Customizable benefits are key to engaging, retaining, andÂ motivating millennial employees.
By Bradd Chignoli
Millennials have become the largest generation inÂ the labor force, making up more than one-third ofÂ the total workforce, according to a Pew ResearchÂ Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. As a result,Â organizations are striving to understand and meetÂ the needs of this diverse demographic. And this is justÂ one generation. Todayâs workforce spans fourâsoonÂ to be fiveâgenerations, and is comprised of variousÂ demographic and socio-economic backgrounds. So, itâsÂ more important than ever that organizationsâ benefitÂ options are just as diverse and are designed to meetÂ each employeeâs individual goals and needs. How canÂ this be accomplished?
- Provide customization. Millennials are growing up:Â The age range for these workers is now between 22Â and 35 years old, and their benefit needs are likelyÂ to vary widely. Because of this, employers need toÂ prioritize offering benefits that are personalized andÂ easily customizable. In fact, MetLifeâs 16th Annual U.S.Â Employee Benefit Trends Study (EBTS) finds that theÂ ability to customize benefits to personal needs is key toÂ attracting millennials, with 80 percent of workers in thisÂ age group agreeing this matters most when consideringÂ a new job.Â Not only are millennials seeking out customizableÂ benefits, but they are also willing to pay for it. DataÂ from the EBTS shows that 69 percent of millennials,Â compared to 60 percent of all employees, say theyâreÂ willing to pay more to have benefits choices that meetÂ their needs. When it comes to benefits must-haves,Â millennials have a different perspective than their GenÂ X and baby boomer coworkers, moving away fromÂ traditional benefits and toward voluntary benefits. ThisÂ younger generation sees more value in benefits suchÂ as accident, critical illness, legal services, and financialÂ wellness programs.
Customization and flexibilityânot only in employeeÂ benefits but also in professional development andÂ work schedulesâare key to creating aÂ greater sense of connectivity in theÂ workplace. Organizations thatÂ donât adapt to offering moreÂ flexible work options standÂ to lose top talent to thoseÂ that do. And the ability toÂ tailor benefits to meetÂ worker needs remainsÂ a high loyalty driverÂ among employees,Â with 70 percent of allÂ employees saying theyÂ are looking for theÂ ability to customize,Â according to the EBTS.
- Use technologyÂ to improve work-lifeÂ balance. Flexible workÂ arrangements are also a keyÂ driver to creating a productiveÂ and engaged workforce. WithÂ unemployment at record lows andÂ skilled job seekers in high demand,Â providing employees the balance they desireÂ has never been more important than it is today. In fact,Â according to the EBTS, offering a flexible scheduleâwhich 71 percent of employees say is the most helpfulÂ factor in balancing work-home responsibilitiesâbuildsÂ loyalty.
Organizations that deploy mobile technology, such asÂ online meetings and remote log-in capabilities, reapÂ rewards. For example, accommodating an existingÂ employeeâs request for flex work through technologyÂ will eliminate the need to find and train a new hire,Â leading to overall increased productivity.
- Evolve the role of the employer. Within the millennialÂ generation are additional subgroups with even moreÂ diverse views on the role employers play in workersâÂ lives. MetLifeâs 2017 Role of the Company found that,Â in particular, millennial women were more likely thanÂ average to desire greater involvement from theirÂ employers in providing retirement security, careerÂ development and training programs, and financialÂ wellness support. This further emphasizes theÂ importance of communicating with all demographicÂ segments to ensure that the needs of all corners of theÂ workforce are met and every employee is set up forÂ success in the organization.
- Offer training and continuousÂ learning. ProfessionalÂ development also relates toÂ engagement, as employeesÂ who believe their companyÂ provides them withÂ appropriate training toÂ be successful are 15Â percent more likelyÂ to feel connected atÂ work. EBTS data showsÂ that while 77 percentÂ of employers sayÂ they are committedÂ to their employeesâÂ success, only 65 percentÂ of employees agree.Â Whatâs more, less thanÂ two-thirds of youngÂ millennials (ages 21 to 24)Â believe that their employersÂ provide sufficient training to helpÂ them stay successful.
How can organizations expect their employeesÂ to stick around if they are underserving them in theirÂ current roles, not to mention neglecting to provideÂ development opportunities for growth?
Harnessing technology and available tools, such asÂ webinars or e-learning courses, creates an integratedÂ learning experience that provides employees withÂ access to a range of development opportunities and canÂ foster a more engaged and loyal workforce. EBTS data Â shows that when employees feel they are provided withÂ training to help them succeed, they also feel valued byÂ their employers.
- Deliver financial well-being tools. One of the biggestÂ areas of interest for millennial employees is financialÂ wellness programs. Offering these types of benefits isÂ a win-win for employers as well. The EBTS found thatÂ nearly a third of employees (30 percent) admit to lyingÂ awake at night worrying about money. And, of course,Â these preoccupations donât get left outside of the officeÂ doorâthey are brought into workplaces every day,Â leading to a less productive and less engaged workforce.
By implementing a financial wellness program,Â organizations can show their support for employees byÂ not only encouraging them to address their financialÂ anxieties, but also by giving them the tools to achieveÂ their short- and long-term financial goals. Millennials, inÂ particular, are faced with significant amounts of studentÂ loan debt which could hinder their abilities to meet lifeÂ milestones, such as buying a home, starting a family, orÂ saving for retirement.
A sense of connection in the workplace throughÂ customizable benefits, financial wellness, flex time,Â and professional development programs is beneficialÂ to all. Organizations that offer such benefits gainÂ better recruitment and retention, and increasedÂ productivity and engagement from employees. WorkersÂ experience less stress, better health, and a greaterÂ sense of empowerment and appreciation. In the end,Â productivity and engagement will be the reward.
Bradd Chignoli is senior vice president of national accounts, groupÂ benefits, for MetLife.