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The Employee Benefits Young Workers Want in a Job

YPulse asked young people what type of employee benefits they want in a job. Here’s what they say…


  • Free food is a top benefit that Gen Z says makes an employer more attractive
  • Gen Z is more likely to say mental health support would make them more likely to take a job than Millennials
  • Millennials are more likely than Gen Z to want retirement benefits / 401K and performance bonuses
  • Millennials are also more likely to want four-day work weeks

The work landscape is continuing to change for young people. The Great Resignation has inspired Gen Z and Millennials to evaluate their careers and leave their jobs for better opportunities, and competition for this young talent is feeling more intense than ever. For those trying to recruit and retain Gen Z and Millennials it’s imperative to understand what makes a desirable workplace. We know that burnout and lack of work/life balance will make them leave their jobs, and we’ve covered the workplace perks that they say would make a workplace more enjoyable–but what about benefits? YPulse’s employment and career goals report found that the majority of young employees tell us that working for an organization that offers good benefits is extremely / very important to them. But what benefits actually matter most to these generations?

YPulse’s behavioral survey also dives into everything brands need to know about young talent: how they want to work, what’s important to them in a job, and the type of jobs they are seeking. We asked 13-39-year-olds, “Which of the following employee benefits would make you more likely to take a job?” and gave them a comprehensive list of over 20 benefits, both traditional and non-traditional that they could choose from. The options included everything from retirement benefits and health insurance to tuition reimbursement and the ability to be paid in cryptocurrency. These are the top 10 responses for each gen:

Gen Z is more likely than Millennials to want free food, snacks, and drinks
When we looked at the workplace perks that young people want last year, 66% of Gen Z told us free meals in the office would make work more enjoyable–and now we see that it’s a top benefit they say would make them more likely to take a job. Of course, given that Gen Z is younger and on a much more frugal budget than Millennials, it makes sense that they’re more likely to want free lunches and food from a job in order to save money. A 2020 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 the perk is a deciding factor in choosing a new job. Meanwhile, an ezCater survey found that 93% of leaders reported that more employees show up to the office on days when the company provides free food. Major companies like Adidas have tried luring employees back into the office with free meals, while others created designated days to offer free lunches, or are adding fancier coffee machines and “beer fridges” to their spaces. Food establishments like Subway are offering revamped catering programs to make it easier for businesses to order and cater meals for their workers. For employers who want to pull in young talent, it seems free food is a simple way to make yourself more attractive to Gen Z.

Gen Z is more likely to say mental health support is a benefit that would make them a job more attractive
The burnout among young employees is real, and it’s one of the top things fueling The Great Resignation. In fact, YPulse’s What’s Next For Work trend research found that 78% of young people have felt burnt out because of work, while a study from human resources consulting firm Robert Half, workplace burnout is rising, with 44% of workers saying they feel fatigued on the job. Since Gen Z is prioritizing their mental health, it makes sense that mental health support is one of the top benefits they want from an employer compared to Millennials. In fact, 68% of Gen Z say that having a job that supports their mental health is extremely / very important. And there’s signs that some companies are making moves to better support their employees’ mental health. According to NFP’s 2022 U.S. Employer Benefits Survey, about two-thirds of companies report they have adjusted their policies and procedures to better support the mental well-being of their employees over the last year.

Millennials are more likely than Gen Z to want retirement benefits / 401K and performance bonuses
Millennials are at a spot in their lives where they want more financial stability, and they’re clearly more likely to be thinking about their future than everyday perks, with this generation more likely to say retirement benefits / 401K would make them more likely to take a job. YPulse’s personal finances and services report found that 46% of 20-38-year-olds are saving for retirement, while 56% think they’ll be able to save enough money for retirement. During the pandemic, some Millennials even reported, according to a Northwestern Mutual study, that they plan to retire early, so it seems like the gen is more serious about looking for jobs that help them with those plans.

Millennials are more likely than Gen Z to want four-day work weeks at a job
Sure, while Gen Z is more likely to want mental health support than Millennials, the older gen wants other ways for their jobs to support their mental health—and some believe that answer is offering four-day work weeks instead of the traditional five. Millennials have been working longer than Gen Z, and to them, shortening their work week is a way to prioritize their mental health and living their lives. In fact, YPulse’s What’s Next for Work trend research shows that 39% of Gen Z and 37% of Millennials say shortening the work / school day is something employers and schools should be doing to help combat burnout among employees and students. Some companies have already been experimenting with the four-day work week model: tech company Bolt and NY-based crowdfunding platform Kickstarter have joined the 4 Day Week Global—a global effort helping companies reduce their working hours. And currently, 15 businesses in the U.S. and Canada have joined the six-month pilot program set to begin in 2022. A manager at 4 Day Week Global notes of the companies who are testing four-day weeks, “They have empowered their people to come up with ideas and solutions to change the way we work to ensure we produce the same outcomes over four days rather than five.”

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