Workplace Benefits for Recent Grads to Offer

by Victoria Mckee

As businesses compete to hire the best talents, it’s crucial for them to know the benefits that appeal to new graduates. Employers will stand out when offering benefits aligning with the specific needs of their target demographics.

But why focus on new grads? You’ll be surprised that this is one of the top demographics you should focus on hiring! On average, over one million recent college graduates enter the labor force, and many of those are the fresh talent that has the capabilities to rise as they contribute to the company.

But the benefits go beyond a competitive salary. New grads look for perks aligning with their current life circumstances and career. Being young professionals mainly from Generation Z, these recent grads have very different attitudes and expectations towards employment compared to the older generations.

A Deloitte report assessed Gen Z’s future impact on the workplace, suggesting that employers need to learn about their external environment to attract Gen Z talent. That means employers should begin supporting employee development further as well as provide robust training and align with Gen Z values, like diversity.

Innumerable new grads are looking for more personalization in terms of moving along in their careers, emphasizing becoming global citizens.

So, what does this all mean? It means you’ll need to evaluate the current benefits your company offers and begin adding more that cater to new grads. With that in mind, here are the best workplace benefits for recent grads.


Student Loan Repayment

One of the most sought-after perks among new graduates is a company offering student loan repayment assistance. One survey reported that 9 of 10 college students with student loan debt look for employers offering student loan perks.

Student loan assistance is a very relevant benefit today because student debt is now reaching new highs! An article from Forbes showed that almost 45 million Americans have a form of student loan debt, with the average debt being about $32,731!

If employers want to stand out, it’s best to offer perks like employer repayment programs. These are attractive to recent grads, with these programs set up for employers to pay a portion of their employees’ student debts for every month they work. Adding to that, such programs may also incentivize recruitment and long-term retention rates.


Unlimited Paid Time Off

Today, new graduates are looking for employers promoting work-life balance, which is why unlimited paid time off is becoming a highly attractive benefit to this demographic.

This benefit will allow employees to decide for themselves when to take time off and how much they need to take. Lucrative arrangements like these will give employees more flexibility. Moreover, it will instill more trust between management and employees, creating a better employee experience in the long run.

That said, it’s crucial to ensure that vacation policies must actually encourage employees to take their vacation time. Some companies offer unlimited PTO, but it only appears as a shiny perk, seeming attractive on the surface but actually discouraging vacation time. It’s essential to find the balance to benefit employees and the company.


Technology-Related Benefits

Being a digital-first generation, Gen Z is more technology-driven compared to other age groups. They are conditioned to expect immediacy, wanting access to information easily and quickly regardless of when and where.

That means employers that want to recruit new grads from Gen Z must invest in technology platforms and mobile apps where employees can manage their tasks conveniently. This is where they can also efficiently manage their employee benefits, PTO, or payroll.

Moreover, employers may want to consider offering gadgets such as laptops, phones, or tablets. A study conducted by Dell showed that 80% of Gen Z expect companies to provide such gadgets and that 91% say the technology would influence their decision to choose employers.


Flexible Scheduling

Flexible scheduling is a tremendous asset to companies wanting to attract recent grads. A survey showed that about 80% of employees turn down jobs that don’t offer flexible scheduling, with 53% of those surveyed noting that they find the ability to choose their job location is more important than company prestige.

Because of that, in the past decade, 83% of companies have introduced or will be introducing flexible workspace policies.

There are many benefits when it comes to offering flexible scheduling, such as decreased turnover rates, better workplace morale, and improved work-life balance. Recent grads feel an increased sense of personal control over their environment as they have the time and space to meet any personal needs outside work.

With the appropriate support and tools, recent grads can easily adjust to working in flexible work environments, having a schedule working best for them.


Relaxed Dress Code

Dress codes have continued to serve the vital role of establishing appropriate office attire. However, the relevancy of dress codes in the workplace is becoming a rising topic of discussion. Companies that do not require formal business dresses now allow more flexible options.

While it sounds straightforward, it’s actually an enticing and fun perk to offer! Casual attire options promote more laidback and relaxed cultures, and it can encourage employees to feel more productive when they feel comfortable in what they wear. But just like unlimited PTO, it’s important to find a balance between casual work attire and what’s TOO casual for the office setting.


Professional Development Opportunities

Numerous recent grads just launched their careers, seeking opportunities for guidance and growth. Employers providing training, and mentoring, among other professional development opportunities, will appeal to Gen Z, as they need and desire extra support to kickstart their careers.

There are some practices employers can implement, such as certification programs, internal apprenticeships, or even leadership development meetings between new graduate hires and senior employees.

Employers demonstrating the commitment to growth and development for their employees will stand out, appealing to recent graduates.


