“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”
Admit it, you were thinking it would be attributed to some cultural critic commenting on the millennial generation. If you did, you’d be wrong. The quote was attributed to Socrates who penned it approximately 400 B.C..
Millennials, perhaps more than previous generations suffer from a stigma of being unreliable, entitled, and difficult in the workplace, giving HR directors across the country heartburn.
So while society weeps for the future based on their pre-conceived notions of the millennial generation, I say relax, it is all going to be fine. Rather than buy into conventional wisdom; in the words of Stephen Covey “First seek to understand, then be understood” I took an opportunity to interview an intelligent, engaged, and productive 25 year old to see what they are looking for and how employers can adapt.
Here are 5 takeaways on a millennial viewpoint on work, HR and benefits.
- View of the workplace: “Corporate drone in a cube farm or working in retail.” This was the preconceived notion that many in this generation thought would be their choice. We can speculate as to how this developed, perhaps it comes from the endless reruns of “The Office” on TV. It seems much effort is placed on not being a cog in a wheel and there is significant interest in doing more, being more, and getting more out of a job and career than previous generations.
- Motivation at Work: When asked about motivation the response was interesting. My view is there is no one motivational driver, requiring HR to look at multifaceted approached to motivate, attract and retain. Predominantly, the feeling was they want to feel like “contributions to the company go toward achieving something and their contributions ‘matter’” Additionally, there is a desire for recognition if excellence is achieved and they outperform expectation.
- Role of benefits when evaluating a job opportunity: it is widely reported that the majority of younger generations are putting off having families to later in life. This has an impact on how they view the role of benefits in evaluating job opportunities. I’m not sure HR departments have recognizes this. Traditional benefits like health insurance, voluntary benefits and 401(k) are still important, but “…a team working towards a common goal. That is the most significant benefit to me, and matters more to me than the traditional “benefits” (employer 401K match, healthcare, etc.)”
- Employer sponsored health insurance: Perhaps the most encouraging input was feedback on employer sponsored health insurance. The key word that I took from asking about the millennial view of employer sponsored healthcare was “options.” The ‘one-size-fits-all’ plan is dead. It almost seems offensive to this generation that an employer, through a third party payer, would offer one plan at one price for all employees in a company. Regardless of declining the offering due to cost, the one plan offering approach, or the plan design, it is clear that this is a frustration. The good news for HR departments is that technology, forward thinking advisors, and creative options for health care financing and access are being introduced to the market to accommodate this view.
- Importance of being “taken care of”: No matter what generation, everyone wants to feel appreciated and taken care of. There is no getting away from the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy. Millennials are no different in wanting a solid foundation through their work and employer. The full response to the question of being taken care of is worthy of sharing here to put emphasis on the importance of this:
“For me personally, it’s very important. I’ve given the better part of my life to the employer (between commuting and working, I’m left with 4h / day to myself if I’m lucky. And I don’t even have a family to share that time with!) If I’m giving so much of my time and effort to an employer, I want to feel as though they’re taking care of me. My current employer (and boss) take care of me quite well. I feel welcome, I’ve received a ~35% pay increase over the last 2.5 years of working at the company, and they’ve won my loyalty. I work very hard for them, and I go above and beyond. I’m looking forward to getting 4 weeks of vacation once I’ve been here 5 years, and as long as they keep it up, I’m in it for the long haul.”
So what is the conclusion? To me, millennials just want to be treated as human beings while at work. This presents a major positive opportunity for HR departments and business owners. Sure it’s going to mean more work than ensuring a safe productive work places, competitive salaries and benefits, and compliance, but you have a generation motivated to make a difference and contribute beyond minimum levels of expectation.
They are opening the door for HR to be creative in how culture is cultivated and benefits are designed and offered. This is an inflection point giving an opportunity to make positive changes to an organization for decades to come.
With all these challenges, It is important to find the right partner to ensure your company is able to adapt to these changes in the market and HR and benefit options. Virtually no one can do it alone. Benefit Advisors of Charleston is committed to being this partner to help companies in the ever evolving subject of employee benefits.