In 2015, Pew Research Center reported that millennials – people born from the early 1980s to late 1990s – officially exceeded Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce. It's only logical that employers have changed their recruiting approaches and benefits to accommodate the preferences of this ever-growing generational group.
But the cliche "millennial magnet" perks – beers in the breakroom, ping-pong tables in the lobby and free snacks – aren't always the most effective. Here are the perks and benefits that really matter to millennials, and how you can market them to attract talent from this generation. [Managing millennials? Here are a few tips for success as a modern leader.]
Despite millennials' reputation for job-hopping, what they're really looking for is long-term stability.
In an article on Fit Small Business, Dawn Leijon, executive in residence at Kogod School of Business at American University, said that because millennials grew up in unstable financial times, they won't commit to an employer that doesn't commit to them.
"The millennials we surveyed want a 401(k) plan with employer-matched funds, subsidized health insurance, telecommuting options and a paid two-month sabbatical after five years of employment," she wrote.
Student loan assistance
Most millennials pay a lot toward student loan debt each month. According to Student Loan Hero, borrowers between the ages of 20 and 30 pay an average of $351 per month toward student loans – which is more than some car payments.
Offering student loan assistance options create an even more stable life for employees.
"Employers may select a monthly amount – typically between $100 and $200 – that they will agree to pay toward the student loans each month for employees who have completed their education. These amounts are paid directly to the financial institution that holds the loan," said Matt Goines, account executive on Assurance's employee benefits team.
Support and opportunities for advancement
Younger millennials just starting their careers are looking for ways to grow and gain valuable skills. They are searching for companies that offer opportunities for advancements. Companies that don't offer any upward mobility often experience high employee turnover.
"Let millennials know that there are opportunities for growth within the company and give them work that challenges and engages," said Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation. "Recognize their accomplishments and promote from within by allowing them to transfer to another department based on their skill set.”
One way to do this is to set up a mentorship program, which builds not only support but also loyalty. According to The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, millennials who intend to stay with their organization for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68 percent) than not (32 percent).
"It's not only important to millennials to have a pathway to success but to also have a supporter in the process," said Alissa Carpenter, career coach and employee development facilitator. "This generation is looking for a coaching and mentoring supervisor who provides constructive feedback on a continual basis and helps them to grow professionally."
Good work-life balance
Most people want to have a great work-life balance, but this is especially true for millennials. According to a Payscale article, 34 percent of the millennials surveyed noted they have quit a job because it wasn't flexible, so companies that want to attract millennials should give employees flexibility when and where they work.
"Millennials have grown up with more technological advances, making them more comfortable than their older peers in communicating on their mobile phones, taking video calls over Skype or Hangouts," said Morgan Chaney, head of marketing at Blueboard. "A flexible workplace is not only less intimidating to millennials, but also enables them to indulge in their adventurous side."
Millennials "seek out positions with companies that offer flexible scheduling and environments that allows for collaboration and position energy," added Sweeney. "Accommodate the schedules of millennials, and watch how much they feel appreciated and motivated to work hard.