HSA and FSA Benefits

Healthcare is quite pricey, which is why it isn’t surprising to see Gen Z prioritizing health insurance when looking for employment. In fact, a study by Concordia University found that about 70% of Gen Z respondents answered that health insurance is a must-have when searching for employment.

That’s why it’s vital to offer a health savings account and/or flexible spending account to its healthcare benefit offerings. This is a massive differentiator among benefits packages as HSAs and FSAs offset healthcare expenses. This is a huge benefit for entry-level candidates.


Lifestyle Benefits

Gen Z wants their employers to have a people-first approach to the workplace. This means focusing on personal growth and wellbeing, which goes hand in hand with professional growth.

To offer benefits like these, we recommend offering wellness stipends for employees to use for fitness classes or gym memberships. Or they can use these stipends for continuing education funds for employees to learn and obtain skills that will help their career growth.

You may want to go beyond employees’ health insurance as well and offer pet insurance, a desirable perk among pet owners.


Workplace Benefits that Actually Matter

Company culture is crucial to younger employees, with a study from Deloitte showing that 77% of Gen Z respondents prioritize working with organizations with values aligning with theirs. Sure, you can go for in-office snacks, unlimited coffee, and ping pong tables, which sound fun. But they actually might not be necessary, nor would they amount to community building or team bonding.

Gen Z finds it important to work for companies building a sense of community, with companies being able to do their part by fostering an even more open and inclusive work environment. As an employer, you can do that through hosting team outings, volunteering events, and happy hours.

Paid Volunteering Opportunities

Speaking of volunteering events, new grads from Gen Z are a socially-conscious bunch, so they would like to align themselves with purpose-driven companies valuing corporate social responsibility.

One 2017 survey found that Gen Z is more likely to favor employers with a wide range of initiatives in the workplace, may it be through sustainability, fair trade, fundraising partnerships, and the like.

You can go further than high-level donations by directly establishing a corporate social responsibility program involving employees in company efforts. This has them feel even more fulfilled in where they work at. It’s a win-win situation – Your company stays committed to social impact, and it can double as a valuable benefit for recent grads.

Financial Education and Retirement Savings Plan

After Gen Z has witnessed two economic recessions and will have to enter the workforce amid a global pandemic, it’s easy to see why Gen Z is more security-oriented. A study from the Transamerica Center for Retirement showed that 70% of Gen Z respondents between 18-23 years old were already saving for retirement.

That’s why it’s worth offering 401(k) benefit plans to attract and retain recent grads. Moreover, financial education is seen as invaluable for recent grads, many of whom are still learning to navigate the waters on their own for the very first time. That’s why it may be suitable to bring in financial advisors to help employees establish budgets.

Besides financial education, you may also consider offering help with finances in other ways, such as online services to evaluate and chose loan-repayment options, or simple benefits like:

  • Causal dress codes to reduce wardrobe costs
  • Free healthy food onsite or provided at a lower price
  • Safe areas to lock bicycles and scooters
  • Assistance for commuting and public transportation
  • Free shuttle services to and from certain areas
  • The opportunity to work remotely
  • Reduced health insurance costs

All these can make significant changes in employees’ budgets, thus enticing recent grads to choose your company.


Diversity and Inclusion

Today’s graduates value diversity, seeing it as a crucial factor as they decide which organization to apply for and work in. That’s why it’s critical to offer Equal Opportunity, Indigenous, and Neurodiversity programs, which are excellent ways to showcase the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Use appropriate tools to reduce any implicit communication biases in recruitment postings and advertisements. You may also utilize recruitment technologies, like video interviewing tools that mask candidates’ voices, names, and faces, among other identifying features. Doing so reduces bias and can increase the diversity and overall size of a company’s graduate talent pool.


Healthy Workplace Culture

Company culture is a huge priority among many new graduates, and again, it’s more than shiny perks than decorative offices and pantries filled with snacks. Recent grads look for employers with a healthy workplace culture to support them as they go through long-term careers.

Being a security-oriented and future-focused generation, new grads are looking for a work environment supporting growth. They are motivated by a healthy workplace culture focusing on learning, development, support, flexibility, and rewards to recognize those who work hard.

Did you know that 65% of Gen Z workers are looking for a fun company when considering job offers? This group wants a strong communal atmosphere. Because of that, recruiters should begin maintaining an inclusive and cordial workspace through yoga sessions, meditation sessions, and happy hours, among other team bonding activities.


Direct Deposit

Many employers now arrange for employees’ paychecks to be deposited directly into their bank accounts. This is an excellent opportunity for employees to establish their cash reserve for emergencies or save towards larger purchases, like cars or homes.


