For the first time ever, Canada's workforce encompasses five generations: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z.
Millennials, also known as Generation Y, were born between the early 1980s and mid 1990s—and they tend to be misunderstood by other generations. They're assumed to be less committed and industrious than their predecessors.
But their values and goals are actually similar to those held by prior generations. (Check out this great article from TPD on Engaging Millennials in the Workplace.)
They’re just more likely to focus on happiness and to speak out about what they want. To Millennials, "work-life balance" is not a luxury, but a necessity.
To retain the best Millennials, smart employers must clue into what appeals to these 20- and 30-somethings. Let’s look at benefits for Millennials, and zero in on which ones are most important.
What Benefits Do Millennials Want? Here’s Where to Start.
1. Holistic Health Care
To Millennials, good health—and good health care—are essential. Don't assume that only older workers value comprehensive medical insurance. Today's younger generations place high priority on taking care of themselves.Note that Millennials define “health” more broadly than prior generations might. Health encompasses not only physical health, but also mental health. In addition to conventional medical insurance, Millennials also want extended benefits such as physiotherapy, massage, and especially prescription and dental coverage, which aren't covered by Canada's health care system.
Further, while mental health issues were once swept under the rug, today there is more awareness, especially among younger generations. A recent study found that 20% of Millennials report depression, a percentage higher than that for any other generation. Offering free mental health support would resonate well with this socially aware generation.
Tip: Offer Wellness Programs
Be proactive about holistic health by offering wellness programs, such as employer-paid fitness classes or memberships, lunchtime yoga, and nutrition workshops. Don't forget fun social events—such as team sports, birthday parties, and Friday pizza. Keep your youthful employees happy and you'll encourage not only their enthusiasm, but also their positive word-of-mouth (through social media, of course!).
2. Flexible Work Schedules
What do Millennials value in the workplace? More flexibility. For them, work-life balance is second only to salary as the highest priority in choosing a job. They aren't willing to sacrifice their personal lives and thus seek flexible work schedules. Born in the Internet era, they do not see the necessity of the traditional 9-to-5 workday. Likewise, if they can work anytime anywhere, they question why they must always be physically present in the office.
Why not let them work from home one day a week? Shift their workday extra early or extra late? Job share? If you're open minded about work schedules, you give employees a sense of ownership over their lives—and show that you trust them.
3. Learning Opportunities and Career Development
Millennials view entry-level jobs as temporary stepping stones. They're keen to learn and to advance. If you offer training and mentoring—plus real opportunities to move up—you'll catch their attention.
Accustomed to having information at their fingertips, they thrive on a constant stream of information and change. If you hold them back, they will look for other options.
Here are a few ways to keep Millennials engaged and motivated:
- Offer training courses using e-technology
- Develop a mentoring program
- Promote internal promotions
- Give regular feedback and public recognition
4. Effective Communication
Having grown up with smartphones and FaceTime, Millennials typically communicate by texting and video chats—in contrast to prior generations' preference for phone calls and meeting in person. They thrive on instantaneous communication since they are always "connected."
In addition, Millennials also expect straightforward exchanges about their work. They expect a reason for doing their work. They want to know why they must do something, not merely how to do it. They're likely to question the status quo.
Their pushback, even if based on curiosity, might strike older generations as defiant. To encourage intergenerational understanding, try "reverse mentoring" in which junior employees are paired with senior counterparts. Millennials can teach Boomers how to use the latest digital tools—and they can find common ground and collaborate together.
Millennials already constitute the largest age cohort among Canadian workers. Sooner than you might think, they will be your company's leaders. If you're out of touch with the Millennial mindset, you'll lose this critical demographic and weaken your competitive edge. Your company’s leadership and human resources department should begin to adopt strategies that will help better engage Millennials in your workplace. Offer these key employee benefits for Millennials—and bridge the generation gap!
Ready to learn more about the benefits of an employee wellness program?