Benefits that keep millennial and Gen Z employees happy and healthy

The greatest drivers of the Great Resignation want more than 401(k) plans and healthcare

By Kathie Harris      
Benefits that keep millennial and Gen Z employees happy and healthy

Employers with a large millennial and Generation Z employee population can support better retention and recruitment by focusing on the most sought-after benefits by those under 40.

Tanya Little, chief growth officer at Vitality

Tanya Little, chief growth officer at tech-driven wellness provider Vitality, says that while employers are focused on safety and pay, the members of the Gen Z and millennial generations are looking for more.

Autonomy, corporate social responsibility and personal connections are leading desires that impact employee loyalty and candidate interest. These cultural touchstones show up in everything from office structure to mental health benefits. These two generations want to feel like they have a voice at work, that their organization cares about its impact on the world and that their employer cares about them.

Benefits that hit the mark include:

  • Robust mental health benefits.
  • Financial coaching for better budgeting.
  • Options for volunteering or engaging with preferred social issues, such as an ERG.
  • Affordable healthcare.
  • Flexible work hours.
  • Job-sharing.
  • Opportunities for social connections with co-workers.
  • Flex pay or earned wage access.
Jesse Gavin, wellness program director at Baylor College of Medicine

Baylor College of Medicine wellness program director Jesse Gavin says keeping things fresh is essential to retaining the younger generations. The school employs around 11,000 people, and of these, 36% fall into the Gen Z or millennial category.

Gavin says adding gamification to the school’s wellness app, refreshing the challenges in its physical fitness program and offering robust mental health options have proved popular.

“From a value perspective, we know that the resources we offer help us stand out above the rest as a best place to work,” Gavin says, speaking about the resources that earned the college a third-place ranking as a 2021 Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America award from Healthiest Employers.

Baylor aims to make work fun, with outdoor spaces for employees to throw a frisbee or occasionally bringing shelter dogs into the office. It supports job-sharing, where younger employees interested in trying something new work with co-workers on projects outside their department. Baylor holds wellness fairs and offers theme-related giveaways. It also uses coaching in its “BCM BeWell” wellness program.

Employers should look for ways to create a sense of choice and autonomy, from remote work options to customizable wellness plans. They also should consider how they market their offerings for better understanding and engagement.

“They need a focus strategy around this particular segment of the workforce, and it will look different than the rest of the workforce,” Little says. “When we think specifically about benefits, what we know is younger generations are used to consumer-grade experience. When they go and find employee benefits, they don’t find easy, seamless, relevant options.”

Gavin says Baylor focuses on how they present benefits when marketing to the Gen Z and millennial employee population, based on their short-term focus.

“We present those things that matter to people on a day-to-day basis, as opposed to long term for this generation,” says Gavin.

According to a March Gallup poll, millennials and Generation Z employees make up 46% of the full-time workforce. In October, LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky told TIME Magazine that what he deemed the “Great Reshuffle” is being driven largely by the two youngest generations in the workforce. They reported higher job changes than other generations.

“When you look at Gen Z specifically, that number’s up 80% year over year, when you look at millennials that number is up 50% year over year, when you look at Gen X, that number’s up 31% year over year,” Roslansky said. “When you look at boomers that number’s only up 5% year over year.”