A 2023 survey conducted by Georgetown University, in partnership with Bank of America, found that 53% of workers ages 24 to 35 would choose one employer over another based on the health insurance package offered. The health benefits and other job perks your business offers can make the difference between recruiting the people you need to grow your business or losing them to your competitors.
How likely is your team to leave? The data shows that 68% view their work mainly as a way to make a living but not as a major part of their identity or personal fulfillment. The majority (54%) indicate they plan to switch to another field or career, and 46% say they are looking to change jobs in the next year.
Young Adults Want More From Their Benefits Package
The survey found that while 70% of young adults reported satisfaction with their workplace benefits, fewer than one in three young adults (30%) could say they were very satisfied with their benefits package. Young adults with children report the highest levels of awareness of their workplace benefits.
This indicates a need for employers to better communicate their benefits. This can be accomplished by including a benefits section in your company’s employee handbook. Your business can also require or encourage employees to attend a presentation about their benefits. In the presentation, your HR representative will explain how and why to use these benefits.
For instance, if your company offers a high-deductible health care plan that allows employees to contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA), it’s to your advantage to explain the tax benefits to employees, how this benefit is portable to their next job at any other company, and so on.
Offering useful benefits can help with recruitment. Employees actually using these benefits will help with retention.
Workers Are Struggling With Stress Management
Nearly half (46%) of adults 24 to 35 surveyed by Georgetown University admit they find it difficult to manage the stress of work and other things going on in their life. What’s more, 15% strongly agree that they’re finding stress management very difficult.
Matching this data is the result that these workers rate wellness benefits that support stress management and work-life balance as their most desired employer benefits. What are these benefits exactly?
These benefits include
paid sick leave (42%)
unlimited PTO (35%)
flexible work/work-from-home schedules (34%)
Mental health (30%)
Financial wellness in the form of debt management assistance, including student loan payment (22%)
A different 2023 survey, this one by MetLife, found that the proportion of workers viewing wellness tools as a “must-have” benefit has more than doubled in 2023 compared to 2019.
Flexible Work Schedules Are Magical for Employees
The percentage of young adults who rate their overall workplace wellness as good or very good is highest among those who indicate the availability of flexible work schedules (72%).
65% of young male adults rate their workplace wellness programs highly. But only 54% of females say the same. This underscores the critical importance of flexible work schedules to wellness. It may be because these young adults have greater childcare and older-adult care or are less able to afford to pay for this care.
If your business is able to offer a flexible work schedule, strongly consider it. It’s great for employees because it gives them control over their time and allows them to complete non-work tasks as needed, such as doctor visits, caring for children or aging parents, grocery shopping, and more. Flexible work schedules don’t make sense for every industry. But if your industry allows for it, you have a huge advantage over your competitors in the war for talent.
We live in an age of personalization. The days of one-size-fits-all are over. In the 1960s, there were pretty much 3 or 4 TV stations, and everyone watched the same shows. Now, there are nearly unlimited channels and streaming services and content. People select what they want.
Google search results are personalized to your location and previous searches. Sites like Shutterfly personalize everything from coffee mugs to calendars with photos of your family. Allowing workers to customize their schedules is a continuation of this societal trend.
Paul Almeida, dean and chair at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, states, “It’s our responsibility as leaders in business to understand the changing nature of work so that we can build a future that enables current and future generations to thrive.”
Mistake: Not Over-Communicating Your Benefits
The survey revealed that nearly half (49%) of workers wish they had a better understanding of the benefits offered by their company. Let’s face it. Health benefits can be hard to understand. There’s the alphabet soup of HMO, PPO, HSA, FSA, and so many more. Your employees don’t have the time and energy to become healthcare experts.
Your organization invested time, money, and effort to create an attractive benefits package. It’s a shame if it isn’t marketed properly to the folks who will be using it (or ignoring it). Include plain-spoken explanations of your benefits in your employee handbook, in company-wide presentations, and more.
In our own 2023 HR survey, we asked over 2,000 small businesses, “Do you send written job offers including pay rate, pay frequency, leave benefits, and at-will employment?” 1 in 3 companies that failed to grow last year don’t send written job offers with this information, including leave benefits. 83% of Fast Growth companies do.
You can download your copy of our 2023 Small Business HR Benchmark Report at no cost here.
