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How to attract and retain younger employees

Employees today are essentially ‘consumers’ looking at the marketplace, making decisions on the best offer available. Benefits packages, wellbeing initiatives and rewards systems are all important in recruiting and retaining talent, along with the company’s culture, values and ethics. According to research, more than half of employees consider a comprehensive benefits and reward package as key when looking for new jobs.

Millennials (those born 1981-1995) and Generation Z (born 1996–2010) together make up around a third of the working population and so recruiting and retaining the best young talent is crucial for the future of businesses today. It’s important therefore to be aware that the factors the younger generation consider important are often different to previous generations.

Find out how our business health and wellbeing services could support both your business and employees.

Health and fitness initiatives

Millennials are usually keen to be active and healthy, yet obesity levels among this group are increasing, and this may be influenced by poor lifestyle habits like lack of sleep and alcohol/substance misuse. Health and fitness initiatives are therefore attractive and important to the younger generations.

Providing lunchtime exercise classes, healthy canteen options, and providing entry to sporting and activity related events could all help attract employees.

Commonly known as the first true digital natives, Generation Z are so familiar with technology they’d struggle to imagine a time without it. Therefore, health messaging via digital platforms and fitness apps could also be effective.

Mental health and anxiety

Self-esteem and other mental health issues are prevalent among this group, with more young people in the UK seeking treatment for them than ever before. Depression, anxiety and low self-esteem can be catalysed by their widespread use of social media.

Mental health impacts work performance, absenteeism and productivity, and with more young people actively seeking support, it’s important that your company has a system in place for this.

Offering access to counselling services and 24-7 helplines, training managers in mental health awareness will all help younger employees feel looked after. Lunch and learn sessions on mindfulness and meditation or dealing with anxiety and other mental health issues could help to break the stigma and generate a supportive, open culture at work.

Generation Z crave stability and security, largely due to growing up during the recession and witnessing the struggles many of their parents experienced (such as the growing income gap). Financial worries such as being in debt and the lack of affordable housing in the UK are common, and more than half of Millennials consider money as the top cause of anxiety and stress.

Financial education workshops and webinars could provide some peace of mind in this area, and reduce employee stress. Private healthcare such as Benenden Healthcare and cash plan packages or help with deposits for buying their first home could also attract younger workers.

Flexible working

Research suggests that most of this cohort consider having more leisure time an influential factor to staying in, or choosing, a job. Due to the lack of relevant work after graduation, along with the recession, millennials are uninterested in the typical 9-5 job and they expect flexibility. As they’re so familiar with technology and social media, they are aware that much of their work can be done remotely, and the majority say greater flexibility would increase their productivity at work.

To attract and retain these younger employees, companies could introduce flexible working schemes, consider offering sabbaticals to longstanding employees, and encourage regular workload reviews to ensure work doesn’t regularly take over their weekends or evenings.

Rewards and recognition

Millennials and Generation Z are particularly used to sharing every aspect of their lives on social media, where they receive approval, praise and constant feedback on their activity. It’s important for managers in the workplace to provide constant feedback, especially in the early stages of their career, when they’re keen to establish and prove themselves.

Rewards can range from monetary bonuses, informal and instant recognition such as a sincere thank you or an end-of-project party to celebrate their hard work.

These generations will prioritise organisations that place importance on wellbeing, and they’re likely to jump to another company if their offering is better. To recruit and retain these employees, it’s therefore important that your company understands their needs, and demonstrates a genuine care for these issues.

To find out more about the wellbeing needs of millennials and Generation Z, and relevant health and wellbeing initiatives for them, see our Guide 'Managing the wellbeing needs of a multigenerational workforce'. In this guide you will also find information on the other three generations that make up today's workforce – The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers and Generation X.


Our business healthcare

Benenden Healthcare for Business provides an affordable, high quality, private healthcare solution to support all your employees. With easy setup and no exclusions on pre-existing medical conditions, we want to help make healthcare a standard of employment for everyone, rather than just a perk for the few. See how we can help you develop a healthcare solution that works for your whole business.