Millennials differ from other generations in almost every way, from how much formal education they have to their work experiences, from what age they want to start a family to what they expect from their career.
Born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials value a variety of things from their organization, from the ability to stay connected to diversity initiatives, from collaboration to meaningful work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50% of the workforce in the United States is expected to be made up of Millennials within the next two years, rising to 75% by 2030. A report by LinkedIn found that Millennials will change jobs an average of four times in the first decade after graduating from college, compared to roughly two job changes by Gen Xers in the same time period. In response, employers everywhere are struggling to find ways to attract and retain this unique generation of employees.
Millennials don’t want to be seen as just a number, but as a valued employee that matters and contributes to their organization. Employers can take steps to win Millennial talent by offering personalized benefits that match individuals’ values, such as wellness offerings, while providing total flexibility so they can use them when they need them.
Personalized Benefits Are the Key to Success
Instead of offering the same benefits to each employee, organizations need to bring personalized benefits to life. Organizations must avoid basing offerings on employees’ age groups or their gender. When setting a global benefits strategy, it is important to take individual preference into account.
For example, our “Global Employee Benefits Watch” research found that younger generations are more likely to focus on starting a family, traveling, buying a house, getting married, caring for elderly relatives and career progression. Instead of standard benefits offerings, Millennials are more likely to get value from benefits such as tuition reimbursement for college debt and savings plans for the future. These are all benefits that might not necessarily be important for an elderly employee, who might opt for retirement planning or life insurance. Outside of age groups, employees also value different things that need to be reflected in their benefits packages. For example, one employee might want help improving their financial health, while another may want benefits that support them in starting a family.
The Need for Wellness Benefits
When looking for a new job, Millennials appreciate organizations that prioritize physical and mental well-being, which can include taking proactive steps around stress management to ‘wellness pots.’ Wellness pots will offer employees a set amount of money to spend on activities that have the biggest impact on their well-being, whether that’s a gym membership, therapy or art supplies. This flexible approach helps employees working onsite or remotely feel connected to their organizations wherever they are working.
Beyond having an impact on the employee, wellness programs can help reduce absenteeism, injuries inside and outside of work and improve employee loyalty and productivity. Wellness programs also have high ROI and low investment costs, which makes them an easy win for everyone involved.
Technology for Seamless Connectivity
More than any other generation, Millennials are constantly connected to their environment through technology. Millennials have led older generations in their adoption and use of technology, with 92% of Millennials owning a smartphone. As technology has become so prevalent, it’s important that Millennials are able to stay connected not only in their personal lives, but their professional lives as well.
Our “Global Employee Benefits Watch” research found that among the highest percentage of employees who are satisfied with how they access and manage their benefits, are those who do so through online methods such as email (44%) or on a computer (42%). It’s clearly apparent that organizations need to utilize benefits technology in order to stay connected with their employees. Benefits technology also allows Millennials access to their benefits from anywhere at any time, providing the flexibility a modern workforce needs.
Flexible Benefits Remain Top of Mind
We already know that Millennials value flexibility in everything that they do. Organizations can therefore promote and extend their company culture by being flexible. This may include flexible hours, along with the ability to work from home or remotely to help employees strike the right work-life effectiveness. Currently, there is a lot of discussion in the market about the concept of a four-day work week. Many organizations are starting to test this theory with positive results, such as increased productivity and improved employee sentiment.
Millennials are changing how employees view the workplace. Because of their willingness to switch jobs and companies, this presents a unique opportunity for organizations. Not only does it mean that there is more scope to sweep up top talent by taking an approach that caters to them, but that the need to ensure existing employees feel valued to stop them leaving for a competitor has never been more pressing. Organizations need to make sure that Millennials aren’t treated as another number, but rather an individual, by offering personalized benefits based on employee life stages, and connecting them to their benefits through the use of technology.
About the Author
Chris Bruce is the co-founder and managing director of Thomsons Online Benefits. He has more than 20 years of experience in the benefits industry with a focus on the development of new markets and engaging with global clients.