The Workplace Perks Gen Z & Millennials Actually Want

Nov 17 2021

We asked Gen Z and Millennials about the workplace trends and perks that would actually make them enjoy their jobs more. Here’s what they told us…

There’s no doubt that pandemic has transformed the traditional workplace. YPulse’s What’s Next For Work trend report explores the new expectations that young workers have for their jobs and and their careers, as well as the realities of the Great Resignation for Gen Z and Millennials. Certainly, jobs with low wages and poor working conditions are the ones that young workers are most likely to be leaving as they instead look for positions with good pay. But Gen Z and Millennials are leaving jobs across industries as they reassess their paths forward, and employers are scrambling to figure out what will actually keep young talent at a workplace.

Once upon a time, it was believed that ping pong tables, an open office plan, and beer on tap would make Millennials flock to a job. But of course, YPulse has long held that perks are less important than actual benefits, and our trend research found that ​​salary, flexible work hours, and work/life balance are the most important elements of an ideal job. And in the work from home era, Fast Company has reported that “the era of the wacky office perks is dead.”  So are there any workplace perks that are actually attractive to Gen Z and Millennials?

To get a better understanding of the kind of workplace trends and perks young consumers are really interested in, we asked them, “If your job incorporated the following workplace trends, how would it impact your feelings about working there?” Respondents could tell us whether a workplace perk would make them enjoy working someplace less, not impact their feelings about working there, or make them enjoy working someplace more. We found that there are perks that would make Gen Z and Millennials enjoy a workplace more, but they’re not always the same:

The top workplace trend that would make the majority of Gen Z and Millennials enjoy working at a job more is free meals in the office. Of course, free meals are not just a nice perk, but a huge money saver for young employees. According to a survey from grocery delivery service Peapod, 67% of employees who had access to free food at work reported being “very happy” at their jobs, while 48% said this perk would be a deciding factor in choosing a new job. Companies in various industries, including law firms, have been creating designated days to offer free lunches. While others have added fancier coffee machines and “beer fridges” to their spaces, our data shows that free beverages are not a perk that as many young employees would care about. 

Another top perk that Gen Z and Millennials agree would make them enjoy a workplace more is having a casual dress code. While younger workers were already dressing more casually than previous generations, working from home / remotely in the last year has certainly exaggerated the trend. We’ve told you that quarantines fueled the interest in athleisure and loungewear, and our recent fashion preferences and style research explores how comfort has become the new office dress code, with the majority of young people listing “comfortable” and “casual” as the top ways they describe their sense of style. Meanwhile, some fashion experts are still expecting trends like “stealth-leisure” and “biz-leisure” to be popular in a post-COVID era. 

Unlimited vacation days another workplace trend that Gen Z and Millennials both say would make them enjoy working at a job more. Like free food and drinks, companies were already implementing an unlimited vacation policy before COVID hit—but even more have begun adding it to their perks and benefits. One of the biggest examples from last year is Bumble. The dating app went viral over the summer when CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd gave the company’s 700+ employees a week off to celebrate their commitment during more than a year of working during a pandemic. On top of giving them a week off, she announced the company would be giving workers unlimited paid vacation days. Many employees praised Herd’s decision on social media, including Bumble’s Head of Editorial Content Clare O’Connor who said that she had “correctly intuited our collective burnout.” Our trend data found that nearly half (45%) of 13-39-year-olds say they want their employers to offer more vacation days to help combat burnout, so clearly that is something they want as an option to make their work environment more enjoyable.

But there are some workplace perks that aren’t equally appealing to both generations. Looking at the differences, Gen Z is much more likely than Millennials to say games in the office, team happy hours / events, coworking spaces, an open office layout, and company clubs would make them enjoy working at their job more. Gen Z has already missed out on a lot of milestones and traditions thanks to the pandemic, and many of them have lost out on some of the socialization and  connection with coworkers that can feel vital when starting out your career. It’s evident that amenities involving some kind of social interaction is something younger employees look for and is important to them when they are at a job—especially after nearly two years of prolonged isolation. The Wall Street Journal reported that daily check-ins and chats with coworkers “help alleviate loneliness and boost well-being more than many people realize,” and employees have expressed how they have missed their work relationships during lockdowns—and our trend research found that 71% of Gen Z say they miss interacting with their co-workers in-person compared to 61% of Millennials.

Meanwhile, Millennials are more likely than Gen Z  to say working from home / remotely is a workplace trend that would make them enjoy their job more. The older generation has had more time in the workplace to establish themselves, and is also more likely to have families, making working from home even more attractive.  Our trend research found that a quarter of young employees are currently working from home full-time, while more than half of Millennials tell us they plan to work from home post-COVID. However, while they’re less likely to say so,  the fact that more than half of Gen Z say WFH / remote would make their jobs more enjoyable shouldn’t be ignored. Ultimately, the next generation of employees is looking for flexibility and believes that hybrid will be the future of the workplace. Spotify, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Pinterest are among the major companies that have adjusted their workplaces to either going full-time or part-time remotely—or adopting hybrid schedules, which gives workers the flexibility to come in whenever they want. Given that younger employees are more likely to crave social interaction, turning to hybrid schedules where they have the option of choosing when they go in might be the best for both generations. 

It’s certainly a no-brainer that young employees want a job with proper pay, benefits, working conditions, and respect. But as Gen Z and Millennials start looking for new jobs or begin heading into the office, knowing the workplace perks that could help retain them could be vital for employers. 

YPulse Business users can access the full What’s Next For Work trend report and full data.

Don’t have a YPulse Business account? Find out more here.

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