The traditional golden handcuffs meant to keep employees are compensation and benefits. The right mixture will retain an employee for extended periods of time. Benefits can be very attractive reasons to stay with the company, but the benefits of today are quite a bit different then those of yesterday. Management currently is considering ways to hold onto millennial employees. It is not an easy task to do.
Millennials come into the workforce with greater technical savvy than earlier generations. They work with social media, understand the latest technology, and can be very productive. They also have a reputation for being the gypsies of the labor force. Millennials are looking for career opportunities, and chances to use their skills and care about work life balance. However, they also want appreciation shown with the right type of employee benefits. Human resources must make sure millennial- appealing benefits are part of the package otherwise the company will get stuck in a cycle of turnover.
Here are five that millennials would love to see in the employee benefits program.
- Onsite Healthcare Clinics
Employers are justifiably concerned about healthcare costs, and on-site exercise facilities were originally constructed to help employees be more health conscious. Millennials are young, but they get sick and often do not go to the doctor. On-site clinics encourage necessary appointments and are part of a precaution program, with vaccinations as part of the program. Carnival Cruise Lines has on-site health care clinics and has experienced both lower health care costs and less employee absence.
Other employers can experience the benefits enjoyed by Carnival Cruise Lines. Being able to schedule medical appointments on-site permits an employee to get back to work faster than before. The on-site clinic can permit closer interaction between the healthcare provider and the wellness program. That allows the overall benefit to be even more substantial.
- Financial Planning/Wellness
MetLife conducted a study in 2012 on employee benefits trends. The research noted millennials are extremely worried about financial risk. It could be medical costs or income loss, or any other type of financial difficulty. Millennials are deeply concerned, and the anxiety affects their investing and savings activity. Financial planning is geared towards investing and preparing for the future. Financial wellness, on the other hand, looks at present problems.
Student loan debt is something that weighs any millennial down. Many recent college graduates must deal with loan debt in the 5 to 6 figures. It is not the only financial difficulty because credit card payments, with their double-digit interest charges, cause even more anxiety. While a company does have the opportunity to give outright payments, a constructive way to help millennials without breaking the budget comes through financial counseling.
A financial wellness counselor has worked with people in doing more than just developing sensible budgets. Debt management plans can be designed that will allow a young person to renegotiate credit card bills. A final argument for financial planning/wellness is it can help a person develop a sensible budget and meet all ordinary expense obligations. Whatever help an employer can provide with financial planning or financial wellness will be well received by the millennial population.
- Student Loan Assistance
Millennials receive a diploma on graduation day and a bill. Student loans for many of these young people are in the tens of thousands of dollars. There is ordinarily a grace period of six months, but then the payment notices start coming. These can be considerable. Companies that are willing to address the student loan problem can help attract some of the very best talent.
Financial wellness counseling can point out the various payment options, and help a millennial renegotiate the private loans. That is all well and good, but some are going to require financial help. Companies have tuition assistance, and this can expand to providing money for loan repayment.
This is not extravagance. Millennials who have advanced technical skills paid a high price for that knowledge. Management should consider loan repayment as something done instead of paying an even higher base salary for these people. It is important that there is a tenure requirement. For example, if an employee takes student loan repayment that person should expect to stay with the company for at least three years after receiving the money. Student loan assistance has attracted the attention of large companies like Aetna, and is a true millennial benefit, assisting those who greatly need the help.
- Flexible Schedules
The standard 9-to-5 workday does not always accommodate an individual’s private life. The fixed hours may have been something that was simply endured in the past, but it is becoming obsolete in a digital world. Work-life balance is something that millennials are concerned about. Roughly one third give priority to flexible scheduling and not wages. Commuting is a hassle in major metropolitan areas, and very few millennials enjoy a two-hour commute. Flexible scheduling which will allow a person to have a better work-life balance, in addition to an easier work commute, will draw the serious attention of any millennial. Pew Research has found that over three-quarters of the millennials surveyed believe they would be more productive if flexible scheduling were part of the work experience. Flexible work hours and better work-life balance is so important that there are millennials who would be willing to accept lower pay or less frequent promotions to be able to work fewer hours. Recent studies by SHRM have found that most HR departments surveyed found that employees who work from home are actually more productive.
Telecommuting from home a few days a week is an additional scheduling perk that can attract a highly talented young person. The concept of telecommuting also fits nicely into flexible scheduling, permitting a person to work in a very desirable environment. There is more to this, however. Telecommuting recognizes how technology has changed the workplace. Almost any job except those involving repetitive physical labor can now be done just as easily from a computer located anywhere in the world. People can connect with co-workers through platforms such as Evernote, Skype and work via the cloud. Millennials do not see any value in a traditional workplace when working from a remote location is just as productive an environment if not more so. The concept of telecommuting can also appeal to other demographics within a company, and allow employees to do the work outside of a cubicle. The result is more productivity, less turnover and happier employees. The one challenge is making sure an employee still feels actively engaged, appreciated and informed.
- Professional Development
A millennial brings to the table excellent technical skills. This person has invested a lot of time and money in education and wants to develop those further and learn new skills. Being able to develop professionally is going to keep this eager employee from leaving. It can be a career path program or series of growth oriented training.
A mentorship program is an excellent way to help these young people grow. It also allows a relationship to develop which encourages commitment to the company. A mentor can show a millennial employee how to survive in the corporate environment of the company. The relationship is one that helps a young employee develop on a highly personal level, leading to friendships that can last for years. An interesting phenomenon starting to show itself is the idea of reverse mentoring. Employees over forty years of age may not have good social media skills or are averse to technology. Millennials can mentor these older people on how to best use the new technology, allowing senior staff to embrace new possibilities thanks to the Internet and social media. It is a way to help the millennial feel valued while at the same time expanding the knowledge base of any organization.
Management can be a little bit creative when it comes to attracting millennials. There are a few benefits that are workplace oriented and don’t cost an awful lot of money. A quiet room for meditation is appealing and efforts to create a low-stress environment, which do not sacrifice productivity, can be very tempting to a millennial job candidate. Office cafeterias are great, but those that offer nutrition conscious snacks catch the eye of recent college graduates. It is going to be critical in the coming years for human resources to keep its ear to the floor and discover what the trends are. Family care leave is still a big topic of discussion, but millennials often consider their pets to be part of the family. Medical care for animals is expensive and pet insurance may be a benefit worth looking at as well as tools to increase recognition. Management can think of these small improvements as what will favorably tip the scale of an employment decision. Combined with what has already been mentioned above, a company can become highly competitive in the race for talent if millennial benefits are part of the job offer.
The objective of these benefits is more than just keeping folks happy. Millennials are not instantly loyal to any employer. It’s not the 1930s where people will do endure anything just for enough to get by. Many of them are repulsed at the idea of lifetime employment with one company. Most of these people expect to work for several companies during a career, and may even decide to become entrepreneurs. You want to be able to hold onto the services of a millennial for at least 3 to 5 years, hoping that the relationship will last longer. Traditional benefits will only go so far when it comes to retention, and these often need to be updated to fit the wishes of employees better. Adding some millennial-related benefits, in addition to fine-tuning existing ones, will help any employer keep a valuable staff member.