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Staples Advantage: Millenials value flexibility and office perks, but also salary

By Brianna Crandall, October 5, 2015—Contrary to popular belief, Millennials have similar motivations pertaining to salary when compared to their older cohorts, according to the 2015 Workplace Index, a recent study of office workers in the United States and Canada, conducted by Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples. Almost one-third of Millennials (29%) report that higher salary is the biggest contributor to their loyalty, despite only 20% of the broader workforce reporting the same. The survey also revealed that such nontraditional benefits as flexibility and office perks are key to retaining to Millennials.

"Millennials are becoming the largest demographic in the U.S. workforce — about one-third of all workers — so it's critical for employers to understand how to attract and retain Millennial talent," said John Burke, senior vice president, chief culture officer, Staples, Inc. "Our Workplace Index found that contrary to popular belief, salary is important to Millennials, just as it is to older workers."

Five unconventional ways to attract and retain Millennial talent

U.S. office workers as a whole consider title and work responsibilities (38%) and work-life balance (30%) as leading contributors to their loyalty. Millennials favor more nontraditional benefits in the workplace.

  • Flexibility where and when they work: Over half of Millennials report they work from home after the standard work day is done, compared to only 39% of all U.S. office workers. Given this, it is no surprise that Millennials say more flexibility will improve their happiness (49%) and their productivity (59%).

  • Office perks promote positive culture: Office perks, such as a gym on site, a well-stocked breakroom, and free lunches, are valuable to Millennials. One in five (21%) define a good work culture as a place that offers incentives and perks, and nearly half (46%) say more office perks would improve their happiness.

  • Eco-friendliness appeals to altruistic Millennials: Eco-friendly practices in the workplace can provide benefits not only for the environment, but for recruiting Millennials as well. When making an employment decision, half of all Millennials say an eco-friendly company is important, compared to only 35% of the broader workforce.

  • Improved breakroom and encouraged break time: Over a third of Millennials (34%) say they feel like they cannot take a break because of guilt, compared to only 22% of all U.S. office workers. However, over half of Millennials (62%) say having a break time to refresh would increase their productivity. Millennials also say a well-stocked breakroom leads to happier employees (57%), less stress (35%), more productive employees (35%), and a more social environment (33%).

  • Trust in leadership and relationship with direct boss: Millennials who are not expecting to change jobs note that trust in leadership and trust in their direct boss contributes to their loyalty. In addition, one in five Millennials reports that their direct boss motivates them to do their best work, and over a third (35%) note that strong leadership defines a good work culture. Feedback from their boss is also important to this generation. Nearly one-third of Millennials (28%) say feeling appreciated contributes to their loyalty and 26% say recognition motivates them to do their best at work.

The majority of Millennials (70%) expect to be in a management position in the next five years, compared to 48% of the broader workforce. With more Millennials expected to rise to management positions in the coming years, the authors expect these nontraditional benefits to continue to become more prominent in U.S. workplaces.

Key considerations that drive Millennial productivity

Millennials seem to be less concerned with technology issues than the broader employee base. While 72% of all U.S. office workers say poorly performing technology decreases their productivity, only 56% of Millennials reported the same. In addition, 49% of Millennials say limited IT support will decrease productivity, compared to 62% of all U.S. office workers.

Millennials are also social media natives, and as such, it does not seem to negatively impact their productivity. In fact, many say the use of social networking sites/tools (28%) and apps that track to-do lists (42%) actually increase their productivity.

When asked how employers can help employees combat overwork and burnout, the majority of the broader employee base (54%) said employers should decrease their workload or provide more time to complete tasks, compared to only 42% of Millennials. This could be due to Millennials having grown up in the digital age where the always-on mentality has dominated, so their threshold for information overload is a bit higher, notes the report.

Staples Advantage Workplace Index methodology

The survey was conducted among 2,602 employees 18 or older across a variety of companies, both in size, geography and industry. A total of 1,528 employees were interviewed in the USA (1,026 were classified as general workers and 502 as business decision-makers), and a total of 1,074 employees were interviewed in Canada (744 general office workers and 330 decision-makers). The interviews were conducted online by Redshift Research in May 2015.

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