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Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto, License: N/A, Created: 2014:04:13 14:18:04

Getty Freedom Images

by Phil Yacuboski

For millennials and Generation Z, it’s more about what is in the benefit package for a future employer than what is in the paycheck, according to a new study. Traditional benefits and a good retirement plan are what employers need to attract and keep young people.

“This is the largest group in the workforce today, and they are going to have a huge influence on how companies are structuring benefits because of the sheer number of employees that are in the workplace and because more and more are moving into positions of power,” said Eric Reisenwitz, chief operating officer of Lincoln Financial Group’s Group Protection Business, based in Radnor. “They are the ones who will be making these decisions about benefits.”

The company recently commissioned the study along with the Center for Generational Kinetics.

“A lot of the preconceived notions that this group is more style than substance are looking like they are wrong and they are concerned about what they are doing with their finances,” he said.

Gen Z’s oldest members are 23 years with the oldest millennials topping out at age 37. More than one in three people employed in the workforce are millennials, according to the Pew Research Center and an analysis of U.S. Census data. Millennials surpassed Gen Xers in 2016. In the mid-1980s, baby boomers made up the largest portion of the workforce; now they account just a quarter of that total, according to the research.

“Almost two-thirds of millennials would take a job that pays less but offers better benefits and the number of Gen Z people who are the kids coming up out of college, that number was 60%,” said Reisenwitz. “That’s significant.”

Forty-four percent of millennials have turned down a job because the benefits were not to their liking, according to the research.

“Sixty percent of millennials want something to do with their retirement plan,” he said. “They want to have an avenue for putting away money for the future. That’s not something I was thinking about when I was in my early 20s or mid-30s. A little more than half think dental insurance is important and 50% say life insurance is important.”

Reisenwitz said, after salary, 73% of millennials’ benefits were most important and 57% have stayed in a job longer than they wanted (even a job they didn’t like) because the benefits were good.

“Employers need to think about these groups in a few ways,” he said. “It’s challenging in attracting and retaining people. I’d tell employers that benefits are something they need to think about across their workforce. I think they intend to downplay that on the younger population. Medical benefits are a must have, but it’s just not enough.”