Salary just as important for millennials, study finds

17 September 2015

Millennials are just as motivated by salary as older employees but also value more non-traditional work benefits, according to research.

The Staples Advantage Workplace Index, a study of office workers in the US and Canada, found almost a third of millennials (29 per cent) reported higher salary as the biggest contributor to their loyalty, despite only 20 per cent of the broader workforce reporting the same.

While North American office workers as a whole consider title and work responsibilities (38 per cent) and work-life balance (30 per cent) as leading contributors to loyalty, millennials favour more non-traditional benefits in the workplace, the index showed.

More than half of millennials – those born between the early 1980s and turn of the millennium – work from home after the standard work day, compared to only 39 per cent of all US office workers, the study found. Millennials said more flexibility would improve their happiness (49 per cent) and their productivity (59 per cent).

Nearly half (46 per cent) of millennials said more office perks, such as an on-site gym and free lunches would improve their happiness. Half of all millennials said an eco-friendly company was important when making an employment decision, compared to 35 per cent of the broader workforce. And over a third of millennials (34 per cent) said they felt like they could not take a break because of guilt, compared to 22 per cent of all US office workers.

However, over half of millennials (62 per cent) said having a break time to refresh would increase their productivity. Millennials also said a well-stocked breakroom led to happier employees (57 per cent), less stress (35 per cent), more productive employees (35 per cent), and a more social environment (33 per cent).

Trust in leadership and trust in their direct boss contributed to the loyalty of millennials who were not expecting to change jobs. One in five millennials said their direct boss motivated them to do their best work, and over a third (35 per cent) noted strong leadership defined a good work culture.

Nearly a third of millennials (28 per cent) said feeling appreciated contributed to loyalty and 26 per cent said recognition motivated them to do their best at work. Most millennials (70 per cent) expected to be in a management position in the next five years, compared to 48 per cent of the broader workforce.

Millennials seemed less concerned with technology issues than the broader employee base, the report found. While 72 per cent of all US office workers said poorly performing technology decreased productivity, only 56 per cent of millennials reported the same. Just under half (49 per cent) of millennials said productivity decreased with limited IT support, compared to 62 per cent of all office workers. Millennials also reported the use of social networking sites and tools (28 per cent) and apps that track to-do lists (42 per cent) increased productivity.

Staples said that the “always-on” mentality of millennials who had grown up in the digital age could explain why fewer of them cited a decrease in workload as the best way to combat burnout, compared to the broader employee base.

The retailer said it expected non-traditional benefits to become more prominent in US workplaces in the coming years, as more millennials rose to management positions. Staples senior vice president, chief culture officer, John Burke said that it was was critical for employers to understand how to attract and retain millennial talent, as in the US they are becoming the largest demographic in the workforce.

“Our Workplace Index found that contrary to popular belief, salary is important to millennials, just as it is to older workers,” he said.

The survey was conducted by Staples Advantage, among 2,602 employees across a variety of companies, both in size, geography and industry.

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