Employer Stock Purchase Programs

It may be worth providing employees with opportunities to invest in shares of the company’s stock at discounted prices. That way, employees have a chance to own part of the company they work in, which helps them feel more familiar with and feel more invested in the company’s success.

Wellness and Mental Health Programs

Did you know that around 27% of Gen Z report poor mental health? The younger generation wants to go to therapy and seek help. Unfortunately, about half of people do not seek mental health care because of barriers to care. There are numerous obstacles like time constraints, transportation issues, cost of treatment, and even the mental health stigma.

That’s where employers can help attract and commit to helping top talent as they build stronger cultures and create positive differences. It may be worth providing mental health services such as counseling, and guided meditation, among others. Providing the help they need for their mental health will improve their health and careers.

Feedback and Mentoring

Gen Z is go-getters, wanting to learn and grow. Provide them everything they need to do so! Give them tools by providing access to coaches and mentors, along with opportunities for career advancement.

Recent grads also have a strong desire to help others grow. Give them opportunities to manage others as they continue to advance, helping serve those in the community as they work. Involve employees in strategic decisions and pivots, give them ownership, and ask for feedback.

Doing so is an incredible motivator and a way to boost morale. As mentioned, provide appropriate training so new grads can continue excelling and have room to grow.

You’ll be surprised by how many employees enjoy genuine feedback. That’s why it’s crucial to provide them feedback and mentoring through one-on-one meetings.

Besides mentoring, employees will significantly appreciate employee resource groups. These groups are formed around life experiences or shared characteristics like disability, military service, sexual orientation, and the like. Moreover, the groups are made up of employees f who directly identify with the group and others who want to show their support.

More Online Perks

Recent grads from Gen Z are made up of those who spent most of their lives online. Because of that, they are more likely to respond to benefits reflecting that digital life!

That’s why, besides offering online financial services, you may want to consider also providing these valuable benefits:

  • Discounted identity theft protection, which appeals to workers who conduct their financial transactions online
  • Online wellness solutions to track and subsidize healthy activities, along with providing virtual access to health coaching
  • Telemedicine programs make it easier for employees to receive help and treatment for minor ailments, as well as to get their prescriptions refilled at lower costs compared to going to the doctor’s office.
  • Virtual mental health counseling to receive convenient and mobile-friendly emotional support
  • Online rewards platforms for employee recognition can increase engagement.


Communication and Job Preferences

Attracting recent grads would involve meeting them where they’re situated, and it can be as something simple as offering great communication to get them to join your team. The proper communication can be a gamechanger to win new grads over from the competition.

For instance, a study from Yello Recruiting shared that email messaging is Gen Z’s #1 communication link with prospective employers. But when sharing recruitment marketing content, it’s important to have various communication channels to win new talent. You may also want to employee video calls to attract Gen Z.

In terms of job preferences, recent grads part of Gen Z may prefer secluded working areas over open working spaces as they value their social boundaries and personal space. They also want careers where they are able to showcase an entrepreneurial drive.

That’s why employers should consider offering the option of either private or collaborative work.


Competitive Salary

And of course, we cannot deny that any generation, whether boomers or recent grads from Gen Z, will greatly appreciate and require a competitive salary, especially in these trying times! Even if competitive salaries aren’t the top benefits people consider when selecting jobs, it’s something Gen Z looks for and heavily factors into when choosing where to work.

You can conduct research on your competitors regarding the salaries of certain job positions. This can give you an idea of what you can offer future employees.

Why Hire Recent Grads

So, you’re probably wondering – What does Gen Z have that other age groups don’t? Here are the reasons why you should focus on hiring Gen Z and offer the appropriate benefits:

  • Gen Z is a generation of full digital natives who do not waste time. They are multitaskers and know how to navigate the new technological world, getting all the information they need within seconds!
  • This generation is digitally social, understanding and using social apps for information, communication, work, and pleasure. They can do wonders for your social media strategies to amp up your company’s name online.
  • Gen Z cares about career growth, with security being a central theme as they join companies. Moreover, they are driven by social responsibility, like millennials.
  • Gen Z craves mentorship, feeling comfortable and assured as they learn from older age groups. Moreover, they can learn soft skills working with other generations, which leads to company success.
  • The new generation of recent grads is flexible and able to work anywhere, focusing on work-life balance in a relaxed environment.


Wrapping It Up

Many new graduates come from Gen Z, who have different attitudes and expectations about employment. Competitive salaries are still an essential factor, but recent grads want more benefits and perks aligning with their current needs even beyond the office.

While catering to different generations’ needs is crucial, ultimately, all employees would feel valued when offered benefits and workplace perks, showing them the company cares for them as people, not merely employees.

Hopefully, our article on the best workplace benefits for recent grads helped you out! Check out what more we have to offer here at HireNest.

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