Leading HR directors have warned the profession to rethink policies for recruiting and retaining younger workers - after research revealed that under-28s are mainly interested in cash.
So-called Generation Y employees - mainly those born in the 1980s - are traditionally thought to care less about pay, and more about flexible working, travel opportunities and corporate social responsibility.
But the exclusive Personnel Today study of 265 Gen Y-ers found they were far more focused on salary, bonuses and annual leave than other work benefits.
When asked what they thought the most important employee benefit would be for them in five to 10 years' time, more than two-thirds of Gen Y-ers said pay.
An overwhelming 85% said they would most like their employer to offer cash as a performance incentive, with other benefit options such as gift vouchers and travel experiences barely registering on their radar.
Just one in five Gen Y-ers said that having a pension was 'very important' to them in a job.
Alan Warner, director of people and property at Hertfordshire County Council, said the findings sent "warning signals" to employers about their current benefit packages.
"In the current climate, the prominence of money is not surprising," he said. "Trying to get decent accommodation at a reasonable price is a challenge, with young professionals being unable to access a mortgage because their student debt has been factored in to the calculations."
David Fairhurst, chief people officer at McDonald's, said Gen Y's expectation of employers was different to that of previous generations.
"Employers think young people are cocky, confident and questioning, but the reality is they are the most needy generation of all," he said. "Employers think they need less support, but in fact they need treble."
The research was conducted by market research organisation Ipsos Mori, and is sponsored by voucher provider Love2reward.