how to retain millennials

It’s hard to justify spending money on something that doesn’t have easily calculable ROI. But companies are throwing down thousands of dollars to provide employees with perks and benefits to everyday items. Why?

There was a fascinating statistic in an article by Time magazine that cited the fact that only 4% of federal cybersecurity staff in the U.S. are in their 20s. This came to light after the recent security hack on the U.S. government, highlighting the dire need for tech-savvy millennials in federal security offices. Meanwhile, the median age of employees at Facebook is 28; how can we bridge the age gap between these companies?

It’s high time organizations began realizing companies like Facebook and Google aren’t recruiting millennials magically. Millennials are officially the largest working generation in the United States. As their expectations of their employers continue to grow, companies need to keep up. What will make your company stand out as a fantastic and admirable place to work isn’t just about recognizability or a high pay-grade? Outside-of-the-box recruiting and retention tactics should no longer be exclusive to Silicon Valley because they’ve already been proven to work.

Money is no longer the primary motivator for employees and would-be new hires. Companies seem to be missing this or just coming to terms with it. The majority of employees are seeking work that brings meaning and fulfillment to their daily lives where managers and executives show employees their appreciation.

So let’s break down the key reasons why companies are investing in employee perks today.

For Their Employer Brand

Looking at the “Best Companies to Work for in 2015” list, the most highly ranked companies (whether it’s Fortune, Glassdoor or Forbes) are known worldwide for their robust employee perk offerings: whether it’s discounted or on-site gym memberships, flex time off, or considerable parental leave.

For today’s companies, the way they treat their employees significantly defines their employer brand. Offering robust employee perks and discounts is a great way for them to “show off” how much they care for their employees – and maybe even help them to make it on a “Best Companies to Work For” list.

Employee perks help elevate a company’s employer brand; the positive vibes flow and help build a strong and positive reputation of the company outside of the workplace. And you know what they say about happy employees: happy customers aren’t far behind.

For Attracting and Keeping Top Talent

There seems to be a perpetual dialogue around employee perks being “nice-to-haves” that are only important to Silicon Valley tech firms with deep pockets.

The fact still stands: forty-three percent of employees consider employee perks and benefits a significant factor in accepting a job. Even more, 50% of employees consider them an important reason to stay with their current employer. A study by Aflac showed that 59% of employees would consider accepting a job offer that paid less but had a more built-out benefits package.

Meaning, higher retention, and recruitment are some of the benefits of having a strong, admirable employer brand.

For Direct Savings

Don’t forget: companies can utilize any discounts they negotiate as employee perks for their own business expenses.

This can be huge: discounts on catered lunch for the team, printer paper, healthy snack delivery for the office kitchen…annual savings for office supplies will be significant.

So while the direct goal of offering employee perks and discounts is to support employees financially, so they have better work-life balance and lead healthy lives around wellness, it also means the company can take advantage of it’s own “perks” and save money in the process.

For Their Customers

Happy employees mean happy customers. When employees feel taken care of – which is the ultimate goal of employee perks – they are likely not only to be strong brand champions and stay at the company long-term, but they treat their customers better.

Zappos is a well-known example of this. Encouraging employees to stay healthy by offering gym memberships and discounts on home services means happier employees. Sponsoring employees’ nighttime activities – maybe to a comedy show or a trip abroad – makes for better interactions with customers and more productive work days after.

And if that’s not convincing enough, listen to the pros:

“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”

  • Simon Sinek, motivational speaker and author of Start With Why

“Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”

  • Anne M. Mulcahy, former Chairperson, and CEO of Xerox Corporation

“There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”

  • Jack Welch, former Chairperson, and CEO of General Electric

So what’s the secret to happy customers? Putting employees first.

Perks & Discounts Are a Two-Way Street

The primary goal is to make employees feel appreciated for their work. But, additional business savings and a boost in brand reputation will have longer-term benefits for the company that can have a significant impact on its bottom line. Immediate and clear ROI might be hard to point to immediately, but there’s no doubt the employees who feel appreciated for their work will help bring success to your company.


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