(How we rebound)
In a previous article, I outlined how Baby Boomers are quick to point fingers at Millennials for many of the issues the Baby Boomers created. I went so far as to call Baby Boomers “more self-centered than the self-centered Millennials they blame for everything.”
We can have a different point of view about which group is more at-fault; however, the conversation isn’t likely to generate a solution if all we’re focused on is placing blame. I equate it to political debates on Facebook. They don’t advance the conversation. They simply entrench individuals to their side of the argument and embarrass their family members in the process. I’m talking to you, Uncle Phillip!
The truth is, no group or generation is perfect. We’re all to blame for the current state of affairs and we should all be working together towards a solution. Instead of looking for ways to cast blame, here are some ideas to consider when it comes to helping Millennials address the wealth creation deficit of their generation:
Consider alternative rewards or incentives which shorten the wealth creation cycle
Millennials aren’t buying homes or getting married as early as previous generations. Why? Because those big life moments are expensive. If you’re still paying off student debt, odds are you don’t have a significant chunk of money to lay down for a down payment on a home, engagement ring or wedding. Companies often focus on longer-term benefits for their employees– think 401k contributions or deferred comp plans – but companies could benefit by re-working their incentive and reward programs to help these younger employees more immediately. Down-payment assistance programs or larger bonuses (in lieu of 401k contributions) would have a more immediate impact. Instead of wasting money on rent, Millennials might finally be able to secure a mortgage and help build longer-term wealth.
Recognize retirement saving will look different
How Millennials save and approach retirement will be almost entirely self-funded. We should support new and creative ways for managing retirement. Companies could consider more non-elective contributions to a retirement plan on behalf of their employees versus only matching contributions. Yes, by offering matching contributions you are encouraging employees to get some skin-in-the-game, but the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Non-elective contributions would directly help generations of people save more for retirement.
Stop punishing individuals for choosing a path which didn’t include post-secondary education
If we continue to push a college degree at everyone, the cycle of student debt will continue in perpetuity. For all the recent (and overdue) emphasis on skilled trades certifications, we still use a college degree as a filter for job interviews, selection and in some cases, promotions. The time has come to evolve our thinking on the value a college education has in today’s business world. I’m not saying stop sending people to college. I’m saying stop using it as filter #1 in your job search. We should be placing a greater emphasis on attributes like job fit, relevant experience or previous results.
These solutions don’t require massive changes to retirement tax law or a complete overhaul of company policies. These are solutions which every business – small and large – could take today. Let’s work together across generational lines to help generate wealth for the largest generation of people today.