Popular New Benefits Reflect Changing Workforce

In the ongoing battle for benefits supremacy, employers are increasingly offering perks that probably never would have even crossed their minds just a decade ago. As with so many changes in the workplace these days, the shift has been prompted by Millennials, who are drawn by more than the bottom-line salary.

Susan Caminiti reports on about some of the most popular perks for Millennials and how they can give you a competitive recruiting edge:

Paid volunteer time off. Caminiti says Millennials want to work for companies that make a positive impact in the world. The Millennial Impact Report found that more than 75% of surveyed Millennials “preferred to perform cause work with groups of fellow employees as opposed to doing independent service projects.” It’s no surprise, then, that more than half of Fortune’s list of the 100 Best Places to Work offer paid time off for volunteering.

Student loan repayment. As Caminiti notes, there’s a reason so many young adults still live with their parents—they can’t afford to move out, largely because of crushing student loan debt. She says that, on average, Millennials are walking into their first job with debt of almost $28,000. As of now, only 4% of companies offer loan-repayment assistance, but the number is likely to rise.

Flexible schedules. Flexible schedules appeal to employees of all ages, but Millennials in particular have little desire to report to work 5 days a week. One survey found that more than one-third of surveyed Millennials had left a job because of the lack of a flexible schedule, and a similar number said they would take a 20% pay cut for a telecommuting option.

Pet insurance. Millennials dig their pets. Twenty-somethings account for 35% of American pet owners, Caminiti says, so companies that make it easier to care for their “fur babies” have an edge. Most companies offering this benefit pay a percentage of the premiums that cover the cost of veterinary care, medicines, and surgeries.

Financial wellness counseling. Many Millennials are stressed about their finances (see above about student loan debt), more so than other demographic groups. Caminiti says smart employers are responding by offering help beyond the usual retirement planning. The most popular topics include managing student loan debt, day-to-day budgeting, and even the role of financial stress on health.