Unconventional benefits important for millennials

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Employers looking to recruit new millennial workers may want to offer not only a desirable salary, but a host of less traditional benefits including flexible working arrangements, paid time off, free lunches and an eco-friendly workplace.

Those are among the perks the younger generation of workers is looking for when considering employment opportunities, according to the new Staples Advantage Workplace Index.

The findings are important for employers as millennials become the largest demographic in the U.S. workforce. Millennials make up nearly one-third of the workforce so “it’s critical for employers to understand how to attract and retain millennial talent,” says John Burke, senior vice president, chief culture officer, Staples.

“These nontraditional perks are important to this generation because [younger workers are] motivated by factors other than title and work responsibilities,” he says. “Millennials think of benefits in different terms than older generations, and [they] want to be recognized and rewarded for their work accordingly.”

Flexibility and office perks are key drivers of loyalty for millennials, Burke says.

More than half of millennials report they work from home after the standard work day is done, compared to only 39% of all U.S. office workers, according to Staples data. And it seems they are happier doing so: Millennials said a flexible work schedule would improve their happiness (49%) and their productivity (59%).

“These nontraditional perks are important to [millennials] because they’re motivated by factors other than title and work responsibilities.”

It’s the latest report to tout flexibility in the workplace as an important perk. More and more employers are embracing — and offering — telecommuting and flexible schedules as more employees demand it. A survey of human resource managers by WorldatWork and FlexJobs Inc. recently revealed a full 85% of companies include ad hoc telecommuting in their policy handbooks, 82% have adopted flexible scheduling and 82% support workers’ requests to work part time.

Similarly, Staples found, millennials also value break time — and a break room — with 62% saying such perks will increase their productivity. Millennials say a well-stocked breakroom leads to happier employees (57%), less stress (35%), more productive employees (35%) and a more social environment (33%).

“Having a kitchen stocked with snacks and drinks can help encourage employees to take a break to refresh and recharge, which improves productivity and decreases stress,” Burke says.

Sustainability in the workplace also is an important consideration for millennials. When making an employment decision, half of all millennials say an eco-friendly company is important, compared to only 35% of the broader workforce.

Still, one conventional contributor is important to millennials: salary. Almost one-third of millennials (29%) report that higher salary is the biggest contributor to their loyalty, despite only 20% of the broader workforce reporting the same, according to Staples.

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