Employee benefits: how to attract and retain the next generation

By Higginbotham on February 18 , 2015

iStock_Millennial business meeting

Millennials – those born between 1980 and 2000 – are reshaping the nation’s workforce, and U.S. businesses are slated to become ever more interested in their talent through the coming years. Is your organization doing all it can to attract them?

Why millennials matter

Younger workers are a valuable asset for several reasons. For one thing, there’s a lot of them. Millennials account for 25 percent of the U.S. workforce; in 2020 they’ll represent 50 percent of workers worldwide. This is a demographic with a voice.

At the same time, given the shortage of skilled workers in the U.S., businesses are competing fiercely for talent and will continue to do so. As boomers retire, it falls to millennials to pick up the baton. This means that ironically, although millennials are actually more numerous than Gen Xers, they’re in higher demand.

The value of millennial talent goes beyond population size though. American millennials are particularly tech-savvy, having grown up with the digital revolution happening all around them. As a result, they’re more familiar than any other demographic with the key business tools that your organization depends on.

Finally – perhaps most importantly – millennials aren’t satisfied with how business has historically been done. They don’t want what previous generations have wanted ... and they’re in a position to push for more.

How to attract and retain the next generation

So what do millennials want? There are plenty of articles out there with long lists in answer to that question, but if you look closely, you find that it boils down to three basic themes.

  1. Millennials want creative latitude. They want to innovate, to exercise some independence over their work, to get opportunities to lead and to make a difference (source).
  2. Millennials want to be socially connected. They want mentorship opportunities, to work for companies that are giving back to the community and the world, to collaborate with their teammates and to have fun at work (source).
  3. Millennials want a job that supports their life. They want work-life integration, a flexible schedule, opportunities to exercise and eat well in the workplace and an excellent benefits package (source).

Don’t underestimate that last point: Benefits are important to millennials. Last spring, Forbes observed:

“Benefits, it turns out, are becoming a more important factor determining where people, including millennials, choose to work. In 2012, for example, only 28 percent of respondents in MetLife’s annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study of 1,200 employees said that benefits were an important reason they came to work for their current company. In 2013 the number was up to 43 percent.”

Specifically, millennials scan for employers who offer the option to choose the health and voluntary benefits that are important to them, and the tools to get accurate information in real time. In short, the same things that millennials crave in general – “flexibility, information, freedom to decide what is best for them” – are what they desire from their benefits package as well.

At a time when attracting and retaining younger workers is a CEO’s greatest staffing challenge, are you being proactive about building your millennial team? For assistance with cutting edge employee benefits packages and wellness programs, contact the experts at Higginbotham.


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