Trends with benefits

For the past few years, two groups have dominated any discussion of demographics—that being, of course, the boomers and the millennials, two large populations that have, in many ways, dictated media, trends and technology.

But just how well have we defined these groups? That was the question Max Valiquette, managing director of intellectual property with Bensimon Byrne, put to the audience at his closing keynote speech at Benefits Canada’s Benefits & Pension Summit, held in Toronto last week.

Valiquette pointed out that the two groups can actually be broken down into several subgroups, and employers should be aware of exactly which subgroup they’re targeting in everything from their daily communication to their recruitment strategies.

For example, the baby boomers have long been defined, at least in part, as the generation that led the revolutionary zeitgeist of the 1960s. However, as Valiquette pointed out, that definition points to only about 10% of the general population. The younger generation of boomers—that is, those born between about 1954 and 1964—actually make up a significantly larger percentage of the population.

“Younger boomers are far more entrepreneurial than older boomers,” said Valiquette. “An awful lot of the things that we apply to that culture, that sense of rebellion, of social change….Many of those changes are actually the responsibility of a much smaller group of older baby boomers.”

Meanwhile, at the opposite end, the millennials have been loosely defined as any group between the ages of 10 and 34—but again, Valiquette points out that this demographic breakdown is simply too broad.

While the entire group may influence trends—and, in fact, according to Valiquette, millennials have more influence on the general population than ever before—there are again subgroups, and they are at vastly different life stages. “Not all millennials are created equal,” he commented.

“If you work in attraction or retention of any kind, focusing on younger millennials is kind of useless….It’s important to focus on those who are ‘new careerists,’” which Valiquette describes as being 25 years of age and older.

Valiquette explained that, on the whole, the younger generation is carrying out what he calls a prolonged pre-adult life stage. They are graduating later, moving out of their parents’ homes later, marrying later, having children later than even just a few short years ago. Which means, it’s unlikely that millennials in their early 20s will be interested in settling down and establishing a career.

In an age where technology is becoming increasingly personalized, it makes sense that employers should target their own communications and policies to reach as many individualized groups as possible, something that’s often overlooked in discussions about generations. It’s no longer just about recruiting millennials. “Make sure you have a good strategy in place for attracting and retaining the right group of millennials,” said Valiquette.

All the articles from the event can be found on our special section: 2014 Benefits & Pension Summit Coverage.

Tammy Burns is a Toronto-based writer and editor.