Innovations, Social and Economic Megatrends to understand the World of Tomorrow.

Office Perks: Millennial Expectations Change What Employers Offer

A few decades ago, when you accepted a job with an employer, you could expect to spend the rest of your career there. Good pay and health benefits ensured your loyalty. But today, as younger generations move into the workplace, businesses are finding it’s much tougher to earn employee loyalty.

For one thing, younger workers are more likely to switch employers than older workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers 25-34 years old had a median tenure of 2.8 years versus 7.9 years for employees ages 45-54.

Another difference: Millennials are less likely than older generations to say they’re highly committed to their employer, with just 40% saying they somewhat agree with this statement, according to a new survey by ReportLinker. By contrast, 66% of older workers say they’re highly committed to their organization.

87% of Americans are highly commited to the organization they work for.

Since Millennials will make up nearly half of the American workforce by 2020, there’s intense pressure on businesses to find new ways to attract and retain young talent. Employee retention is particularly important, since a stable and productive workforce has a positive impact on business outcomes.

Thus, organizations are testing several new strategies to make employees happier and encourage them to stay longer. They’re providing more opportunities for professional growth, offering a wider range of perks, and making a stronger commitment to improving work-life balance.

For example, although management structures traditionally have been hierarchical and authoritative, today’s young professionals are expressing a desire to be more involved in organizational decision making. New research from ReportLinker finds that 87% of employees who are more involved in decision-making are also more likely to say they are committed to their employers.

Employees also are more likely to stick with their employer if they are offered opportunities to take on new professional challenges. According to ReportLinker, 83% of US respondents with this kind of flexibility say they’re more likely to stay with the organization.

Not surprisingly, given their desire to be fully engaged and challenged, employees also want to work for a company that offers opportunities to be innovative and creative. Seventy-nine percent of US respondents to the ReportLinker survey say they believe their employer encourages creativity and innovation. This, in turn, makes them more loyal: 78% of these employees say they’re committed to their employer.

67% of Americans feel being part of the decisions in their company.

 

What Has Changed – and Hasn’t – With the American Work Ethic

The American work ethic isn’t a myth. Three-quarters of Americans agree with the idea that the more you work, the more successful you’ll be, ReportLinker found.

73% of Americans think the more they work, the more successful they will be.

And most Americans do put in the hours: 76% say they work more than 36 hours a week. Men are more likely to put in more hours on the job than women, with 55% saying they worked more than 40 hours a week. By contrast, women are more likely to work 36-40 hours per week in order to balance their work and family life.

The average working hours per week for Americans.

Yet, there are signs that younger workers might be less likely to see the value in putting in longer hours. After all, they watched their parents and grandparents put in long hours with extended time away from family. This may be one of the reasons they switch employers more often and why there’s more demand today for perks such as telecommuting and flexible working hours.

Not Your Parents’ Perks

Technology companies were among the first to realize traditional benefits wouldn’t be enough to retain younger workers. So they introduced ways to help employees better manage work/life balance, an idea that has slowly spread to other companies.

Facebook, for example, increased its paid family leave policy in 2015. It offers up to 20 days of paid bereavement leave and up to six weeks of paid family leave to care for a sick relative. “People should be able both to work and be there for their families,” COO Sheryl Sandberg says.

When asked which perks their employers offer, employees most frequently mention healthcare (68% of mentions), followed by paid family sick leave or for family deaths (54% of all mentions), flexible hours to balance work and personal life (47% of all mentions) and career development services (39% of all mentions), according to ReportLinker. Both healthcare and paid family leave are offered more frequently to employees who work more than 36 hours a week (76% and 61% of mentions, respectively).

Of all perks, employees are more likely to say they used healthcare (54% of mentions), followed by flexible working hours (41% of mentions), paid family sick leave (33%) and career development services (23% of mentions), ReportLinker found.

Are all perks offered in the company also used by employees?

While just 11% of employees say their employers currently offer telecommuting, 22% of respondents ranked this perk first among perks they deemed essential. Among those whose employers allow them to telecommute, 70% say they can telecommute as often as they want.

Employees also point to other perks as being essential, notably parental leave, followed by access to free snacks, gym memberships and nap pods or relaxing areas, says ReportLinker.

For Americans, the essential office perk is being able to telecommute.

The recognition that the balance between work and personal life matters has led some companies to offer employees extended time off to follow their passions outside of work. Employers who offer this benefit are more likely to see a return in employee loyalty.

Although just 38% of employees say their employer allows them time off to follow passions, the majority of these employees – 69% – are also more likely to say they’re strongly committed to their organization, according to ReportLinker’s survey results.

For 62% of Americans, extended time off is not permitted.

The Surprise Value of Perks

But perks do more than just increase employee satisfaction. Some can also improve productivity.

The first salvo in the quest to improve productivity was the conversion from closed to open floor plans. By eliminating cubicles and offices with doors, businesses encouraged collaboration among employees. It was a bet that paid off: more than 90% of workers say they believe their environment boosts their productivity, according to ReportLinker.

Although unusual perks offered by tech companies have been well-publicized, they’ve gotten little attention for their impact on productivity. Among Google employees, for example, favorite perks include the free gourmet food and health-related benefits, such as massages and on-site healthcare. Both types of perks save employees time and money as well as increase their productivity. Perks such as gym memberships and sleep pods are also known to improve productivity.

Thus, despite being less traditional, these perks can substantially benefit the organizations that offer them.

“The companies that are winning the productivity battle are the ones that provide productivity hours, naps, a chance for exercise, a calm, tranquil, orderly environment in which to do their work. If you’re in a stressful environment where you’re asked to produce and produce, you’re unlikely to have any deep insights,” writes Daniel Levitin in his book, The Organized Mind.

“Studies have found that productivity goes up when the number of hours per week of work goes down, strongly suggesting that adequate leisure and refueling time pays off for employers and for workers.”

 

This survey conducted by ReportLinker reached 500 online respondents representative of the US population. Interviews were conducted between February, 15th and February, 17th 2017.