What Millennials Want From Employee Benefits

Portrait of young confident millennial woman.

There’s no getting around it—millennials (born in the 80s and 90s) now make up a large percentage of the workforce and are shaping the future of work as we know it. In order for businesses to grow, and to retain and attract top talent in the current landscape, it’s important to understand how millennials make career decisions.

Why do they leave, and why do they stay? (Hint: It’s not ping pong tables or free snacks).

According to LinkedIn, the number one thing job-seeking millennials want to learn more about prospective employers is their workplace culture and values. Does the company’s mission, vision and values align with their own? And ultimately, the top reason millennials give for accepting a position at a company is the compensation and benefits offered.

You can attract and retain millennial employees, and boost business, by promoting your workplace culture with these sought-after benefits:

1. Learning opportunities and career development

In some circles, millennials as a group have earned a reputation for occasionally being opportunistic and more likely to change jobs than previous generations. But understanding why can help you hang onto ambitious, talented millennial employees.

Many millennials are in the early stages of their careers and are eager to develop their skills. For these reasons, they place a lot of value on learning and career progression opportunities. And when they’re looking for work, they seek out environments and roles that will challenge them and help them advance in their careers.

Did You Know…?

73% of employees who end up staying with a company for more than five years are receiving education and training benefits. [The Deloitte Millennial Survey, 2018]

The employers who are earning the loyalty of their millennial employees are the ones who are investing in them, by offering regular performance feedback, providing stretch projects, and offering opportunities for them to learn, develop, and grow in their careers.

Providing employees with an educational allowance that they can use towards conferences and seminars, training courses, and industry certifications is one way that employers are showing employees that they’re invested in their ongoing professional development.

2. Flexible benefits that offer choice and personalization

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all benefits packages. Today’s multi-generational workforce has diverse needs, and even among millennials you’ll find that goals and priorities differ greatly. Some are married with kids, some are living the single life, while others have pets that they count as dependants. Millennials are more inclined to embrace their individuality and have expectations that their personal needs can—and should—be met.

So, how do you cater to everyone’s needs? You offer more choice. Employers are increasingly selecting benefits plans that offer personalization opportunities for their employees, so that everyone can make the most of their benefits.

Health and lifestyle spending accounts are on the rise for this reason. By offering employees flexible benefits dollars that can be used towards a wide variety of benefits, employers can give each employee the power to choose to spend on what matters to them—whether that’s contact lenses, massage therapy, fitness classes or some combination of these and other benefits.

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3. Support for mental health and wellness

Millennials are part of a generation that has been actively involved in working to remove the stigma associated with mental health. They are also the generation most likely to report a mental health concern.

In addition, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), those between the ages of 18 to 29 are more likely to experience problematic use of alcohol, cannabis and e-cigarettes.

Companies that are promoting mental and physical well-being through wellness programs, company activities, and robust benefits packages have a head start with millennials in today’s job landscape. Popular examples include hosting “Lunch and Learn” sessions focused on encouraging healthy lifestyles, offering benefits packages that include an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), and providing coverage for fitness and wellness expenses like gym memberships or yoga classes.

4. Virtual healthcare

Virtual healthcare provides flexibility, work-life balance, and wellness support; all things that millennials value highly and look for from their work environment.

An up-and-coming benefit, more and more employers are beginning to offer employees access to virtual healthcare as part of their benefits plan, allowing them to more easily connect with a physician from anywhere. Rather than having to make time to travel to a walk-in clinic or sit in the waiting room, they can sign onto the virtual healthcare platform to get diagnosed and even prescribed medication.

Did You Know…?

Only 9% of Canadian employers currently offer virtual health care as part of their employee benefits packages, yet 71% of employees are demanding it. [Medisys Health Group, 2018]

According to Yolanda Billinkoff, director of sales at Akira, “the millennial generation seems most ready to embrace virtual health care.” She refers to a 2018 market survey conducted by Telus Health, which reported that approximately 50% of millennials prefer virtual health care as their primary mechanism for dealing with everyday health issues.

“The same study showed that millennials believed that virtual health could reduce stress and save time off work,” Billinkoff explains. That’s a win-win for employers and employees alike.

5. A pet-friendly work culture

Many millennials are opting for pets over kids—at least for now. As an increasing number of young people choose to postpone having children, so-called “fur babies” have become a popular alternative. One of the fastest ways into the hearts of millennials with pets is to create a pet-friendly work culture.

Pet-friendly workplaces, where employees are encouraged to bring their pets to work, are on the rise. For those employees who pay for dog walkers and doggy daycare, and even invest in pet cams to keep an eye on pets when they’re not home, this can represent substantial savings in addition to an improvement in work-life balance.

If this is an option for your workplace, great! If not, there are other ways to get creative and show some puppy (or kitty) love. Support for pet-related expenses is a lifestyle benefit that is slowly growing in popularity. Providing pet care benefits that cover a wide range of expenses will not only be an attractive offer, but also shows that you care for and understand the needs of your millennial employees. Especially if you already provide some form of childcare benefits for employees with children!

Great benefits for great companies

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