Employers today are adjusting to the changing face of the workforce. With many baby boomers retired or nearing retirement age, they’re making way for millennials, whose workplace values and interests are vastly different than those of previous generations.
In 2015, millennials became the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. According to the Pew Research Center, more than one-in-three American workers (about 53.5 million) are adults between the ages of 18 and 34; the youngest of the baby boomers will turn 52 this year.
Job-hopping has been declared the “new normal” for millennials. While many baby boomers are retiring from jobs they’ve worked nearly all of their professional lives, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average worker today remains in a job for only 4.4 years.
As a result, employers are using benefits to “tame millennials’ job-hopping ways,” updating their offerings to match the wants and needs of this very different population of workers.
What a millennial wants
According to a survey from job-search website Beyond, about 90 percent of respondents with student-loan debt think that companies should incorporate student-loan repayment into their benefits packages. Beyond also reports that out of the 5,000 people surveyed, one in 10 job-seekers say student-loan repayment is a more attractive benefit than paid vacation.
Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) conducted an online survey of 4,364 graduates from 75 countries and found that millennials cited training and development as the most important benefit an employer could offer. It ranked ahead of more traditionally sought-after healthcare benefits, pensions and retirement funding.
The PwC study also notes that flexible work hours rank second among millennials, implying that work-life balance is extremely important.
They value the flexibility and ease of being able to work anywhere thanks to Wi-Fi and other technology. But while millennials may wish to be mobile, more traditional bosses may be accustomed to and comfortable with more face-to-face contact with employees to ensure productivity.
Additionally, according to Ernest & Young (EY)’s Global Generations Research, nearly 80 percent of millennials in the workplace have spouses who work full-time. On the other hand, the EY study also found that many top management positions are occupied by baby boomers, 53 percent of whom don’t have a full-time working spouse.
The Washington Post suggests that, due to the recent generational differences in the workplace, many bosses may not understand why their millennial employees crave work-life balance. This disconnect is underscored by the findings of the PwC and EY studies: many managers may not understand why work-life balance can be impossible to achieve because they simply can’t relate.
What’s an employer to do?
The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and research firm Greenwald & Associates compared findings on millennials’ opinions of work benefits. They found millennials are less likely than other working-age generations to consider benefits packages to be extremely important in their decisions to accept or decline a job offer.
To attract and retain the best talent, it’s becoming increasingly important for employers to create relevant benefit packages for their millennial employees. Forbes outlines several ways employers can attract millennial workers: employers should ensure a solid work-life balance, including acknowledging employees’ personal needs and social lives outside the workplace.
Organizations should also offer more career-development opportunities. Millennials desire to be developed as professionals so they can perform their jobs to the best of their abilities.
Lastly, according to CNN Money, millennials want to know there’s room to be promoted within the organization and receive raises.
Research and Reporting Fellow Cortney Graham assists with collecting, analyzing and reporting workforce data and monitoring Charlotte Works’s progress toward meeting performance outcomes. She most recently served as a high school social studies teacher in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, where she used data to help improve student achievement. Graham’s background also includes research and data collection as the research assistant to the Provost at Winston-Salem State University. She is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University with a bachelor of arts degree in political science and public administration. Graham is currently pursuing her master’s degree in public administration from UNC Charlotte and will graduate in May 2017.
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