By 2025 three out of four workers globally will be part of the millennial generation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In other words, your employees and workforce is younger and evolving. Make sure your company understands the complexities of this up-and-coming generation so you can better engage employees and attract new talent.
Who are millennials?
As Baby Boomers retire or move to new phases of their careers, millennial employees are fast becoming a workforce majority. But who are they? Here are a few key insights:
- Born between 1980 and 1992, many millennials came of age during a financial crisis — the dot.com bust or Great Recession.
- Nearly 60 percent of millennials say they are open to a new job and only 29 percent are engaged at work, according to Gallup .1
- Money is a big concern for millennials: Millennials are the first in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate predecessor generations had at the same age, according to Pew Research Center .2
In the workplace, millennials are a complex bunch. They tend to be confident and collaborative, yet want flexible work schedules and consistent feedback from managers. In general, they are very social and have strong opinions. They seek both mentorship and meritocracy. In addition, they are driven by a sense of community both at work and in the world beyond.
Convincing millennials to invest in themselves
Millennials clearly have significant financial concerns yet many still prioritize job satisfaction over salary. They would rather love what they do than earn more. This is important to keep in mind when determining workplace benefits for your employees. (Calculator: The cost of losing a key employee)
As an employer, it’s important to help millennials feel both valued and financially secure as employees. That means engaging them differently than other groups — and really considering how to package, cater and deliver workplace programs and benefits in an effective way as a key method of engagement.
Proactively build programs tailored to millennials that will make them happier at work and, in turn, more receptive to your employee benefits message. Here are eight ways to do just that:
- Customize your communications
Millennials are “digital natives,” and technology plays a big part in influencing how they receive benefits information. They expect communication to be open, easily accessible and easy to digest. Consider using digital channels like emails, podcasts, secure internal sites, private Facebook pages or even mobile apps that push notifications about benefits. And be sure to craft language that is punchy and colloquial, personal and genuine. Speak to the individual, not the group.
- Use numbers that relate
The idea of purchasing life insurance coverage can be daunting to millennials and young employees. So break down the costs and show that they can really afford it. Does one veggie wrap or latte a week pay for a policy? What are they paying per month, per week or per day?
- Establish employee mentors
A mentorship program can go a long way towards millennials gaining trust in your company. And workplace benefits should be a part of the conversation for younger workers. Consider incentivizing older employees to advise younger staff on the value of retirement savings, disability coverage and life insurance. Conversely, reverse mentorship allows millennials to feel valued by advising the more mature workers on current technology, navigating the web, and how to access benefit information online.
- Connect retirement to insurance
Benefits are not just about 401k plans, so make sure to connect the dots from disability and life insurance to retirement planning. Showing the importance of security today and in retirement is key to getting millennials to participate more actively overall.
- Adopt community campaigns
Millennials want to make a social impact — and they want to work for companies that share their commitment. Become involved in charity work within your community, run wellness campaigns and take service outings that bond everyone together. This creates a happier workplace and will help make millennial employees more receptive to hearing about other things like employee benefits.
- Add fringe financial benefits
Niche benefits like gym discounts are a popular way to show that companies care about the health and wellness of their employees. To really connect with millennial employees on other important topics, consider bringing in financial professionals to talk about issues like debt counseling, basic budgeting, insurance and retirement.
- Open up the benefits conversation
Millennials want to know that you’re listening. They want to feel appreciated. So when exploring digital channels for communications, make sure your strategy includes the ability for two-way conversations around benefits. Consider incorporating surveys, feedback forums and private pages that allow employees to discuss and review workplace benefits.
- Empower millennials
Make your millennial employees an integral part of your company and they are likely to respond in kind. Provide them with leadership opportunities within your organization. Allow a platform for sharing their knowledge. Let them stretch their creativity and develop their own initiatives, side projects and goals. This will make your millennials more engaged, more satisfied — and more receptive to workplace benefits.
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This article was originally published in February 2016. It has been updated.
1 Gallup, “Millennials: The Job-Hopping Generation,” May 12, 2016.
2 Pew Research Center, “6 new findings about Millennials,” March 7, 2014.