By Faizal Mitha

Last year, the number of millennials in the workforce reached 36%1 in Canada – more than any other single generation. It is more important than ever to understand what motivates these younger workers and employers should consider creative ways to attract them to their organizations.

The stereotypes of millennials are well known: they aren’t interested in purchasing a car or a house; they want flexible work; they are health and image conscious. Fortunately, stereotypes never tell the whole story. Like most people, millennials are attracted to organizations that share their culture and values. And offering the right kind of benefits is a sign of that shared culture.

More and more organizations are offering a variety of innovative options as part of their benefits packages, including:

Modular Flex Plans: Keep in mind that older millennials who already have families have vastly different needs from younger, single millennials. In fact, because no two employees are the same, rather than offering a one-size-fits-all approach to extended healthcare benefits, innovative employers should consider offering cafeteria plans for their employees. These cafeteria plans have an element of core benefits options but also allow for significant employee choice – a strong plus for a company employing people from multiple generations.

A modular flex plan typically breaks down like this:

  • Flexibility: A single person (often a millennial) who is eager to take advantage of the Flexible Spending Account in lieu of a scaled back traditional benefits plan.
  • Balance: A couple who enjoys the comfort of a traditional benefits plan.
  • Security: A family who invests in an enhanced traditional benefits plan – with higher health and dental coverage.

Spending Accounts: Give employees choice… even with extra cash! Giving employees the ability to choose where to spend their benefits savings accounts is among the most important things employees look for in a benefits package. Some employers have allowed their employees to choose whether they want a Health Spending Account (which tops up vision, dental, and paramedical services) or a Flexible or Lifestyle Spending Account (which covers yoga classes, gym membership, and other valued health-related behaviours). Progressive employers are even covering tattoos and piercings as a form of self-expression under their Lifestyle Spending Accounts.

Financial Literacy: Financial education isn’t being taught in schools anymore, so it’s no longer an assumption that millennials know and understand how to manage their finances. Employers that provide financial literacy programs are attractive, especially since this population is known for its lower incomes and higher debts. Providing basic, accessible financial education – including explanations of RRSPs and other types of investments – is critically important.

Mental Health Support: A leading cause of short term disability for millennials is in the area of mental health and stress. Programs that incorporate the two aspects of mental health – mental fitness and resiliency/mindfulness – are highly sought after. Many employers offer Employee Family Assistance Programs (EFAP), which provide counselling services on demand and offer behavioural therapy, but more and more organizations are moving beyond just ticking the box of a traditional EFAP program and are exploring other programs that reach employees through non-traditional mediums (text, video, etc).

Other Non-Traditional Benefits: One growing segment in the area of non-traditional benefits is in pet care. Canadians have always had pets, but today those pets are often important members of the family. Providing pet insurance that covers pet adoption, medical issues, and even providing paid time off to care for the newest member of the family is a budding area of interest.

There are many additional benefits options employers could offer, depending on the industry, region and even employee interests. Your organization can provide progressive benefits to help you attract and retain talent while still staying true to your organization’s goals and mission.

Hub International’s team of brokers has extensive experience designing next generation benefits and can help you develop a complete benefits package that will meet the diverse needs of all generations in your workforce.

1Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report, as reported by Graham F. Scott in Canadian Business,