Benefits Are a Recruiting Tool
Let’s say you have an employee referral program. Wouldn’t it be awesome if a current employee could enthusiastically tell a friend, “Hey, I love my HSA through work. It saved me hundreds of dollars in taxes, and it was super easy to use at the dentist. Oh, and our dental plan includes two free cleanings a year. Another thing I like is they give you a paid membership to a meditation app. I had never meditated before, but I thought, what the heck? It’s free, so I tried it. And it’s really helped relax my anxiety.”
Increase Health Insurance Participation
Gen Z workers reported a significantly lower participation rate in health insurance benefits (49%) than millennials (64%). It’s logical that younger people would feel less urgency to use health insurance, but communicating about perks such as free preventative healthcare visits can help. Also, promoting convenient telemedicine options can potentially increase participation rates.
When your team uses health benefits, they’ll grow accustomed to them. Before jumping ship to another employer, they’ll likely expect that company to provide the benefits they have now. Loyalty to your company is earned. When an employee sees that your benefits are better than their other opportunities, they feel valued. If your benefits are more limited, well, that’s a strike against you in the war for talent.
Young Adults Need Help With Retirement Planning
44% of young working adults indicated they have outstanding student loans or consumer debt. Of those people, 49% report that paying off the debt is a greater priority than saving for retirement. Only 28% of those who expect to retire after age 65 plan to stop working fully.
Perhaps it’s not that young adults don’t want to invest in their retirement. It’s that their financial circumstances prevent it. Offering retirement benefits such as a 401(k) match or gift can get these folks started. For instance, here at Asure, the company gifts employees an amount that’s 3% of their salary to their 401(k).
This is “free” money for employees and should be communicated this way. Your younger employees may be doing absolutely nothing for retirement planning, but at least they are invested in the stock market for the long term with their employer 401(k). This can set your business apart from competitors without this offering.
“Employers need to adapt quickly. To be an ‘employer of choice’ to attract and retain young adult workers, employers need to take greater responsibility for their employees’ overall wellness by offering new benefits and encouraging utilization of existing benefits,” remarked Kevin Crain, Head of Retirement Research & Insights at Bank of America.
Watch our video How and Why to Offer a 401(k) Plan to Employees to see how easy it can be for small businesses to offer a 401(k) retirement plan.
Health Insurance Is the #1 Must-Have Benefit for Employees
The 2023 MetLife Employee Benefits Trend Study reports that the benefit that is highest on the list of must-haves is health insurance. 79% of workers consider lack of health insurance benefits to be a deal breaker. 77% feel that lack of paid leave is a deal breaker for employment with your company. 75% feel that no retirement contribution plan is a reason not to work for you. 73% (nearly 3 in 4!) say no dental insurance means they would prefer to work elsewhere. And 70% demand vision care insurance as a standard benefit or employment.
Benefits attract in-demand employees, but they also keep them with you too. The MetLife survey data tells us that 42% of employees don’t feel cared for by their employers. Supplying terrific benefits puts your money where your mouth is. This is an action that shows you care about the team that is growing your business.
Exit Interviews Reveals Benefit Truths
Our own 2023 HR Survey data reports that Fast Growth businesses are 20% more likely to conduct exit interviews with voluntary terminations as compared to businesses that experienced a Down Year. Companies conduct exit interviews to learn about employees’ feelings regarding their job responsibilities, their supervisor, the business as a whole, and more.
This feedback can be valuable when leveraged for future retention efforts with other employees. You can also discover trends that could be causing employee turnover, such as weaknesses in your health benefits offerings. You can potentially elicit more honest and thorough feedback by asking your HR person to conduct the interview instead of the supervisor of the outgoing employee.
Your HR manager or outsourced HR team can design and properly conduct an exit interview. One key question to ask an employee who is voluntarily leaving is simply, “Would you consider staying?” This is an opportunity to learn what changes to the role or upgrades to the compensation and benefits package would make the job more attractive to the employee.
To win the war for talent and retain employees, here are actionable steps for business owners:
Enhance health insurance packages to meet employee expectations.
Improve benefit communication through employee handbooks and presentations.
Prioritize stress management and work-life balance with benefits like paid sick leave and flexible schedules.
Consider offering customizable work schedules for increased employee satisfaction.
Increase health insurance participation by promoting perks and telemedicine options.
Support retirement planning with 401(k) matches or gifts.
Conduct exit interviews to gather feedback and make improvements.
Continuously evaluate and adapt benefits to meet changing employee needs.