The secret sauce of successfully securing millenials in today's challenging labor market often comes down to a company's benefit offerings and how much flexibility and choice they give employees.
And it seems that maturing millenials are less drawn to workplace perks like foosball, beer on tap, and midday naps than they are to benefits and support for things like family care and building financial security for retirement.
Millennials—those between the ages of 23-36, and reportedly the largest generation in the workforce at 56 million—are starting families, caring for aging parents, and making financial decisions for their futures, putting benefits at the forefront of their decision on where to work.
"We are definitely seeing millennials looking for these kinds of benefits," Alyssa Johnson, vice president of account management for benefits provider Care@Work, told Bloomberg Law.
Many employers are listening to millennials and expanding their offerings to give employees more choices, Todd Katz, executive vice president of group benefits at MetLife, told Bloomberg Law. "In industries where they are warring for talent, that's even more true," he said.
Tailoring benefits to employee demands is just the first step, however. "It's even more important to effectively communicate those benefits to employees and make it super easy for workers to make the selection they want," Katz said.
Family Care, Retirement Priorities
There is a growing care crisis in the U.S., and it's likely informing the shift in benefits that millennials want, Johnson said. Workers in the 23-36 age range find themselves responsible for both their children and aging loved ones, creating complications for them—women especially, she said.
"Women are traditionally charged with being the primary caregivers for both of these groups. This results in absenteeism, decreased productivity, and ultimately turnover," Johnson said. Employers that want to retain female talent in their workforce need to provide benefits that can help decrease this distraction, she said.
In practice, that means offering flexible scheduling for employees who need to get to doctor appointments, paid family leave for new parents, financial benefits to supplement outside care expenses, and back-up care for unplanned interruptions, Johnson said. "Employers have made some strides in their care programs, but there's certainly a long way to go," she said.
In addition to care-giving, millennials also are focusing on their own retirement. Pentegra's 2018 Millennial Benefits Trends report found that 401(k) retirement savings ranked first on the list of must-haves for millennials, with 39 percent rating it "extremely important." Tying for runner-up were health insurance and pension plans, both of which were ranked "extremely important" by 30 percent of millennial respondents.
Benefit Flexibility at Ultimate Software
Nearly 70 percent of millennials say they're willing to pay more to have benefit choices that meet their needs, Katz said. Even more (80 percent) see the ability to customize benefits as a leading factor in how they select an employer.
Ultimate Software has found this to be a recipe for success.
"We have five generations represented across our company, so we make sure we're constantly asking what matters most to them and what more we can do to ensure they have the resources and support they need to be their best selves," Vivian Maza, chief people officer at the HR technology provider, told Bloomberg Law in an email June 7. "We have benefits and programs in place that will cover their interests and needs at every level of their careers and lives."
This approach has put the company at the No. 3 spot on Fortune’s Best Places to Work list. The organization covers 100 percent of health-care premiums for employees and their families, and it is expanding that coverage to include benefits for IVF treatments, Maza said.
Ultimate Software offers 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and paid adoptive leave, and four weeks of paid paternity leave, and also provides working parents with $300 in child credits per year to help offset related costs.
For employees more focused on retirement, the company has a 40 percent dollar-for-dollar company match on all 401(k) contributions, and every employee receives equity in the form of restricted stock units, Maza said.
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