Rewarding and recognising a multigenerational workforce

How you can support the multigenerational workforce by launching an age-inclusive reward strategy to aid retention and attract new employees.

9 July 2024

People are working for longer and more flexibly, creating a diverse and multi-generational workforce, with a total of five different generations soon to be in employment. Each generation is made up of individuals that will have different needs, values and priorities as they progress through the different stages of life and in response to the environment around them.  

To be able to offer a reward package that is meaningful, cost effective and has long-term impact, they need to be diverse, inclusive and adaptable. Every individual will look to rewards that resonate with them and feel connected to. 

Analysing your workforce data to understand the age-diversity of your workforce will provide some useful insight that can be used as you shape your own age-inclusive rewards and benefits strategy, so that your package supports the differing needs for different people at different stages of their lives. 

Harness the benefits of an age-diverse workforce 

Organisations need to rise to the challenge of being more inclusive to an increasingly more age-diverse workforce. The retirement age is extending and there are shifts in lifestyles and changing work expectations that impact people choosing to remain in or leave the workforce. It is becoming more common for people to choose portfolio careers or retrain and move industry during their working life. 

These changes can bring benefits to organisations such as, more experienced staff in the team to transfer knowledge and skills and innovative new ways of working. Reward and benefits can play a vital part in supporting the different generations to thrive and succeed. They can support the retention of existing staff because they know that whatever stage of their life they are at, there are a range of benefits they can access. Having an age-inclusive rewards and benefits strategy will also encourage prospective employees to join an organisation if they can see they are supported at every stage of the life. 

Organisations will also need to adapt to future changes as new generations enter and contribute to the workforce. For instance, Generation Alpha is the next cohort of NHS staff, and they will bring new expectations regarding reward, how they value recognition and communication techniques. 

Currently, there are four generations in the NHS workforce. The following animation defines each generation and provides some key facts and figures in relation to how each one is represented.   

What can employers do to create an age-inclusive reward strategy and employee benefits package? 


Ensure flexible working is available to all staff 

Flexible working can support the attraction and retention across all generations within the workforce. Flexible working matters to all generations for different reasons, whether that be caring for children or older relatives, managing a chronic illness, maintaining a work-life balance while working and studying or working flexibly towards the end of someone’s career as they enter retirement. 

Redefining recognition 

New forms of recognition and non-financial benefits are an important consideration to a multigenerational workforce. Technological changes in the last couple of decades, have brought about new ways to recognise and reward for example, online apps and recognition platforms. Social and political changes has seen a shift in the importance of sustainability and the impact that individuals have on the environment. There will be many more changes in the coming decades, so it is important that organisations remain agile and innovate to incorporate these into the future of reward and recognition. 

Provide wellbeing support 

People are working longer and more flexibly and therefore benefits must consider all age-related events. Each generation will face different challenges as they go through each stage of their life and reward and benefits strategies should be there to support these. These could include support for events such as pregnancy, chronic health conditions and menopause.  

Financial support and education  

All generations will face times within their life and career where financial education, signposting and support will be important. Employers should look into what is included in their financial wellbeing package to ensure the benefits and support within this are age inclusive.  For example, managing debts, saving for the future, pension scheme information and guidance. 

Tailoring communications to each generation 

Whether communicating about local benefits such as financial education or national benefits such as those provided by the NHS Pension Scheme, employing a variety of communication methods ensures maximum reach and visibility of key reward offerings, leaving no generation overlooked. This for example, could be using the staff intranet, mobile apps, workshops or posters in and around wards and corridors. This is also key when staff across all generations have an interest in a specific benefit. For example, staff early in their career could be engaged on the importance of accessing and paying into the NHS Pension Scheme throughout their career, which also is a beneficial message for people in late career, up until those nearing retirement age. Ensuring a variety of communication for the same messages is important to ensure an inclusive rewards and benefits strategy. 

Understand your data 

Employers can access data to show how their workforce is made up, including ages, bands and roles. You could spot trends and patterns by analysing and cross sectioning the data available, for example, on the uptake of certain benefits. Perhaps there are particular benefits that are not as well accessed by certain demographics within the workforce. This information will enable employers to target their reward and benefit communications to make sure all ages within the workforce know and understand about the different benefits available.  

The above animation shows the breakdown of each generation within the NHS workforce, including which bands are most populated. Employers are encouraged to compare this to their local data and use as a useful tool to help with decision making when developing an age inclusive reward and benefits strategy.