In order for businesses to get the best out of Millennials in the workplace, they need to understand the unique set of circumstances they have grown up in which has shaped their attitude today.
Millennials, born between 1981-1995, will represent 35% of the workforce by 2020 and they have plenty to offer employers. However, The Health Insurance Group warns that if employers fail to acknowledge what drives Millennials, and accommodate their needs, they risk losing out on one of the largest talent pools in the workforce.
Millennials face unique fiscal challenges; so much so that 64% of calls made to debt management charity StepChange are from people under the age of 40. They are set to be the first generation less affluent than their parents, less likely to own a home in comparison to those born only five to ten years earlier and have experienced the tripling of university fees. So employers that offer financial benefits to help them better manage their current monetary situation, such as financial education and cash plans that provide discounts for everyday medical needs, can be of great value to Millennials.
Social media and technology
Millennial singer Sam Smith recently highlighted body shaming and lack of repercussions for trolling as a huge issue for his generation, in a recent interview with ‘I Weigh’ founder Jameela Jamil. The love/hate relationship Millennials have with social media is something employers need to navigate carefully. On the one hand it enables them to feel better connected to others (and as a notoriously sociable demographic, it’s something they deeply value) and on the other hand it has given rise to instant abuse and bullying. It can also be the source of trouble, with over-reliance on mobile phones and the ‘always on’ culture taking its toll on mental health.
Similarly, technology can improve lives – with mental health wellbeing apps helping to alleviate anxieties, for example – so employers need to offer technology solutions to engage millennials, but also know the warning signs and provide help if it takes a darker turn.
While some in this generation are super health-conscious, Millennials are also on track to be the most obese generation yet. Employers are in a perfect position to help this tech-savvy generation maintain their health more effectively, such as by linking health initiatives to their smart watches and phones – enabling them to track their lifestyle and choices. Offering discounted gym membership through employee benefits, or staff exercise classes, helping them to stay fit whilst technology tracks their progress. Providing the time and tools needed to help Millennials stay on top of their health goes a long way with engagement.
Research finds that Millennial loyalty to businesses is low, citing inflexibility and focus on profit over social causes as key drivers to only staying in role a few years. The trend appears to be felt by their younger counterparts in Generation Z too. It’s this set of circumstances that has also been part of the reason for driving the gig economy, providing flexible working and meaningful roles to Millennials that haven’t found this with larger employers. But the gig economy also has negatives, such as blurring of work-life boundaries and driving down costs of work through increased competition. So businesses that offer flexible working, a strong CSR policy, allowing staff to factor in time for maintaining their health, could be just the solution Millennials are looking for.
Brett Hill, managing director at The Health Insurance Group, comments: “Employers need to realise the complexity of each different generation in the workplace, in order to get the best out of them. Millennials represent a significant section of the workforce, so it’s important that businesses take time to consider how to attract and retain them. While a one-size-fits-all approach mustn’t be taken when it comes to looking at age demographics in the workplace, understanding the context in which an employee has grown up in can provide valuable insights into what drives and motivates them. And that can mean the difference between employee benefits really being valued, and of value to the company, or not.”