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Health Insurance, Retirement Benefits Most Attractive to Boomer Workers

Survey: Younger employees also interested in remote work, paid time off

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Boomer workers tend to place great importance on health insurance benefits and 401(k) matching contributions from their employers, according to a newly released Harris poll of 2,026 U.S. adults.

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Gen Xers and younger adults also value these benefits but are somewhat more inclined than boomers to put a priority on paid time off and flexible work schedules, according to the poll, conducted for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). 

When asked to choose the top benefits that would help them achieve their financial goals, 71 percent of boomers picked health insurance, and 67 percent said a 401(k) match. Fifty-four percent of boomers also ranked pensions as important, compared with only 16 percent of millennials and 34 percent of Gen Xers.

Boomers place less value on benefits such as working remotely (12 percent) and student loan forgiveness (8 percent).

“With doctors’ visits likely becoming more frequent and retirement years coming into view, baby boomers tend to focus more on health insurance and retirement benefits,” Neal Stern, a member of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, said via email. Younger workers tend to emphasize benefits that affect their immediate quality of life, he added.

Some 48 percent of millennials and 54 percent of Gen Xers selected health insurance among the benefits they value most; 47 percent of millennials and 63 percent of Gen Xers chose the 401(k) match. But just 16 percent of millennials and 34 percent of Gen Xers picked pensions as highly important, perhaps because they no longer exist at most companies.

Younger workers were somewhat more inclined than boomers to cite other benefits. For example, 26 percent of millennials named flexible work hours as important, compared with only 15 percent of boomers. Also, 37 percent of millennials and 33 percent of Gen Xers cited paid time off as important, which was true of just 24 percent of boomers.  

Eighty-six percent of boomers said they were confident that they would fully use their benefits.

Twenty-two percent of boomers said they’re likely to consider retiring next year. The same share will consider reducing their hours, and 13 percent will contemplate changing jobs. Ten percent may switch to freelancing or become a contract worker, and 10 percent will consider starting their own business. Fourteen percent, on the other hand, will think about increasing their work hours.

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