As a Millennial business consultant who helps companies create people-first company cultures, one of the most frequent questions I’m seeing pop up among employers during the pandemic’s
labor shortages is: “What perks can my company offer to attract and retain top Millennial talent?”
Then, they’re inevitably disappointed when I tell them that perks like nap pods, snack rooms, free avocado toast, or whatever else will never make up for a thrive-able wage, good benefits, vacation time, and the ability to learn and grow with a company.
But while executives are disappointed by that advice, thousands of Millennials on TikTok have been shouting from the rooftops that they finally feel heard when I covered these points in a three-minute video. I believe the cause for confusion is a general misunderstanding between Baby Boomer executives and the Millennial workforce.
First of all, Millennials are currently in their late 20s to late 30s, which means these are experienced workers likely at the point in their careers where they’re looking for stimulating management jobs that also leave adequate time to spend with a growing family, friends, pets, or aging parents.
These are not entry-level applicants. As a generation, Millennials tend to be highly educated and qualified. However, because they started their careers right around the 2008 recession (or attempted to), they either took a massive hit to their salaries, were forced to take internships instead of full-time work, or enroll in graduate school programs to live off financial aid and hope they would be
more employable with an advanced degree. (In reality, this created a graduate degree glut in the marketplace, but that’s another story for another time.)
Millennials are still dealing with those ramifications now. Taking pay cuts often affects a person for their entire working career. And even while companies rebounded, they continued to offer lower wages, blaming the impact of the recession decades after the market rebounded.
Now add student loan payments to the tune of $1,000 per month, rent that’s still too high, an unaffordable housing market, and a couple of kids, and you have a forgotten generation of workers on your hands. It’s taken the cultural shift of the pandemic allowing for more remote work that has given Millennials the luxury of pickiness.
So, how do you attract top Millennial talent? And how do you get them to stay? That’s easy:
Pay them well above minimum wage with at least a 5% raise every year to accommodate for increased cost of living with clear, definable goals that give the opportunity for meritorious raises.
Benefits that cover mental health (Millennials are increasingly at risk for suicide because career burnout and money stress) and infertility treatment (Millennials have the lowest birth rate in generations because of chronic burnout stress and the negative impacts on
their careers, leading to delays in having children.)
Paid Time Off
A minimum of four weeks vacation time (legally mandated minimum in most developed nations) so they don’t need to choose between seeing their families at Christmas or taking a summer vacation. Sick leave that includes openness around the need for mental health days. Plus, paid parental leave that reflects a home where both parents work full-time and don’t receive any homemaking support.
Learning and Development
Opportunities to hone existing skills, learn new skills, receive certifications, internally transfer departments or take on new roles, mentorship, and anything else that provides ongoing challenges and engagement. Oh, and let them do it during company time
instead of using their paid leave.
If an employer can’t provide these options, no number of nap pods or bottomless snacks will make up for it. Plus, a nap pod costs between $8,000 to $12,000, which would go much farther
on a salary retaining a talented Millennial than giving them an afternoon nap.