The Benefits Millennials Want from Their Employers | Incentive&Motivation

Millennials are reshaping the workplace in many ways: this tech-savvy generation of digitally literate workers are driving big changes in the corporate world, from the devices that we use and the way that groups of workers collaborate, to the demise of the traditional 9-5 work patterns. So – the benefits millennials want from their employers are also set to change. With millennials making up the largest group of workers: in fact, according to Deloitte’s Millennial Survey1, it’s estimated that by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials – so getting your employee benefits strategy in line has never been so important.

For employers looking to attract and retain the top talent from this younger group of workers, benefits that go beyond the traditional pension and health plans are an important part of the mix. However, many organisations are missing the mark when it comes to tailored and targeted packages which will appeal to this age group.  Investing in the right schemes – personalised to meet an individual’s requirements – and moving away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach, not only helps to attract the right staff, but also reduces staff turnover by instilling greater loyalty and engagement with the company. We caught up with  James Whelan, MD, Avantus Systems to take a look at some of the key learnings in this area.

How to customise benefits programmes to your demographic

The most successful benefits programmes recognise that employees’ expectations change throughout their lifetime. The benefits millennials want from their employers will be different to your ‘baby boomers!’ On top of that, what appeals to a worker when they’re 25 will be far removed from their priorities when they’re 50 so customising benefits packages so that employees have more control and choice throughout their career, is a route to greater uptake.

For the younger demographic in particular, the benefits millennials want from their employers include things like flexibility and autonomy. Unlike their predecessors, this a demographic for whom job instability and the vagaries and uncertainties of the gig economy are the norm. In all likelihood, they’ve found it harder than previous generations to gain a foothold in an increasingly competitive job market, but they will be more inclined to move jobs swiftly to progress their career.

What motivates millennials?

So once they’re hired, what really motivates this group of workers?  With many still paying off student debt, thoughts of contributing to a pension will not be high on the list of priorities.  A competitive salary is important, but the reality is that rewards and recognition for meeting performance targets are a key incentive to retaining the best talent. Workers feel more engaged if they feel they have a stake in something and are part of a team that’s moving towards a common goal. So, if teams are putting in extra effort, it’s important that this is recognised. To this end and, given the rising costs of living, millennials are more likely to be interested in benefits that can fill the gap that their income doesn’t cover.  Payment cards and cashback from retailers are particularly appealing, providing the employee can select from a range of options that best suit their needs.

Flexibility is a key benefit for the younger workforce

Flexibility and achieving equilibrium in the work-life balance also matter to this generation of workers, so programmes which recognise the need for free time are also particularly valued.  A FlexJobs survey in the US found that 34% 2 of millennials have quit their jobs because they weren’t offered flexible working options. In this way, one benefit makes a big difference for millennials is holiday trading. In our time-poor working world, the opportunity to buy extra time off for leisure activities is highly valued amongst this age group. There’s also evidence that providing this level of flexibility can lead to improved productivity and fewer unplanned sick days for organisations.

 Tech can help create bespoke employee benefits systems

This is where new advancements in technology are helping to streamline and transform the way in which employees are presented with new packages, offering a more customised approach and bespoke benefits.  The benefits millennials want from their employers are led from the fact they have been leading the charge as consumers, when it comes to demand for customisation, so it stands to reason that a data-led approach to delivering tailored packages will enable employers to drive greater uptake.  New ways of analysing data based on machine learning can not only provide insights into an individual’s preferences based on their lifestyle and interests now, but can also anticipate how their requirements might change and present them with options that they would otherwise not have seen.

Providing personalised options that appeal to this age group, is only the start; communicating these benefits so that employees understand how to access them and what’s available is essential in driving engagement.  Uptake can be low when managers aren’t trained or equipped with the skills in how to communicate packages and their importance in motivating and retaining team members.

Whilst technology can enable a whole new approach to personalised benefits, it’s important to remember the role of human interaction in driving a culture where benefits are understood and valued.

In summary

Taking a more creative approach to delivering and communicating benefits to this group of workers can pay real dividends in the long term; meeting the specific preferences of different demographics can ultimately lead to a more engaged, motivated and productive workforce, leading to higher staff retention, lower resourcing costs and, overall, a better business.