Millennials Prefer Job Progression over Incentives

An expert facilities management company, Direct365, has conducted a survey which has found that, when looking for work, millennials (those born between 1982 and 2000) are more concerned about career progression and peer recognition than they are about employee benefits and perks. Almost 60% of respondents revealed that they do not consider the incentives a company has to offer. This goes completely against the belief of what some of the world’s larger companies assume; namely the notion that the greater the perks, the greater the talent you will attract.

This culture of ‘extreme incentives’ has seen companies like Google offer naps; Airbnb offer travel stipends of up to $2000, along with a free stay in any Airbnb accommodation in the world; Google offer death benefits that allow the spouse of an employee who has passed away to continue receiving 50% of their salary for ten years; Spotify offer to pay for egg freezing; and Accenture offer medical costs for gender reassignment.

According to Phil Turner however, who is the Head of Digital for Direct635, such incentives are superficial and provide only a short-term solution to an issue that is much bigger: “The problem with a lot of job perks are that the companies offering them don’t take into consideration what the employee could really use. Fun incentives may look great on paper, but the reality is very different and companies should be working to give staff what they genuinely want.”

“Perks that make your working day a little easier will always be attractive – not to mention peer recognition, appraisals and real career progression. These are priceless.”

Interestingly, the same research conducted by Turner’s company found that while only 40% of 18-24 year olds are interested in job perks, 70% of 35-44 year olds do take incentives into consideration when deciding whether to accept a job offer. Although this shows that there are clear differences between these generations and their motivations, a study of 2000 people by the Institute of Leadership and Management reveals that the primary reason for people (of all ages) searching for a new job is because they feel under-valued. This shared sentiment across generations suggests that incentives cannot replace being made to feel appreciated and respected.

Despite the Direct365’s findings, perks are a very important aspect of any job for most workers in the UK. Though they may not be a defining reason for why we do or do not accept roles, in order for us to be functional people, as individuals who enjoy their lives, health and families, certain benefits are crucial to keeping us happy, stable and productive.

Considering the importance of striking a good balance, Laurence Kellet writing for Direct365 says, “Many companies tend to act like ostriches when dealing with employee benefits, vowing more for extreme blanket perks that often ignore or struggle to cater for what employees really want – especially in workplaces with a wide mix of ages, genders and backgrounds. More thought should instead be put into considering and understanding exactly what the employees themselves need.”

Based on Direct365’s survey, Kellet made the following observations: 35% of participants said flexible working would be their preferred incentive; 14% said gym membership; 27% preferred a company car; and 6% chose childcare vouchers.

In reality, companies should be able to offer both career progression and good job incentives; it is difficult to think of a reason why employees cannot have both. The key for company directors and executives is choosing to offer incentives that are needed and will be used by workers, and that will enrich their personal and professional lives. If a company can do this, it is more likely that they will attract top talent without having to use any of the bells and whistles incentives that a lot of the companies in Silicon Valley use.

Written by

Cambridge University graduate and professional career sector writer.

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