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With the unemployment rate at an 18-year low, the competition to attract and retain top talent has become increasingly challenging. Millennials now make up 75% of the workforce, so tailoring your benefits program to their needs is important.

Whereas previous generations valued health plans and 401ks, the new workforce sees these benefits as standard. They’re looking for employers that are going above-and-beyond traditional benefits to provide additional value.

In today’s post we’ll explore several types of employee benefits that appeal to the Millennial generation. We’ll look at:

  • Financial wellness and literacy programs
  • Student loan repayment assistance
  • Unlimited PTO plans
  • Flexible work schedules
  • Opportunities for advancement
  • Health and wellness benefits

1. Financial wellness and literacy programs

Financial wellness is the ability to manage short-finances while also saving for long-term goals. The Millennial generation struggles significantly with achieving financial wellness. Research by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that up to 61% of an average company’s workforce has fair to poor financial wellness.

Millennials are very concerned about financial wellness, with 64% stating they are stressed about their finances. With personal finance at the top-of-mind for many Millennials, it’s no surprise workplaces are beginning to offer financial wellness programs as a part of their overall benefits plan.

Research by Aon Hewitt reported that 77% of employers plan to offer some form of a financial wellness program in the coming years.

Some ways companies can approach financial wellness include:

  • One-on-one financial advice via a financial coach or investment advisor
  • Access to financial literacy apps or budgeting tools
  • Offering educational workshops, classes, or lunch-and-learns
  • 401k education programs

2. Student loan repayment assistance

Research by Student Loan Hero found that having too much long-term debt was the top financial struggle of Millennials. Nearly 70% of college graduates have student loans, with the average undergraduate facing $30,000 in loans.

A survey by IonTuition found that Millennials are struggling to manage their student loans, with 37% of respondents stating they had fallen behind on student loan payments. The same survey found that 36% of respondents would prefer a student loan repayment assistance program over a 401k plan.

Student loan repayment assistance programs allow employers to match employee contributions to their loan repayments. These programs have the potential to make a big impact on the workplace satisfaction and overall wellness of Millennials, with research finding that such programs can reduce loan repayment time by four years.

According to SHRM, only 4% of employers offer student loan repayment assistance. This represents a significant opportunity for employers who want to become an employer of choice for top Millennial talent. Those interested in starting a student loan repayment assistance program can work with organizations like Peanut Butter, Tuition.io, or Gradifi.

3. Unlimited PTO Plans

Unlimited PTO, offering employees paid time off with no cap, first originated in Silicon Valley as part of the emerging startup scene. Startups offered this perk to help attract top talent they might otherwise have not been able to afford.

However, uncapped vacation time is slowly becoming more common. Many Millennials see unlimited PTO as a highly sought-after benefit that affords them and their families greater flexibility.

Research by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) indicates unlimited PTO programs are becoming more popular. General Electric recently implemented a “permissive time off” policy, which effects over 30,000 salaried employees in the U.S.

That being said, current research estimates the total percentage of companies in the U.S. offering unlimited vacation time at around 2%. A survey by HR association WorldatWork indicates that only 1% of large companies offer unlimited PTO.

Unstructured PTO policies are seen as a large value-add to employees, while costing employers little to roll-out and administer.

4. Flexible work schedules

Today’s workforce is demanding greater flexible in scheduled work hours. Work-life balance is a number one priority for Millennials, and they believe flexible work hours helps them achieve it.

Flexible work hours manifest in many ways. Some examples include:

  • Day-shifting (allow employees to work 7:00-3:00 or 10:00-6:00)
  • Remote work (allowing employees to work from home)
  • Summer hours (half day on Fridays during the Summer)
  • Allowing employees to come in late or leave early occasionally without taking PTO

Flexible work arrangements allow Millennials to better manage their careers and their families. According to a  study by Bentley University, 77% of Millennials say that flexible work hours would make the workplace more productive for people their age.

In fact, being more flexible with work hours can actually help your employees become more productive. A research study by Stanford found that when compared to employees with traditional work hours, telecommuters completed 13.5% more calls than the office workers, performed 10% more work overall, left the company at half the rate of people in the office, and reported feeling more fulfilled at work.

When it comes to appealing to Millennial talent, flexible work schedules are an important component of the equation. McKinsey & Company found that millennials are more likely to accept a job offer from a company that offers flexible work schedules.

5. Opportunities for advancement

Millennials are looking for employers who provide them with continuous opportunities for advancement and professional growth. In fact, research by Gallup found that “opportunities to learn and grow” was rated as the most important factor Millennials looked for when applying for a job.

Studies show that 21% of Millennials left their job in the last year to do something else, a number that is three times higher than that of workers from other generations.

Addressing the Millennial desire for advancement can help your company attract, develop, and retain top Millennial talent. Some ways that companies can get intentional about opportunities for advancement include:

  • Develop and document a dedicated career-pathing program
  • Provide an annual training or continued education stipend
  • Instill a coaching leadership style within your management team
  • Launch a mentorship program
  • Allow your team members to cross-train or work in cross-functional departments

6. Health and wellness benefits

Millennials want wellness programs, but not in the traditional sense. Previously, company wellness programs focused on initiatives such as smoking cessation, disease management, and weight-loss challenges. However, today’s workforce demands a more modern, comprehensive approach to wellness.

When approaching wellness benefits, employers should take advantage of apps and mobile-friendly websites to help engage employees in health and wellness campaigns. Millennials check their phone an average of 50 times per day, so incorporating technology into your wellness program is key.

Some ways to build a modern Millennial-friendly wellness program include:

  • Provide treadmill workstations or standing desks
  • Offer onsite fitness programs like yoga or Zumba
  • Provide healthy snacks through a service like SnackNation
  • Integrate gamification in your wellness program by sponsoring companywide fitness challenges
  • Leverage wearables and mobile apps throughout wellness initiatives
  • Provide mental health education and support
  • Offer a nutrition and diet platform such as Zipongo
  • Launch a stress management program
  • Offer discounted gym memberships or fitness classes via a partner like ClassPass

Key Takeaways

In today’s post we explored several ways employers can integrate Millennial-friendly programs into their overall benefits strategy. Some key takeaways include:

  • Millennials now make up a majority of the workforce
  • The Millennial generation is looking for more than a standard benefits package from their employer of choice
  • Financial wellness programs address the Millennial need for improved financial literacy
  • Unlimited PTO plans are a cost-effective method to appeal to the Millennial desire for greater flexibility in the workplace
  • Flexible work schedules address the desire for better work-life balance
  • Opportunities for advancement is the number one concern for many Millennial job-seekers; career-pathing, mentoring, and coaching are all great ways to address this
  • Millennials demand a modern, technology-driven approach to health and wellness
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