From free food to a commitment to student loans, organizations looking to hire younger workers are learning to boost their millennial-friendly benefits, and when the time is right, let loose.
Trying to add young professionals to your staff? Now might be a good time to look at the benefits you’re offering—and where you can make them stronger.
When it comes to attracting millennials or generation Y, a lot of it comes down to added flexibility that gives them a degree of added control or freedom over their destinies.
So what does that look like? Some of those benefits can get pretty weird, but they certainly don’t have to. Here are a few ideas to perk up employee experiences:
1. Casual Everyday, not just Friday. Should your staffers have the freedom to wear a pair of jeans in the office just because the day ends in “y”? Increasingly, many organizations are embracing this approach. A piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer noted how this workplace trend was growing, with many organizations putting in a rule where people could dress however they liked, as long as they weren’t taking part in a client meeting. According to a 2018 Society for Human Resource Management report [PDF], half of all organizations allowed for casual dress daily.
2. A four-day workweek. The traditional 40-hour week may be hard-wired into the way that many organizations work, but support has increasingly been growing for four-day weeks. A New York Times story about Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand company that tried out this approach, found results that were so successful that the company is looking to expand the strategy permanently. Jarrod Haar, an HR professor and researcher at Auckland University of Technology, analyzed the results and found that work-life balance improved by 24 percent, without affecting output. “Their actual job performance didn’t change when doing it over four days instead of five,” Haar told the newspaper.
3. Student loan repayment programs. Perhaps the buzziest trend in recent years has been the concept of student loan repayment. While still relatively uncommon (SHRM says just 4 percent of respondents to its 2018 study offer it), it’s an idea that draws tons of attention whenever it comes up. However, the approach does face some challenges: PlanSponsor notes that there remains a significant amount of confusion over whether such benefit plans are tax-deductible or not.
4. Free lunch. Whoever said there’s no such thing as a free lunch didn’t work in an office in 2019—where free lunches are often offered as an employee perk. But not just any kind of food will do. As former Associations Now blogger Emily Bratcher wrote in a 2017 post, you can’t just order fast food for your team and call it good. “Millennials are the foodie generation, so if you’re going to the effort to cater in food, you should try and make it good,” she wrote.
5. Longer parental leave. Generations Y and Z are often right in the age range where taking some time away from the office for the birth of a child is a simple fact of life. Of course, organizations that go the extra mile with leave for both mothers and fathers can really stand out. (It’s particularly common in the tech space.) The SHRM report finds that not only were paid maternity and paternity leave on the rise in 2018, but so were leave events for adoption, foster care, and surrogacy. “However, although the prevalence of paid parental leave is increasing, larger organizations were considerably more likely to offer this benefit than smaller organizations,” the SHRM report said.