For years, employers have expressed frustration at what millennials want in the workplace. Millennials had very different expectations for their careers than previous generations, and employers struggled to adapt.
Now, millennials are approaching 40, and they’re the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. As this generation takes center stage — rising to management positions and launching their own companies — here’s what you should know as a business owner or manager about millennials in the workplace.
5 Essential Wants from Millennials in the Workplace
Millennials are older now, with real work experience. They’ve weathered major changes to the economy, from the Great Recession of 2008 to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their experiences have shaped how they view their careers and their expectations for their work.
Because of their influence, employers will have to make some adjustments to recruit and retain top talent:
1. Remote-Friendly Policies
Even before the pandemic, millennials reported that a remote work environment was highly desirable. In a 2019 survey, 83% of respondents said that the ability to work from home would make them happier, and 81% said the perk of remote work would make them likely to recommend a company to a friend or relative. With these statistics, there is no denying that remote work is top on the list of what millennials want in the workplace.
During the pandemic, more workers got to work from home for extended durations, and millennials are generally resistant to the idea of returning to traditional office life.
With their comfort with technology and focus on improving their work/life balance, workplaces will likely need to adapt and develop remote work policies. Whether that means going fully remote, offering a remote option one or two days a week, or a different approach for specific functions, working remotely is going to be something millennials want and expect.
What millennials want in the workplace is transparency. They value authenticity and expect employers to be transparent and reflect their values in their actions. The focus on transparency can affect many different areas.
Gone are the days when compensation and salary negotiations were secret. In today’s environment, workers openly share their salaries and bonuses and encourage others to do the same. Employers receive pushback when they’re vague about compensation and may struggle to find the right workers.
In a survey from Salary.com, 90 percent of HR professionals said that pay equity is a competitive advantage in the battle for talented workers. However, just 23% of employees felt that their employers were transparent about compensation, showing a large disconnect.
To get — and keep — millennial workers, being clear about how compensation is determined is pivotal.
Millennials believe in meaningful work; what they do for a living is an intrinsic part of their lives and identities. Because of how they view work, millennials place a great deal of importance on company culture and vision. They want to know how their work supports the company’s mission, and they value transparency around company goals and performance.
What millennials want from work is flexibility. Millennials are focused on work-life balance, but that doesn’t mean they’re not willing to work; they just want more flexibility.
Rather than the traditional 9-to-5 model of years past, millennials respect employers that give them greater autonomy and control over their own schedules. For example:
- Allowing employees to work when they’re most productive, rather than requiring everyone to be at their desk at 9:00 a.m. sharp.
- Offering flex schedules so that workers can handle doctor’s appointments or see their child’s recital
- Giving employees the opportunity to take work sabbaticals or extended paid family leave
4. Core Benefits
Millennials are choosy, and they are open to new opportunities. In fact, a Gallup poll found that 60% of millennials would consider a new job if the right position opened up.
As an employer, that means attracting and retaining top workers can be tough. To be competitive in this market, you have to consider what millennials want from work and offer robust benefits. However, that doesn’t mean ping pong tables in the office or gym memberships; millennials are looking for core benefits like health insurance, paid vacation, and matching retirement contributions. Unless you have a strong benefits package, you could have trouble filling open positions.
5. Student Loan Repayment Assistance
The majority of college graduates left school with student loan debt and paying off that debt can be a significant stressor. In addition to health insurance and retirement contributions, another benefit that can appeal to millennial borrowers is student loan repayment assistance.
With these programs, the employer matches the worker’s monthly student loan payments, up to a monthly and lifetime maximum. For example, an employer might pay $100 per month — up to a maximum of $5,000 — toward an employee’s loans.
The Employee Benefit Research Institute reported that 17% of employers with 500 or more workers offered student loan assistance in 2021.
The result? Relieving some of the student loan burden for your employee can result in employees that are more productive and loyal to the company. In fact, 86% of respondents in an American Student Association survey said they’d commit to an employer for five years if they helped them pay off student loan debt.
Giving Millennial Workers What They Want
If you’re interested in offering student loan assistance to your own workers, contact ELFI. Through the ELFI for Business program, you can get the tools you need to offer valuable benefits to your employees, including student loan repayment assistance, personal loan advisors to help employees refinance their debt, and educational resources.* It’s an easy and seamless way to appeal to millennials in the workplace.