Free breast-milk delivery offered as employee perk

In 2015, the U.S. workforce’s “on-demand” revolution lured 3.2 million people, mostly millennials, to Uber, Amazon Flex and other app-driven gig platforms. According to software consultant Intuit, that number will more that double by 2020.

The challenge for conventional employers is to coax this generation into the office 9 to 5.

Some employers have been thinking outside the box to do so – including the Grant Thornton accounting firm, which has been among the more innovative of major employers rolling out appealing perks.

Here’s the latest: free breast-milk delivery.

New mums at Grant Thornton can pump while on business trips and have the milk shipped overnight to their babies in Kansas City.

The company has a deal with a California outfit called Milk Stork to address a practical dilemma for young working mothers. That’s in addition to benefits such as unlimited days off and $100 reimbursements for adopting rescue animals.

Workplace recruits anymore “want employers to recognize all those important aspects of their lives and not just their life at work,” says Jessica Robino, human resources manager at Grant Thornton’s downtown office.

At Pro Athlete Inc., a Kansas-based online retailer of sporting goods, unlimited paid time off — so long as your tasks are done — is part of its “empowerment culture.”

Besides creating an environment in which Pro Athlete workers wish to stay — most are in their 20s or 30s — plum benefits make sense from a practical standpoint: Today’s techies can be tomorrow’s competitors.

After all, “anyone these days can download Shopify and be running their own online (stores) in a matter of months,” says chief operating officer Andrew Dowis, himself a millennial at age 33.

Pro Athlete perks that older workers would likely never expect include no-cost health coverage, weekly massages and free meals all day at work.

Still, newfangled benefits may not be the ticket to get young, creative professionals in the door.

“The thing that draws me the most is making decent money,” says University of Missouri-Kansas City music student James Taylor.

Debt, pets, ID theft

Many companies have buffed up packages to include assistance to relieve crushing student loans, free gym memberships, backup child care, smartphone discounts, protection against identity theft and paid time off for staff to attend charity causes.

“There’s a social aspect to the work environment that we think is important” to younger employees, says Julie Wilson, executive vice president and “chief people officer” at Cerner Corp.

The social aspect includes Cerner campuses offering monthly cooking classes, dog-walking services, days in which local farmers bring in their organically grown produce and personal financial planning.

Elders might grumble that a generation who grew up pampered with praise and participation trophies must now be coddled in their careers. But many employers see it differently.

“Millennials are expecting a different work experience, and that’s affecting all workers positively,” says Chris Gould, director of global talent acquisition at the Kansas City headquarters of Black & Veatch engineers.

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