This piece originally appeared on Millennial.
The issue between perks and pay is still debatable – especially with the rise of millennials in the workforce. As of 2015, they make up the largest chunk of the labor force, with 53.5 million workers, surpassing Gen Xers.
Unlike generations before them, millennials have a different mindset when it comes to work. Notorious for being impatient, narcissistic, and unreliable, the Gen Y (as they are often called) group is still much sought-after by both small and large companies thanks to their adaptability, unadulterated creativity, and passion.
However, it seems both parties are having trouble: while employers are wondering HOW to attract this top talent, millennials are anxious to FIND the right jobs that offer both perks and pay. But does this ideal even exist? If so, where can they be found?
Perks That Millennials Love
According to a 2015 survey by Glassdoor, four in five employees prefer additional benefits to an increase in pay. The top perks workers crave are healthcare insurance, vacation or paid time-off, followed by performance bonus. Non-monetary benefits that employees want include a retirement plan, employee discounts, and office perks like casual dress days or free lunches.
This coincides with company perks that millennials today want and expect from their employers. 64% of Gen Yers prefer a comprehensive benefits package that includes healthcare and retirement plans. Meanwhile, 32% say they are after flexible work schedules instead of the traditional 9 to 5. However, 40% of millennial respondents are okay with regular hours with some flexibility.
Among the top companies that offer great employee perks is Facebook, giving ad credits to donate to a worker’s charity of choice. Adobe personnel enjoy sufficient paid time-off opportunities on top of parental leave. Then there’s AirBnB, that generously offers employees $2,000 in annual stipend to travel anywhere in the world.
This all sounds generous, but can this really make up for a raise?
What About Pay
Recently in the U.K., more and more companies are offering perks at the cost of pay cuts. Overtime may be out in favor of free lunches, but politicians are looking into this issue as it affects all kinds of employees across all sectors. Home improvement retailing company B & Q for instance, will be offering a pay rise BUT with cuts to holiday pay and bonuses. This results in most staff losing out, especially those who have been employed at the enterprise for most of their working lives.
In fact, a study found that 85% of employees still prefer pay over office perks, particularly after the Holidays. Meanwhile, about 71% of respondents believe most businesses are simply jumping on the office benefits bandwagon – without giving it much thought or plan.
The belief that millennials seem to want perks over pay is overrated. In a Bloomberg article, most talented millennials may choose a cool workplace over entry-level pay simply because he or she needs the money right away. But after the daydream has worn off, many companies will see young, skilled workers jump ship to tech agencies, where they offer competitive pay along with perks that matter most.
For more about millennials in the workplace, watch this Fortune video:
One such perk that attracts top millennial talent by the dozen is college loan repayment benefits, currently being offered to about 3% of employees. However, experts say that this trend could rise, especially with companies looking into more ways to retain millennials in the workforce. Asset management company Natixis Global Asset Management is one of the few companies that are now providing this type of perk to its staff.
Perks AND Pay: It’s Possible
Perhaps the best thing about being a millennial is the opportunities available. Unlike previous generations, there’s no pressure to work at a single company for decades, or follow a single career path based on your major. Thanks to technology, millennials CAN get both perks and pay – it all depends on what you want to do.
One popular employment alternative today is freelancing. Instead of working for a boss, you now are your own boss. This means you’ll receive full payment for the services you render, and it’s up to you to make necessary contributions to your taxes, health insurance, etc. Working as a freelancer has amazing perks, especially for millennial parents as they get to stay home. The money isn’t bad either, as you can take in more clients to get more pay.
If you like lifestyle perks such as travel, another great option is to choose careers that require frequent trips such as becoming a tour guide, flight attendant, or cruise ship staff. These jobs may sound exciting, but they often require more work due to the dynamic pace of the industry. You’ll also need a lot of soft skills in the form of quick thinking, adaptability, and patience in dealing with all kinds of people from around the world.
What if you already have a job but you’re not happy with the benefits? Or you want to negotiate a pay raise but it seems to elude you?
Just because you’re currently working doesn’t mean you’re stuck at a dead end. Most people slowly transition themselves from having a full-time career to working as a freelancer. For example: those at the healthcare industry usually shift from their full-time positions to work as locum tenens due to the high stress involved in their jobs. Being a locum allows them to travel AND earn up to 50% more than what they are getting now. Just coordinate with your boss regarding your decision.
Other folks do side hustles or mini-jobs to earn extra money. Why not sell your extra stuff at a yard sale, baby-sit, craft cute accessories to sell at Etsy, write a blog, or bartend? Who knows, you may even discover a new skill or talent that you’d like to develop. This could lead you to pursuing a different career that you never have thought of!
The world may be getting smaller – but the opportunities have certainly gotten bigger. Think outside the box! Don’t be limited by what you see. When it comes to getting perks and pay, it’s not so much about the job as what you do once you’re in it. After all, if there’s one thing millennials are good at, it would be unbridled imagination.