Millennials are a huge part of the US workforce. Currently, Millennials make up about 35% of the working population, making them the largest working generation, taking over the spot previously held by Baby Boomers. If you’re not offering benefits that appeal directly to them, you’re potentially ignoring a huge chunk of your employees.
Who are Millennials?
Understanding who Millennials are, and what they care about, offers valuable insight for developing strategies to attract and retain these employees. According to Pew Research, looking at the different generations of Americans brings understanding as to how different formative experiences (such as world events and technological, economic and social shifts) shape people’s views of the world.
Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 is considered a Millennial. Currently, Millennials are now in their working prime, with ages ranging from their late 20s to very early 40s. Most Millennials came of age and entered the workforce facing the height of an economic recession. Pew Research states, many of Millennials’ life choices, future earnings and entrance to adulthood have been shaped by this recession in a way that may not be the case for their younger counterparts.
Millennials are also the first generation to become adults after the Internet had made an indelible mark on business and culture. Because of this, they are generally tech-savvy and digitally focused. Immigration has helped feed the Millennial workforce, adding to its already diverse base.
What Benefits Do They Want Most?
Due to the factors that shaped Millennials, they value the benefits they receive from employers differently than other generations. In particular, Millennials want help with their finances, like company matching 401(k) contributions and student loan assistance. But beyond financial assistance, Millennials want benefits that improve their work/life balance.
According to the Undercover Recruiter, Millennials value:
Flexible Working Hours
Offering flexible working hours helps employees find some balance between life and work. Examples of flexible working hours include:
- Allowing employees to work from home
- Varied arrival and departure times
- Two-week long vacations with a couple of hours of work each day
- Working early before the kids go to school
- Taking a break during the day and finishing up at night
For employees who can’t work from home, a flexible work schedule includes:
- Give personal tech time breaks so they can remain connected with family
- Allow employees to work together to self-schedule or switch shifts
- Provide a competitive amount of PTO
- Encourage managers to lead by example by prioritizing family obligations and taking PTO
Student Loan Repayment
With 44 million Americans owing student loan debt, offering to help employees pay off their student loans is a great incentive. Student loan repayment options can include diverting some 401(k) matching funds to student loans or providing a flat contribution to the employee, either with a cap or without. For example, some companies may offer employees a maximum of $2,000 per year and a lifetime maximum of $10,000 towards student loans. Others may provide employees with $100 per month to go towards student loans.
Health and Wellbeing Support
Health and wellbeing support can be categorized as those fringe benefits that allow employees to live better lives, both mentally and physically. National numbers are showing a current trend towards higher stress and burnout levels in general, with 65% of employees reporting that poor mental health is taking a toll on their job performance and 40% experiencing burnout. Offering health and wellbeing support can support employees and improve performance. Benefit plans covered under the Affordable Care Act all include mental health and substance abuse counseling as part of their essential services, but employers can go above and beyond this by offering:
- Gym memberships
- Fitness trackers
- Health screenings
- Weight loss competitions
- Smoking cessation programs
- Stress management education
- Yoga classes
- Art classes
How to Manage Benefits for Millennials and Your Entire Workforce
Meeting the needs of all your employees can be tricky. Your best bet is to offer core benefits with voluntary options. Keep in mind, health insurance and retirement savings are the most coveted benefits across all generations of your workforce. If resources are tight, this is where to focus your benefits dollars for the most impact.
Voluntary coverages that complement the health plan enable employees to personalize their benefits package to meet their specific financial situation without adding employer costs.
It’s not just Millennials who are struggling with near-term money management. Adding or sweetening your employer HSA contribution can help with out-of-pocket healthcare costs while voluntary offerings like pet or device insurance can insulate employees from unexpected expenses.
Using benefits to improve loyalty, productivity and engagement makes good financial sense. Offering Millennials student loan repayment or Gen X and Boomers better retirement incentives can keep your workforce productive and engaged. Browse our resources on benefits administration to learn more.