A few weeks ago, my colleague Andrew Clancy, blogged about how companies can keep Baby Boomers engaged at work. Now, I want to look at the other end of the age spectrum, the oft-discussed Millennials.
The Census Bureau categorizes Millennials as born between 1982-2000. This segment of the population makes up 40% percent of the American work force. By 2027, that percentage should grow to 75%. So, the chances are high you are either a Millennial yourself or you manage Millennials.
Companies need strong benefits to recruit and retain top talent across the generations. Affordable health care plans, paid time off, and employer-sponsored retirement matter to everyone. But what benefits are especially appealing to Millennial workers?
1.Tuition Reimbursement/Professional Development Budget
A Price Waterhouse Coopers survey of Millennial employees shows training and development is their most requested benefit.
Some fields need advanced degrees to climb the corporate ladder. Yet, the cost of graduate school can be out-of-reach to many Millennials who carry heavy debt from their undergrad years. In a Gallup Poll, 45% of Millennial workers would be willing to change companies if a new employer offered tuition reimbursement. That should be a wake-up call to HR professionals. Will a competitor poach your rising stars and provide them with the tools they need to do their jobs better?
Continuing education doesn’t always have to be part of a formal degree program. This generation values seminars and workshops that help them grow in their careers. 41% would change companies if given access to a professional development budget.
2. Flexible Work Schedules
In corporate America, the days of 9-5 are going the way of fax machines and smoking in the office. Flexibility was the second most-requested benefit in the PWC Millennials poll. A flexible work schedule can take many forms. It can mean working from home or untraditional start and end times or compressed work weeks.
This benefit is of high importance to Millennial employees. The Gallup poll shows 63% would change jobs to get a flexible working schedule. Fifty percent would change jobs for the chance to telecommute some of the time. Forty-seven percent would change jobs for the chance to telecommute all the time.
Telecommuting has two big benefits for companies. It reduces employee turnover and improves productivity. Both help the bottom line. Flexible working hours allow employees to schedule work when they are at their peak, producing stronger results. Workers on flexible schedules reduce the need to use personal days for daytime appointments. Telecommuting saves employees money on gas or public transit.
3. Child Care Benefits
The Millennial generation is approaching work-life balance in a new way. And that is especially evident in their approach to raising children. Gallup shows 44% of Millennials would switch jobs if their new company offered paid maternity leave. Thirty-seven percent would leave for paid paternity leave. Thirty percent would leave for child care reimbursements.
Human resources professionals may think their employees are not concerned with these issues. But, Business Insider reports an estimated 60 million Millennials will become parents over the next decade. This is in addition to the millennials who already have young children. The Millennial generation may be delaying childbirth, but not forever.
Especially with older Millennials, companies need to meet the changing needs of parents. Having benefits that look after workers’ long-term needs will help with retention when they become parents. Childcare is a large financial burden and discounts would ease one stressor for employees, making them more focused. Backup childcare or even on-site daycare helps employees not to panic when their regular options fall through.
Some employers may think they need to offer trendy benefits, like game rooms or beer fridges, to recruit and retain Millennials. In reality, Millennials want benefits that help them achieve career and life success.