If HR wants younger employees they hire to be “all in,” organizational leaders will want to take the charge with benefits programs structured around supporting whole-person wellness.
While benefits like annual raises and an employee assistance program (EAP) with appointment limits have been alluring, these perks are now expected by many Millennial and Gen Z employees, who will soon make up 75% of the U.S. workforce.
Improving hiring and retention for the shifting workforce starts with understanding the core values that drive younger generations to join, or leave, organizations in the first place – and that’s health and mental well-being, as a whopping 83% of employees place their benefits as a main deciding factor in whether they will stay at their current job.
Strategically recruit and retain younger talent
Millennials and Gen Z employees are taking over as the prominent generations represented in the workforce. What does this mean for HR departments?
HR will want to be better at strategically recruiting and retaining younger talent. According to a 2022 industry study, 40% of Gen Z workers and 24% of Millennials are planning to leave their job within the next two years. Furthermore, roughly 30% of both groups are willing to leave their jobs without another job lined up.
Historically, switching jobs has always been more common in youth than middle-to-late age workers. As such, now is the time to ensure you’re set up to retain key young talent and keep them healthy so the organization can be the right long-term fit.
By first understanding what keeps these employees feeling healthy – and then offering benefits that meet those underlying needs – we can see measurable improvements in retention, loyalty, and overall employee satisfaction.
A workplace of wellness and support
As an emergency physician, I saw patients come into our emergency department complaining of specific symptoms. Often, their treatment alleviated the symptom but failed to address the underlying cause. Until that underlying condition was directly addressed, those patients would undoubtedly continue to come back. Yet so many of these patients had health and wellness benefits that, in theory, should have been addressing root conditions to prevent prolonged or recurring symptoms.
Leadership may read surveys showing younger generations demonstrate a keen interest in health and wellness compared to prior generations, and industry reports where Millennial and Gen Z employees report wanting better flexibility, autonomy or mental health coverage – and quickly rush to implement work-from-home options, mental telehealth platforms or EAPs.
When Millennial and Gen Z employees are asking for specific benefits, they’re really asking for a workplace that respects and supports their overall physical and mental well-being. By providing flexible schedules or work-from-home options, employers are reducing the time their employees spend on stress-inducing commutes. By offering unlimited PTO, employers offer an opportunity for escape when the employee is feeling burned out, and EAP programs provide someone to talk to in moments of stress or crises.
But all these benefits react to problems, rather than preventing them from happening, and ultimately fail to demonstrate the commitment to whole-person wellness that these employees value most. As such, while 66% of companies are expanding benefits to improve mental well-being, the use of benefits like EAPs and employee retention still remain low. Why? Our workplaces are still treating symptoms – not diseases – and many of the benefits available today are offered within siloed systems that fail to address the whole-person employee.
It all comes down to building trust
By understanding the core values driving acquisition and retention, departments can create holistic benefit packages that address both the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of employees through a cohesive program.
For example, rather than getting a different doctor each time the employee uses a telemedicine platform, have a specific primary care provider or therapist assigned to take those appointments, make follow-up calls and answer text questions. This helps the employee feel known and understood as they develop a relationship of trust.
Trust enables the employee to receive better care from a doctor who sees the whole picture, especially when available mental health services are closely coordinated with traditional medical care. When multiple health services – such as primary care, mental health care and nutritional counseling – are offered quickly under one benefit platform, it makes it easier and more accessible. That builds better engagement and higher patient satisfaction.