Retention strategies: Benefits that help retain millennial talent

Posted October 31, 2017 by


Whether you add flashy perks to your benefits package, don’t forget that what millennials care about first (and really anyone, for that matter), is earning a competitive and fair wage, and job security. If your retention strategies don’t acknowledge that, this article may not be for you. As College Recruiter founder and president Steven Rothberg states, “compensation and job security are more important right now because both have been declining and young adults face far higher costs of living due, in large part, to exponentially higher student loan debt.” If you do offer a competitive salary and job security, then we here offer three employee benefits that can help retain your millennial talent.

Benefit #1: A truly flexible work environment

Let your employees work flexible hours to retain themOffering a flexible workplace eases the pressure on your employees to clock all their hours during a Monday through Friday, 9-5 week, or necessarily at the office. By now, we are all familiar with telecommuting, be that from home on the couch or at a favorite coffee shop. For flexibility to be a true perk, however, that is continually attractive to employees and helps drive business forward, it goes beyond telecommuting.

Offering true flexibility means that you will be understanding when an employee wants to leave the office midday to hit the gym, pick up a sick child from school, get a haircut, etc. It implies you trust her to make up any lost hours within the pay period.

The key words are “understanding” and “trust.”

If you allow your employee take off in the middle of the day, but she finds out later that her project moved forward without her input, you’re not really being understanding or flexible.

For a truly flexible work environment to be a successful component of your retention strategies, here are two things to think through:

  • First, think through the best mode of communication to keep work flowing. That is, choose to deliberately communicate clearly with telecommuting employees. Litmus, a testing and analytics company for digital marketers and designers, has a 100% remote working environment (OpenWork blog). “Because remote-first is a mindset, Litmus employees communicate purposefully in specific tools — Google docs for copy, Basecamp for status updates, file sharing in Dropbox, and day-to-day chats in Slack.”
  • Second, think through your employees’ individual preferences, as well as real work outcomes. Someone may self-report higher productivity when they work uninterrupted from their home environment, but have you thought through what might be lost when they work in isolation? For example, an employee might burn through the task at hand more quickly from home, but has he also lost the collaboration needed for better decision making? Thus the importance of deliberately communicating often and well with telecommuters.

The key in finding the balance between individual preferences and work outcomes is being transparent. When you focus on the organizational goals and values, tying each individual to where they fit in the larger whole, they are more likely to respond well.

Benefit #2: Assist millennials in actually saving more for retirement

Retain millennials by helping them really save for retirementOffering a retirement plan is a basic and common benefit, but the key to remember while you read the following advice is that employers can do more to hold millennials’ hands. You can make sure they do actually save all they can for retirement. Your entry-level employees will appreciate you helping them to understand their options and ensuring that they are creating a foundation for a successful future.

Joe DeSilva of ADP offers these tips for employers looking to provide a solid retirement plan as a recruiting and retention tool for recent college grads and entry-level job seekers:

  • Use effective plan design: Integrate plan features like automatic enrollment, automatic deferral increases and target-date funds into their plan. These approaches are effective at getting employees to save early, save more and invest appropriately based on their projected retirement date.
  • Add an employer contribution: A matching contribution gives participant accounts an incentive to start investing and also a nice bump in savings. Employees remember and appreciate this benefit – plus, employer contributions can be deducted as a business expense.
  • Be aware of plan fees: Over time, plan and investment fees can have a big impact on participant account balances. Keep fees in check to help participants keep more of their savings.
  • Optimize the plan investment menu: Optimize the plan investment menu to help make investing decisions easier, reduce mistakes and get better investing outcomes for participants. Be sure the investment menu offers adequate opportunity for diversification, best possible performance and cost arrangements, and monitor investments to ensure they meet plan and performance requirements.
  • Promote the plan and communicate regularly: Communications that help participants track their progress, stay engaged and get answers will help them prepare for retirement and demonstrate the value that a plan can deliver.

Benefit #3: A better family leave plan 

Improve family leave plan to retain millennialsThis may not be an obvious part of your millennial retention strategies if your entry-level employees don’t seem interested in having families yet. However, especially because you want to retain them for years to come, be assured that making time for family is critical to this generation. As an employer, you can make this benefit more salient, so they understand how good they have it with you.

The following is according to the 2016 SHRM report “Paid Leave in the Workplace:”

  • On average, female employees were awarded 41 days of paid maternity, while new fathers were given 22 days of paid paternity leave per year.
  • Employees were awarded roughly one month for paid adoption leave (31 days) and paid surrogacy leave (36 days).
  • Generally, the majority of employees exhausted all of the parental leave awarded to them. On average, organizations noted roughly two days of unused maternity leave and paternity leave, whereas even fewer unused hours of adoption and surrogacy leave were reported.
  • On average, employees were able to take paid sabbatical leave after six years with their employer, while eligibility to partake in the unpaid sabbatical benefit was fulfilled after two years.
  • Generally, organizations awarded 132 paid days for a paid sabbatical program, whereas they typically awarded 116 days for unpaid sabbatical programs.
  • Nonprofit and government organizations are more likely than privately owned for-profit organizations to allow more days for paid sabbatical programs to full-time employees.

Where does your organization fall compared to the average? And what would it cost to offer additional days of leave? Millennials who approach their decision to have a family will definitely take this benefit into account as they compare options.

In addition, employers often underestimate, to the detriment of their female employees, the difficulty of their transition back into the workplace. Your organization could stand out against others by offering to help moms deal with the physical and emotional stresses of going back to work after having a baby. For example, OpenWork talked to companies that offer “mentor moms”, postnatal counseling, travel kits for breastfeeding moms, breastmilk delivery back to baby while mom is traveling, a nanny service for parents on business trips, and on-site daycare.

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