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6 Things Millennials Value More Than a Big Paycheck

6 Things Millennials Value More Than a Big Paycheck
Perks That Attract Millennials to Your SMB / Credit: Pablo Calvog/Shutterstock

Compensation matters when it comes to employee loyalty and satisfaction, but money isn't everything. When employees decide to join and stick with a company, it's often because they feel valued. Businesses can show how much they value an employee through salary, paid time off, benefits packages and more. Recent research on millennials shows that it takes more than a hefty paycheck to win their attention.

According to a study conducted Qualtrics, millennials place both stability and job satisfaction ahead of salary when selecting the most important aspect of work. The difference between emotional and financial happiness in the study is slim, and salary does play a critical role in employee retention, but there's more to attracting millennials to your company than money. For small businesses with smaller budgets than larger firms, these statistics provide a glimmer of hope. It's about offering the right environment.

A 2016 study shared that millennials prefer to work for companies that give back to charity more than previous generations. Giving employees a chance to help the local community fosters a sense of meaning and happiness. Showing that you care more about than just earning money makes millennials more willing to support your company.

"Younger workers enjoy giving back," said Jamie Van Cuyk, a small business consultant. "Allowing them a paid day off to serve a charity of their choice shows that companies also support a charitable value. When a volunteer day is not an option, a donation [matched] up to a set value is another great perk."

Allowing employees to give back isn't expensive or a major time commitment, but it can make a tremendous difference in the lives of your employees and those in the local community. Taking a work day to volunteer is also a great way to break your team's routine and add excitement to a standard workweek.

Nobody likes sitting in traffic or driving an hour both ways to work. Show your employees you value their time by helping them reduce their commute, or even providing commuter benefits like gas discounts. When trying to attract millennials, or any employees for that matter, it's important to care about their time and take initiative to help them make better use of their time.

"I currently work from home three days a week, and I love it," said Christina Warner, a millennial and associate marketing manager at Walgreens Boots Alliance. "I love going to the office for those two days, and meeting my team and connecting with my colleagues. I also love working from home, where I feel there are less distractions, and I have my home office to focus."

By offering the option of working at home a few days per week, Warner avoids a long commute for most of the week while still making her way into the office a couple times each week to maintain a face-to-face relationship with her co-workers. It's not perfect for every business, but if remote work is an option for your team, it may help attract millennials. At the very least, offering commuter benefits is a good start.   

While Warner works remotely three days a week and in an office for the two other days, you may consider offering some fully remote positions to attract millennials. By being creative with work schedules, you show a respect for employees and their time.

"Another perk that is increasingly popular is the guarantee of flexibility," said Jon Brodsky, country manager at finder.com. "While some millennials are happy with a traditional 9-to-5, working onsite job structure, a growing number are seeking opportunities that provide flexibility in hours and/or location. These millennials want the opportunity to spend time with family or friends, study new skills, explore a side hustle or entertain a new hobby; things that may be restricted within a more standard working structure."

Your business may offer millennials the chance to work from home whenever they want or leave the office early in the afternoon if they log back on and work a few hours once they return home. It's easy to get creative with scheduling. Allowing employees to leave early for doctor appointments or to pick their kids up from school shows that you genuinely care about them as people outside of the office environment.

If remote work isn't an option, consider your office's look. A recent survey suggests that office design matters to millennials more than previous generations. The survey found that "76 percent of millennials, ages 18 to 34, feel somewhat or very strongly that that office design and aesthetic influences their impression of a company, while only 39 percent of employees ages 55-plus care about what their office looks like."

Having a well-designed office doesn't make up for a low salary or treating employees poorly, but if a prospective employee's decision comes down to similar companies, office design may play a factor in their ultimate decision, assuming they've visited the offices for an interview.

This tip can be especially useful for smaller businesses. Creating a welcoming office environment that focuses on the closeness of your team might be a factor in convincing a millennial to work for you instead of a larger company, where they might feel like one fish in a massive pond. If an employee is going to spend 40 or more hours per week at the office, the look and design of that space can affect their mood.

For small businesses that can't compete with the salary offerings of larger firms, it's critical to create a fantastic office vibe. This includes the actual layout of the office as well as the relationships between office members. If workers feel comfortable being themselves and are happy to work with their colleagues, it makes hiring and retaining employees much easier.

"Work-life integration is important," said Kyle Paterson, director of business development and culture at Bryson and Associates Insurance Brokers. "We have found that millennials enjoy bringing their personal interests to the office. We can often channel these into bettering our work environment overall. For example, an employee interested in meditation can be empowered to develop their skill by conducting short visual meditations at work."

Allowing members of your staff to express their interests and share their personality with colleagues helps create an office dynamic that's enticing to millennials. You may find that several employees share similar interests, which can help spark office friendships and a better overall team dynamic.

Taking an interest in the development and growth of your employees can make prospective hires more excited about your company. Mentorship programs can be a great selling point for a company looking to attract talent, as millennials want to improve and gain valuable skills, even if they lack the experience of their older colleagues. If your business wants to attract millennials, it doesn't hurt to consider implementing professional development programs.

"As a small business owner and employee retention strategist, I see how important it is to offer opportunities for advancement to younger workers," said Cara Silletto, president and chief retention officer at Crescendo Strategies. "This can be a range of perks – anything from a company paying for an employee's new certification, giving younger workers access to conferences or increasing opportunities for networking both inside and outside the company."

There's not one right way to attract millennials to your company. Each individual has different needs and desires, and a perk that might hold tremendous meaning to one prospective employee might be irrelevant to another. You shouldn't rush to redesign your entire office because you think it'll make millennials want to work for you, but the six tips above are a useful starting point when thinking creatively about how to attract millennials to your business.

Bennett Conlin

Bennett is an editorial assistant based in New York City. He graduated from James Madison University in 2018 with a degree in business management. During his time in Harrisonburg he worked extensively with The Breeze, JMU’s student-run newspaper. Bennett also worked at the Shenandoah Valley SBDC, where he helped small businesses with a variety of needs ranging from social media marketing to business plan writing. Contact him through email or Twitter.