Attract Millennial Job Seekers Without Breaking the Bank

A client recently asked me about the best perks to offer Millennial and Generation Z employees. “Do they want more free food? Or is it more paid time off?” they wondered. “We already offer health care,” they added.

I told them to offer competitive pay and benefits in this time of full employment. Surveys consistently show that all workers — not just Millennials — will leave for higher pay. Millennials’ preferences with respect to benefits are slowly becoming more aligned with those of their parents’ generation as they begin to own homes and have families. They expect subsidized health care, wellness programs, and paid time off, with a special focus on paid leaves of absence.

Perks like free breakfast bars, coffee bars, and stimulating office environments have become the norm. Because they are the norm, they will not attract new workers to you or help you retain your current workers.

If your business can’t spend more on paid time off and paid leaves, look at the non-pay benefits that frequently lead the list of what Millennials, and other generations, want: telecommuting and flex-time, collaborative and innovative work cultures and the potential for long-term careers.

While Millennial job seekers will scour the career page of your company’s website and sites like Glassdoor to check out ratings of your pay and benefits and work-from-home options, they will also be looking for evidence about your work culture. Is it a collaborative, team-based culture that focuses on innovation? Does it provide workers with ongoing feedback, coaching, and training? Is it a company that provides meaningful work to solve a higher purpose for humanity? Can they achieve a work-life balance with this company? Can they see themselves having a long-term career with the company?

Let’s tease apart the research, starting with a very recent Harris Pool Survey conducted on behalf of Glassdoor.

The new survey released on July 25, 2018 identifies the crucial pieces of information job seekers look for when examining job ads. They are the following:

  • 67% look at salaries
  • 63% look at benefits
  • 59% look at worksite location
  • 43% look for commute time
  • 32% look for employee reviews in job ads

The Harris Poll survey on behalf of Glassdoor was conducted between May 7 – 9, 2018 among 1,151 US working age adults 18 or older.[i] Of the total survey participants, 1,015 of the survey takers were employed either full or part-time or were self-employed. The rest, 136, were unemployed and looking for work.

Now that we know what job seekers are looking for, what will induce them to apply for a job? While pay and benefits lead the list, other softer items come into play such as the commute time, good work-life balance, working from home options and company culture.

The Harris Poll survey also asked the respondents what would make them more likely to apply for a job. Here is the breakdown of responses:

  • 48% cited attractive benefits and perks such as paid time off and gym memberships
  • 47% cited convenient and close commutes
  • 46% high salaries
  • 43% good work-life balance
  • 41% work from home flexibility
  • 35% great company culture.
  • 26% company’s financial performance
  • 23% familiarity with the company’s brand

The Harris Poll Survey for Glassdoor asks another interesting line of questioning: what are workers and job seekers looking for when it comes to assessing long-term potential as an employer? Pay and benefits still lead the list, but after that, the answer changes.

  • 44% report company transparency on pay and benefits.
  • 39% report long-term career potential. That is an explanation from employers about how they can grow within the company after joining.
  • 37% say a company having a track record for promoting from within would signify a company has long-term potential for them as an employee.

Are other studies coming to the same conclusion? Yes. While pay and benefits often top the list in this tight economy, more flextime, more paid time off and work-from-home options are also crucial.

A survey conducted in 2017 by Fractl, a content marketing agency and growth marketing services company shows similar findings. Fractl’s survey results were published in the Harvard Business Review.[ii]

The Fractl survey gave 2,000 US workers between 18 and 81, a list of 17 benefits and asked them how heavily they would weigh the options when deciding between a high-paying job and a lower-paying job with more perks.  (Fractl did not survey about pay). Benefits that topped the list — for workers who were choosing between a high-paying job and a lower paying offering better benefits — included better health insurance, more flexible hours, paid time off and work-from-home options. Here is what the numbers demonstrated:

  • 88% better health, dental and vision insurance
  • 88% more flexible hours
  • 80% more vacation time
  • 80% work-from-home options
  • 68% unlimited time off
  • 44% tuition assistance
  • 42% paid maternity/paternity leave
  • 39% free gym memberships
  • 38% free day-care services
  • 33% free fitness/yoga classes
  • 32% free snacks
  • 30% free coffee

Scoring between 26% and 20% in descending order were company-wide benefits, weekly free employee outings, onsite gym, and team bonding events.

It’s always essential to offer competitive pay and health care. But if your company can’t afford other costly benefits, I suggest you consider two low-cost items that Millennials are looking for: more flextime and work from home options. You might also think about providing a collaborative and innovative work culture that provides long-term career potential.

Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting and is a Managing Partner of InnovationOne. He consults and provides “hands-on” support for innovation, global talent strategies, using digital technology to improve recruiting and retention, developing agile leaders and teams, and other strategic initiatives. Questions? Contact Victor at or call him at 707-331-6740. Visit for more insights on talent strategies to support cultures of innovation and his valuable free reports.

[i] “Salary and benefits are most important for US workers and job seekers looking at job ads, according to Glassdoor survey,” Glassdoor Press Center/Press Release, July 25, 2018. Found at

[ii] Kerry Jones, (Feb. 15, 2017), “The Most Desirable Employee Benefits,” The Harvard Business Review. Found at

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