Zillennial employees’ needs are going beyond traditional benefits to include a greater interest in an employer’s stance on environmental and ethical issues (45 per cent), as well as diversity, equity and inclusion (40 per cent), according to a new survey by MetLife Inc.

The survey, which defined zillennials as a micro-generation born between 1993 and 1998, also found this age group is increasingly interested in new benefits, such as student debt assistance, with 50 per cent calling it a must-have.

In addition, when asked which benefits would improve their well-being, zillennials cited paid and unpaid leave benefits (74 per cent), work-life management programs (67 per cent), mental wellness benefits (62 per cent) and programs to support their financial needs (55 per cent) as top priorities.

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It also found 27 per cent of zillennials said they’ve considered leaving their employer for an improved benefits package over the past year, compared to 19 per cent of all age groups.

“When it comes to improving job satisfaction, loyalty and retention, employers need to think of benefits as the foundation of the whole employee experience,” said Todd Katz, executive vice-president of group benefits at MetLife, in a press release. “Benefits are critical, but they don’t exist in a silo. Employers should be offering comprehensive packages that both complement and reinforce the other critical elements of the employee experience. If they don’t, they risk losing this vital sector of the workforce to an employer who will.”

Indeed, the survey found that zillennials, in particular, are looking for purpose-driven environments that meet their shifting priorities. They’re interested in employers that provide a clear sense of purpose, with fewer than half (46 per cent) saying they’re willing to stay with a company that doesn’t have a clear and positive company purpose.

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A work culture that taps into and improves employee social and mental health has also become a top consideration for zillennials, noted the survey, which found more than half (53 per cent) of this generation said having an unfulfilling job is currently a top source of stress.

The same percentage (53 per cent) of zillennials said they’ve sought mental-health help in the last year, compared to 31 per cent of all respondents. And the age group felt more strongly (41 per cent compared to 41 per cent of all respondents) that their employer is doing only the “minimum possible” to help them adapt to their new working environments.

“It’s clear we’ve reached a critical inflection point in the workplace and employers across industries should not only be taking note, but should also see this as an important opportunity for reflection and growth,” said Katz. “As employees rethink not only how, but also why they work, zillennials are quickly setting a new standard for evaluating the employee experience.

“By using this generation’s expectations as a barometer for success, employers can evolve to meet their needs in stride — which is important, particularly as zillennials gain a stronger foothold in the workforce.”

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