There is a lot of confusion out there about what the young workforce — also known by that inescapable term, “millennials” — is looking for in a job today. Perhaps it’s the age-old story of older generations not understanding their younger counterparts, but I’ve been coming across more and more hiring managers and C-level executives who are struggling to attract the top young talent with traditional job offerings.
Of course, part of this is due to the explosion of the start-up scene, and the proliferation of perks that has accompanied it. Tech companies have offered unique benefits for decades, but never on the scale like the past 5-10 years. And as perks become more commonplace, companies are realizing that salary can no longer be the only focus of an employment offer.
So what are these benefits? Here are a few we see most frequently:
- Time off. Work/life balance is huge, and the old standard of two weeks PTO just won’t cut it for many young workers. We have one client that promotes “unlimited PTO” as long as you are hitting target deadlines — if you’re on top of all your projects, go ahead to that Cubs’ game!
- Flex Hours In addition to PTO, we’re also seeing things like “summer Fridays” become more important. (Particularly in Chicago, where we can’t take good weather for granted!) Another extreme example we’ve seen is from one company that has partnered with us that allows commute time on a train as part of their paid work-day. Have a laptop? You can continue working.
- Career development. This focus on flexible hours doesn’t mean millennials are short-sighted though — in fact, it’s the opposite. Many are very cognizant of their long-term career path. The title change of a promotion to them is important, even if it doesn’t come with a monetary raise — they like to see that they are progressing and maybe more importantly, that everybody else sees it as well.
- Mentorship. On a similar note, candidates will also look specifically at who their potential mentors will be in a role. If they know they’ll be working with someone who will teach them the ropes and help them grow their skills, the position becomes much more appealing.
- Benefits/Health Insurance. Salary is still important, but it’s now seen through the wider lens of “compensation.” Again, these candidates are smart — they know that things like health insurance and 401ks can affect their bank accounts just as much as salaries. Pet insurance, FSA for daycare, allowance for smartphones and even cheaper or free gym memberships are being offered by companies to maintain their status as an employer of choice.
- Company philanthropy. People want to work for “good” companies, and that’s not necessarily down to the actual goods or services you produce. More companies these days are donating time and resources to causes both big and small, and they offer employees the opportunity to volunteer in the community together. (As a bonus, that’s great for team-building!)
There are numerous other potential perks out there, and not every single one will make sense for your company to offer. But it is crucial, now more than ever, to make sure you’re thinking about the big picture when putting together job offers.
Want to talk more about how to recruit today’s young top talent? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow OP on Twitter.
Jim Glab is Director of Recruiting at Objective Paradigm (OP), a Chicago-based recruiting firm specializing in the finance, trading, and tech industries.