Young adults are driving new expectations of workplace benefits

Millennials and Gen Z say paid time off and a flexible work schedule are among the top benefits influencing their choice of where they work, according to new research conducted by Georgetown University in partnership with Bank of America. The study also indicates that these benefits, in addition to health insurance and retirement plans, can factor into young adults’ decisions to stay with their current employer or move to a new job.

In the post-pandemic workplace—with hybrid work environments and a heightened desire for greater work-life balance—companies need to act quickly to promote benefits that support overall employee well-being if they want to attract and retain young adult workers and remain an employer of choice.” —  Kevin Crain, head of Retirement Research & Insights at Bank of America

Highlights from the research

The research, Young adults and workplace wellness, examines attitudes and priorities of 1,032 Gen Z and younger Millennial workers (ages 24-35). Additional findings include:

Young adults are struggling financially...

Graphic showing 44 percent of young adults indicate they have outstanding student loans or consumer debt and 49 percent of those with debt prioritize paying it off over saving for retirement.

...and are not optimistic about retirement.

Graphic showing confidence of young adults that they'll be able to afford to retire at the age they want. 52 percent are confident. 31 percent are somewhat confident and 21 percent are very confident. 17 percent are neutral. 29 percent are not confident.

Employers have an opportunity to improve workplace wellness.

Graphic showing 24 percent of young adults strongly agree that their employer has policies or structures in place to support work-life balance.

Young adults who rate their workplace wellness as very good:

Graphic showing 29 percent with flexible work schedules or a work-from-home option and 11 percent without these benefits.

Young adults’ ties to their work are not strong.

Graphic showing 68 percent view their work as a way to make a living, not for personal fullfillment; 54 percent indicate they plan to switch to another field or career; and 46 percent say they will look to change jobs/fields in the next year.

Young adults who say they participate in an employer-offered retirement plan:

Graphic showing 61 percent White, 51 percent Hispanic/Latinos, and 46 percent Black/African Americans.

Young adults who say they participate in an employer-offered health insurance plan:

Graphic showing 61 percent White, 59 percent Hispanic/Latinos, and 53 percent Black/African Americans.

Young adults who say a more flexible work schedule or environment is a significant factor in considering a new employer:

Graphic showing 54 percent female and 44 percent male.

Key takeaways

  • Download the Young adults and workplace wellness report and talk with your Bank of America representative about strategies to help enhance employee engagement to help them get the most out of the benefits you offer.
  • Consider providing a menu of benefits from which employees can choose; and offer the choice of compensation in lieu of benefits such as gym memberships, transportation stipend and healthy snacks.
  • Create and reinforce a culture of caring that celebrates wellness and fosters inclusion, professional advancement and success.

Methodology and references: The Wellness Benefits Survey was fielded January 30–February 10, 2023, and was conducted by the AgingWell Hub at Georgetown University’s Business for Impact at the McDonough School of Business in partnership with Bank of America. It was designed and executed by Edge Research utilizing an online panel to produce a nationally representative sample across the U.S., with 1,032 full-time employed respondents, ages 24 to 35, across all genders, age bands, geographies, and education and income levels. Sufficient samples of races/ethnicities and marital, parent and student statuses were collected. The survey follows two focus groups held on December 12 and 13, 2022, with full-time employed young adults ages 24 to 35. One focus group was held with employees of companies with fewer than 100 employees and one group with employees of companies with 100+ employees. The focus groups were two hours in length, with five participants per group.