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How the right benefits can help attract and retain millennial leaders

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Ping pong tables, pantries full of snacks and Yoga classes. These are just a few of the hot new perks that companies are offering to attract and retain Gen Y employees (ages 18-34), also known as millennials. Tech companies are leading the way with either lavish or unique perks.

But how much do such incentives really matter?

As the benefits and insurance industries strive to increase the number of millennials within their ranks, it’s good to keep perks in mind. Let’s recognize what they are – extras.

While perks are fun, companies need to provide the foundational pieces of a great career first. Because millennials want what we all want – a job that has a clear career path, with a competitive salary and benefits.

So how do companies retain them?

Most millennials want employers to offer flexible work schedules, merit-based salary increases every six months, and insurance benefits, according to The Hartford’s 2014 Millennial Leadership Survey.

The companies that offer lavish perks are usually those employers that also provide the basics that all employees want. Disability insurance, for example, is an oldie but goodie benefit.

Talk with your employer clients about the need to provide their youngest employees with benefits, such as disability and accident insurance, to protect millennials’ current and future leadership potential.

Offering benefits is not enough

It also involves an education process of helping young people understand why they need to protect their career from being derailed by a disabling injury or illness. Tell a millennial that you’re giving them free coffee or a concierge service, and they will immediately understand those perks.

Tell a millennial that you’re providing disability insurance, and less than half will understand how the benefit can help protect their paycheck and keep them on track to their personal and professional goals. That means planning to communicate the value of this benefit. 

google pool

A small swimming pool is available for employees at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio José Sánchez)

Here are some tips for a communications plan:

  • Go digital: Millennials are digital natives. They look for tools and information online, including educational videos and real-person testimonials.

  • Be real: Talk about the top reasons why young people are unable to work and on a disability claim, such as pregnancy, accidental injuries, and depression.

  • Ask your millennials for help in promoting this benefit: For example, would they re-name it? One idea for the new name is “experience insurance,” the benefit that helps them experience life to the fullest and provide income if they have an unexpected illness or off-the-job injury that keeps them from working.

  • Empower your team: Share tips on how benefits can help employees better manage their money and life, as well as protect their leadership potential.

  • Talk about benefits all year long: During enrollment period, some benefits, such as disability insurance, can get lost in the shuffle.

You can look to your insurance carrier for a communications plan that is tailored to your team’s individual needs.

It’s important to talk about employing millennials, as well as protecting their leadership potential because they are making up a greater percentage of the workforce and stepping up as business leaders.

This year, I’m talking to employers and brokers about the countdown to 2020 – the year that millennials are projected to be 50 percent of the U.S. workforce. In some instances, millennials have already reached that tipping point. A recent Google study found nearly half of business-to-business researchers are millennials.

I recommend companies have a 2020 Millennial Action Plan (2020MAP) that maps out the company’s strategies to engage millennials as employees and business partners.

Definitely keep perks in mind for the section of your 2020MAP about goals and strategies for hiring and retaining millennials. But, don’t forget the tried-and-true benefits that protect your investment in the future.

See also:

Rethinking the client communication arms race

Engage employees to make smarter benefit decisions

Complicated young adults: How do you get them covered?