There’s no denying it: Millennials, now the largest workforce demographic, are shaping the way we do business. And one of the key impacts they’re having is on the way companies are strategizing to attract and retain today’s top young talent.
“Where Generation X sought a work-life balance, Millennials seem far more interested in work-life integration – making the pieces of their professional life and personal life align in ways that they coexist and often times blend together,” says James Morrissey, a Boston-based senior human resources consultant with Oasis Outsourcing.
In response, employers are getting flexible with their work perks and employee benefits programs. You’ve all heard about the trendy perks like ping-pong tables and beer fridges, but do those really make a difference? What about real, impactful benefits?
We talked to a few HR professionals to identify employee benefits that Millennials love. Here's what they had to say:
- Unlimited Paid Time Off
Unlimited vacation time has been getting a lot of attention over the past few years. But even more than vacation, employers are meeting the demand for control over how employees spend their time by merging all forms of paid time off into a single unlimited PTO bucket. As the line between professional and personal time is becoming increasingly blurred, giving employees more freedom over their time off can be an appealing option. There’s evidence that suggests young professionals aren’t abusing this approach to paid time off, but rather they’re even more cognizant of how much time they are taking away from work.
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- Ability to Work Remotely
Millennials don’t want to be chained to their desk. They want the ability to work remotely, whether that’s from home, their local Starbucks or some other location. In keeping with the work-life integration theme, Morrissey says three out of five Millennials expect to be able to work remotely, while fewer than 5 percent of American employees actually consider home their primary workplace. “Consider this a benefit or not, Millennials not only love the idea of working from home, they’re expecting it,” he says, adding that almost 70 percent of Millennials don’t believe regular attendance is required at a workplace.
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- Control Over Their Schedule
Along with the telecommuting option, today’s employees want to have a flexible work day, without scheduled work hours. This provides the freedom to plan their day how they see fit to get the job done, but not have to worry if they choose to take some time off in the middle of the day to run errands. This type of expectation of flexibility is not unfounded – in fact, as research from the Families and Work Institute has shown, employers are becoming increasingly likely to allow employees flexibility around when and where work gets done.
- Ongoing Performance Assessments
Employee engagement is key with young employees. Millennials, in particular, are hungry for feedback, performance assessment and professional development opportunities. While there has been a tendency to write this dynamic off as Millennials being “needy,” in fact, it’s reflective of how this generation learns. Millennials are hungry to learn and grow in their careers, and are subsequently more likely to become bored and leave an organization if they’re not feeling fulfilled and engaged. A workplace that adopts management best practices will be an engaging place that will be more likely to retain their emerging talent for the long haul.
- Professional Development
A recent Pricewaterhouse Coopers survey finds opportunities for advancement in their careers is by far more highly prized by Millennials than anything else in defining an attractive employer. A career-pathing or skills development program will be an important benefit when attracting them. Mentoring, trainings and professional development opportunities that indicate how to advance in their careers will keep Millennials engaged and contributing to your organization.
- A Holistic Approach to Wellness
The popularity of employer-provided wellness programs has only increased in recent years, and by now most mid-sized to large employers are offering some kind of investment in wellness initiatives. Employees today are expecting something more than a gym in the basement and a "Thanks for Not Smoking." They're looking for holistic wellness initiatives that include stress management, yoga classes, wearables, gamification, dietary consultations, mental health supports and more a la carte options.
RELATED: 9 Holistic Wellness Initiatives Employees Appreciate
- Choice in Employee Benefits
Millennials are the on-demand generation. So it’s no surprise they want choice in their insurance options in order to customize a program clearly suited to their needs. One increasingly popular benefits plan is a cafeteria plan where employers allocate a specific amount of money to apply to the benefits the employee wants. They may be less interested in a benefits-rich health plan in order to have vision or some other coverage.
- Lifestyle Solutions
Another hallmark of Millennials is the access-over-ownership mentality. Young professionals are willing to give a lot to their employers, and they expect a lot in return. Given the way we live and work, the way work and life are integrated, it's become an attractive value add for Millennial employees if your company can offer them work-family and lifestyle benefits, such as access to dogwalkers, child care providers, therapists, CSA pickup and just about anything else you can think of.