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  • Jessica Moore, University of Southern Mississippi

Millennials Value Employee Benefits over Job Perks

Would you choose a job because of free beer and beanbags in the office? Actually, most millennials would not as I learned during the National Millennial Community’s recent trip to Omaha, Nebraska and Kansas City, Missouri. While the perks were fun and exciting for the day, I found most of us wanted to know more about companies’ health insurance plans and 401(k) commitments.

While speaking to several recruiters on this trip, I found out that companies are struggling to attract and retain millennials in their workforce. This issue spreads further across the nation than the Midwest. According to a recent report by Gallup, millennials are the most likely generation to switch jobs and are the least engaged in the workplace. In fact, Gallup’s study revealed that only 29 percent of millennials are emotionally connected and engaged in their jobs and companies. With little emotional ties to a company, the chances of job switching are high. With these statistics, it is no wonder companies are conducting focus groups and adding perks to their work environment to attract young people. So what are companies doing in response to the changing workforce?

Many companies are adding job perks, rather than benefits. Believe it or not, there is a difference between perks and benefits. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics defines benefits as “non-wage compensation provided to employees.” Benefits fit into five categories created by the National Compensation Survey: Paid leave, additional pay, retirement, insurance and legally required benefits.

Individual companies decide what perks to offer and they generally reflect its employee culture. For example, a company may provide free food every Friday or a game room for employees. To be clear, perks are not monetary compensation or legally required benefits.

Somewhere along the line, the misconception that millennials value perks over benefits came about. The Undercover Recruiter reported that millennials look for things that “blur the lines between work and play,” such as free snacks, community game areas, and napping stations. Further research and conversations with other young people show that this is not true. While these rewards are great, millennials are not choosing jobs because of them.

Millennials are interested in 401(k)s and retirement plans, paid maternity and paternity leave, medical insurance, and more traditional benefits. CNBC reported on LaSalle Network’s 2018 survey of 5,000 millennials, which concluded that millennials value medical coverage, matching 401(k) plans, and flexible working arrangements most when looking for a new job.

With the millennial generation moving further into the workforce, employers must consider what they value in jobs. I would bet that no millennial would turn down a game of ping pong with their coworkers or taking a nap in the office; however, a job with these perks but lacking medical coverage and retirement benefits will not retain young employees in the long-run.

So employers, create your dog-friendly office and host happy hours on Fridays, but remember that your millennial employees also want the opportunities to seek suitable medical treatment, start families and retire with a plan.

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