It’s no surprise that Millennials, or those born roughly between the years of 1980 and 2000, are now the largest generation in the workforce in the U.S. as of 2015. They’ve successfully worked alongside previous generations and are no longer unfamiliar in the workspace. Now it is not a question of “what are Millennials like?” but rather a question of what do they want in a company. What makes a company enticing enough to make them want to stay? To answer that, one good place to start is to take an honest and data-driven look at the employee benefits you’re offering.
We anonymously surveyed 100 people between the ages of 18 and 32 regarding which common benefits they value as the most and least important when imagining their ideal employee benefits package. The benefits in question consisted of the following:
- Healthcare: general physicians, emergency, specialists, etc.
- Vision: eye exams and prescription glasses
- Retirement Benefits: pension plans, registered savings plans
- Wellness Programs: exercise, health and safety programs, gym reimbursements
- Life Insurance: up to one year’s salary paid to your beneficiary in the event of your death
- Dental: basic dental coverage
- Tuition Reimbursement: job-related college courses
- Vacation Leave: paid vacation time
- Family Leave: paid time off for maternity, paternity, or adoption
- Disability Insurance: income reimbursement when you are unable to work due to illness or injury
We asked the survey participants to rate how important each benefit was to them on a scale of very important, moderately important, or not important. Participants were also asked to explain which of the listed benefits are most important to them and why. The results were very insightful.
The Benefits Package Must-Haves
Not surprisingly, Healthcare emerged as the top benefit priority for millennials, with 18% of respondents identifying it as “very important.” Vacation Leave and Family Leave were tied for second, with 13% of participants identifying them as “very important.” Healthcare has been a hot-button topic, especially in recent years, so it’s not too surprising to see that it far surpassed the other benefits. Here is the full breakdown of the percentages of participants who voted each of these benefits as being “very important”:
‘Very Important’ Benefits
- Healthcare: 18%
- Vacation Leave: 13% (tie for second)
- Family: 13% (tie for second)
- Dental: 9%
- Tuition Reimbursement: 9%
- Disability Insurance: 9%
- Retirement Benefits: 9%
- Vision: 9%
- Life: 7%
- Wellness: 4%
Here’s a summary:
“Healthcare! Need I say more?” one person answered. Many participants stated that without proper healthcare, they don’t feel safe. Many expressed concern that their employment would be rendered null and void if they became too sick or injured to continue working for an extended period of time. Respondents also cited the high cost of healthcare when it’s not available with insurance assistance or through an employer when justifying the response. “You never know when you might need to go to a specialist or to the ER and both of those get expensive quickly without insurance.” A respondent echoed, “Once I am too old for my parents’ health insurance, affording my own health insurance would be impossible with my pre-existing conditions.”
Healthcare wasn’t the only high scorer. In the response section, Family Leave and Vacation Leave were often listed right along with Healthcare as being of high importance. Many participants stated that, while physical body health is important, so, too, is a relaxed mind and a connection to loved ones. One millennial said, “Healthcare and paid leave tie [for first]. Life isn’t just work.” Another agreed that “both [healthcare and paid leave] are important simply because they relate to my well-being both physically and emotionally and affect my overall performance as an employee.” In terms of Family Leave, a respondent cited the unfairness of having to choose between a career and a family. “A lot of women have to quit their jobs because maternity leave isn’t enough nor does it give them enough time for recovery or developing a relationship with the newborn child.”
Good to Have, but Not Top Priority
Conversely, Wellness Programs had the most participants list it as being “not important” on the benefits list, with 28% of participants identifying it as “not important.” This benefit was followed by Life Insurance and Vision, with 19% and 18%, respectively. Here is a full breakdown of the survey results for the benefits rated as “not important”:
‘Not Important’ Benefits
- Wellness Programs: 28%
- Life Insurance: 19%
- Vision: 18%
- Family Leave: 8%(tie for fourth)
- Retirement Benefits: 8% (tie for fourth)
- Tuition Reimbursement: 8% (tie for fourth)
- Vacation: 4%
- Dental: 4%
- Disability: 4%
- Healthcare: 1%
While participants stated that having gym membership discounts and exercise programs were nice, they believe they’ll be fine without it. “It’d be great, and I do enjoy the gym. But, I don’t necessarily expect my job to provide that for me,” said one respondent. Another participant cut right to the chase: “There are more important things I need before gym membership discounts and exercise programs.”
Conversely, only 1% of those participants surveyed said that Healthcare was ‘not important’ to have in their employee benefits package.
Some responses that were not shared by the majority of participants included benefits that were viewed as ‘very important’ for personal reasons. Vision was ranked high on ‘not important’, but that sentiment wasn’t the case for all who were surveyed. A handful of respondents said that Vision was their most important benefit solely because they “need their glasses to see, of course.” Disability was indicated as being ‘very important’ by some, and specifically by those who identified themselves as having pre-existing health conditions, which could put them at risk for missing work for extended periods of time. “Those with long term and/or permanent ailments require some substantial reimbursement if they cannot work in order to continue living comfortably. This [benefit] is important in a world where the disabled are often oppressed or ignored due to their inability to participate in the workplace.”
So, while some of these benefits weren’t ranked as ‘very important’ by the majority, it’s advisable to take those with long-term ailments into account when developing your employee benefits strategy.
What Does This Information Mean for Your Employee Benefits Package?
Are you still wondering if your employee benefits package needs fancy bells and whistles in order to attract the millennials of today’s workforce? Well, according to these respondents, the answer is: not necessarily. More than anything, millennials want basic benefits such as Healthcare, Vacation Leave, and Family Leave, which to them means having good health, relaxation time, and quality family time. Sure, having spaces in the office to nap or exercise are cool to have. However, millennials ultimately just want to know that their employer will take care of them. As one respondent stated, “I don’t need much extra. I just like knowing that I’m safe. When that worry is gone, the rest of the benefits just fall in place!”
Survey conducted by Leigh Chesley in March 2016