Employers aiming to recruit and retain younger workers are being challenged to foster cultures and benefits that extend well beyond compensation.
Motivated by more than just money, nearly three-quarters of millennial workers who say they are not actively engaged in their work would leave for other job opportunities. These young workers already comprise the majority of the U.S. labor pool and will represent nearly 75 percent of the workforce by 2030. Employers that don't adapt to the values of these workers may face increasing talent struggles in the coming years.
The motivations of younger employees can differ drastically from those of other generations. Research indicates workers ages 18 to 29 generally are motivated less by money and more by things like work-life balance and a company's commitment to sustainable business practices.
Brian Weed, CEO of GradStaff, a national career matchmaking firm specializing in entry-level recruiting and hiring, says younger workers have a strong focus on work-life balance. He says there is a growing trend of employers offering more flexibility and creating a casual, inviting work environment. Extended time off, personal days and fun fringe benefits are almost expected.
Many big companies now are wooing millennial workers with things like paid time off for volunteering, extended maternity and paternity leave, travel stipends and social events during work hours.
"Creating a 'cool' workplace and offering perks like telecommuting, health and wellness stipends, personal technology reimbursements and generous paid time off are becoming part of every worker's expectations," Week says.
Younger workers also are interested in companies with missions that foster progressive values. Research from the Institute for Public Relations found nearly half of millennials consider workplace diversity and inclusion an important factor in their job search. These workers are also interested in making a difference in the workplace and understanding how their efforts relate to a company's mission. Weed says employers need to ensure their websites and social media presence is reflecting these values.
As the labor market tightens and younger workers grow to be a critical source of talent, such benefits and culture are becoming a critical part of recruitment strategies. Weed says while it can be hard for workers negotiate other benefits, they encourage candidates to ask questions related to benefits and perks, particularly after an offer and negotiations begin.
"We advise candidates to be realistic and respectful when negotiating the compensation and benefits, taking into account the size of the employer and specially the culture of an organization," Weed says.
Employers also will need to reevaluate their benefits continually to remain relevant with these younger workers. A 2016 study of millennial employee engagement by Cone Communications found that three-quarters of millennial workers say they would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company. Gallup recently reported they are the most likely to look for and change jobs. More than 20 percent said they had left a job in the past year, a rate three times higher than that of non-millennials.
Younger workers' willingness to switch jobs can be a competitive advantage for organizations that can appeal to these workers. While smaller companies may lack the budgets for big benefits, they can usually offer flexible schedules and strong social cultures. Weed says employers can also engage millennials through recognition with frequent feedback and opportunities for "mini promotions" in the first two or three years. He says millennials should be given plenty of opportunity to interact with management and staff through meetings, group projects and volunteer opportunities.
"Recognition is essential for improving retention and the employee's sense of belonging," Weed says. "Integrating a deeper sense of purpose and responsibility into the work experience will have a clear bottom line return for companies."