Which Benefits Appeal Most to Millennial Employees?

Posted on: February 12, 2024

Born between 1981 and 1996, millennials (also sometimes called Gen Y) are the fastest-growing1 and largest2 generation in the workforce. Let’s take a closer look at this generation.

Who are Millennials?

  1. They want opportunities to advance at work.

    They expect to have accurate training, skill development programs, effective mentoring, and professional development opportunities. Millennials want feedback that will help them be more productive so that they can advance.3 They want clear pathways for their career, and they’re not afraid to leave an employer for another that offers better long-term opportunities.

  2. They value work-life balance.

    Many in this generation have significant others or have married, they’re having children, and they don’t want their work life to dictate what their personal life can look like. While they’re driven to succeed and advance, millennials value flexible work options and remote work options that enhance their ability to balance work with life’s demands. Despite wanting work-life balance from a job, about a quarter of millennials work two or more jobs.4

  3. They want to feel personally valued and engaged.

    Millennials feel most actively engaged when their organization encourages an inclusive culture. A Deloitte study of millennials found that they view inclusion as having a culture of connectedness that facilitates teaming, collaboration, and professional growth. Unlike non-millennials who are more likely to define diversity by focusing on representation and fairness of opportunity, millennials are 35% more likely to focus on unique experiences of individuals.

  4. They need support with their overall health and wellness.

    Unlike Gen Z, millennials are no longer on their parents’ health plans. They care greatly about their overall health and wellness, and seek out programs that help support work-life balance and their physical, mental, and emotional health. Millennials tend to have higher rates of depression than other generations, and those who can afford to are more likely to go to therapy than other generations.5 While their long-term financial future is a grave concern, many in this generation struggle with financial literacy concepts such as budgeting, financial planning, and managing student loan and other debt.6

  5. They want to make a difference.

    A company’s mission matters to millennials, who may choose a company based on feeling rooted to its purpose. They care about preserving the environment and want to know they can make a positive difference in the world. Many millennials—particularly women—prioritize being part of an organization with a mission they care about over money.7

Which benefits appeal most to millennials?

Even before the pandemic, it was well known that millennials prioritized benefits more than other generations.8 Benefits show a commitment on the organization’s part to addressing the needs of employees, and this is appealing to millennials’ need to feel personally valued and supported. Many of them entered the workforce before, during, or after the Great Recession, making it difficult to find or keep a job or gain experience in their field. The pandemic and its economic fallout further disrupted the careers and security of millennials who had a rocky start. These events and challenges have shaped the experiences of today’s millennials.

Besides competitive pay and ample time off to address their prioritized need for work-life balance, here are key benefits most valued by millennials:

  1. Flexible Work Arrangements.

    Their emphasis on work-life balance means flexible work arrangements is a top priority for millennials. Juggling kids, caring for aging parents, and managing second jobs or side gigs is much easier with flex hour options. While many millennials value the opportunity to work remotely on a full-time basis, others may appreciate the option to work from home at least part-time or when needed to accommodate life situations.

  2. Student Loan Assistance.

    Millennials also shoulder 47% of the nation’s outstanding student loan debt, with an average outstanding student loan balance of $42,600 in 2023.9 Managing debt is an identified major financial stressor for millennials. To gain a competitive edge by appealing to millennials and other employees with student loan debt, more employers have started offering student loan assistance plans in recent years. These plans may have employers making student loan payments for employees. Other plans may recognize employees’ student loan payments as qualifying contributions to a 401(k) plan for employer matching purposes. Legislation such as SECURE Act 2.0 supports helping employees in saving for retirement by making it easier and more advantageous for employers to set up these plans.

  3. Professional Development Opportunities.

    A Gallup report found 87% of millennials said job development was important, and 59% indicated career growth was a key factor in their job search. Effective employee coaching and employee development plans, mentorship programs, training opportunities, and tuition reimbursement for millennials who can ill afford to pay for additional education are highly coveted benefits that can give employers an edge. More employers are also partnering with educational institutions, offering programming to develop their employees for future career paths with no upfront costs required.

  4. Health and Wellness Initiatives.

    Busy millennials require comprehensive health insurance with accessible options such as telehealth. They’re also more inclined to choose companies that offer benefits with a strong focus on wellness as perks to cover stress management, smoking cessation, weight loss, gym fees, nutritional assistance, generous maternity/paternity leave, fertility treatment, and mental health support.3

  5. Financial Assistance.

    Millennials struggle with more than just paying off their student loan debt when it comes to managing their finances. This generation appreciates employers who offer strong financial benefits such as:

    • 401(k) with employer match.
    • Employee stock options.
    • Financial planning sessions to help with debt reduction, asset management, saving, and budgeting.
    • Employee discount programs.3

Here’s a helpful resource for employers.

One useful resource that provides key takeaways for employers in understanding millennial and Gen Z employees is Deloitte’s annual survey of the two generations. This 2023 Gen Z and Millennial Survey compiled results from their 2023 survey and compared them to their pre-pandemic survey to explore how this generation is navigating challenges—and how employers are doing in creating an environment that is supportive and nurturing to their needs.

Learn how our team can help.

Reach out to us today. Our expert team at BenefitEd would love to assist you with setting up education benefits to support your millennial employees. Keep an eye out for Part 3 of our series, which will explore Gen X and the benefits that matter most to these employees.