elder care and family healthcare, are all on the rise. Being forced to do more with less is taking a toll on Generation X and millennial employees — and their employers.

To care for older and younger family members, these sandwiched employees are more likely to use Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits.

How can employers decrease the burden of FMLA absences? Here are two ways.

  1. Provide flexible work options. Although an employer often can’t increase an employee’s salary, there are other ways to make up for these lost benefits. By giving employees flexible options for where and when they can complete their work, employers can decrease the likelihood of an absence. In addition, these flexible options can increase productivity. Employees who are struggling to find resources to pay for services or are overwhelmed by family responsibilities are more likely to spend time at work on nonwork tasks. Offering convenient work options will help these individuals manage the demands on their lives without cutting into work time.
  2. Track use of FMLA leave efficiently. Having a comprehensive absence management program is key to keeping accurate records of intermittent leaves and ensuring that these benefits are used correctly. In addition, these programs can reduce the burden HR managers may face when tracking multiple uses of leave.

The aging workforce has impacted younger workers and their employers, but a spotlight on flexibility and effective absence management can ease this burden.