Which Millennial/Gen-Y Perks Matter?

Photo by Jed Villejo on Unsplash

It’s fun to read about the perks of working in tech companies, like:

  • $20-75K signing bonuses to transition from an intern to a full-time role at Microsoft;
  • $10,000 to upgrade your computer hardware and peripherals from Asana;
  • or a paid, paid vacation from FullContact where they give you $7,500 to go on vacation and it’s paid time off on top of that, with unlimited PTO in general (and you have to go off the grid. No answering calls or email).

If it’s not these perks that capture the imagination of recruiters and employees everywhere, there are also trendy ideas for the workplace like ping-pong tables, proximity to affordable housing, or hot yoga break rooms. Are these good enough for young people?

Maybe we should stop for a moment and realize that younger people typically have debt coming out of school, need a place to live, and hope to save as well if there’s anything left. These are not particularly sexy things to consider, but that’s often the reality.

If you follow this line of reasoning (they’re more the same than they are different, in terms of basic needs) a survey of Reddit users may serve well here to further illuminate around the question of what benefits they care about. Young folks enjoy some or all of the following—with many of them being ageless in their appeal, and some of them being what you could call nice extras:

  • The sound of laughter at work;
  • Good treatment of employees, which can have side effects of promoting employee happiness and improving time to completion on projects;
  • Pay commensurate with what their position is worth;
  • Health, dental, and vision insurance, with at least 50% paid by the employer. Bonus points for a deductible under $1000, mental health coverage, $30 or less office visit copays, and $30 or less generic prescription copays;
  • Flexibility, i.e. the ability to set one’s own hours and/or work from home (and having the employer grant time off requests without being difficult about it);
  • Challenging work that promotes continual skills improvement; and
  • The afore-mentioned help with retirement savings via some type of employer 401k match.

Plus, this sentiment:

“You know what perk I love the most? Living in the Midwest in a non-Silicon Valley low cost-of-living area where I don’t get worked to death, can afford a nice big house, and have plenty of disposable income. With this, I can buy my own perks.”

 Instead of focusing on how young people are different, why don’t we acknowledge that they have real needs, and that perhaps if you structure your benefits from that assumption, you’ll find a recipe with which you can recruit and retain great talent even without being in a place where a youthful, startup culture is all around you.

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