Tiny Homes, RVS and Millennials- What this all means to your employee benefit and engagement strategy

The demand for tiny homes and RVs is on the rise. And millennials are driving these sales. As an article in USA Today stated,

Trailers, not motor homes, make up a large part of this growth, now accounting for 87% of the units sold, the association says. Buyers are likely to be Millennials, those in their 20s or early 30s, including a lot of young couples who don’t have kids yet….

For Buckles and many other first-time RV buyers, the focus is more on the short term. She and her husband Josh hope to use their new trailer to drive to barbecue competitions and enjoy the outdoors in her local area, which means that summer — and the freedom that comes with it — is just an RV purchase away.

And from thetinylife.com:

What are tiny houses? The tiny house movement? Tiny living?

Simply put, it is a social movement where people are choosing to downsize the space they live in. The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical small or tiny house is between 100 and 400 square feet. Tiny houses come in all shapes, sizes, and forms, but they enable simpler living in a smaller, more efficient space.

People are joining this movement for many reasons, but the most popular reasons include environmental concerns, financial concerns, and the desire for more time and freedom. For most Americans 1/3 to 1/2 of their income is dedicated to the roof over their heads; this translates to 15 years of working over your lifetime just to pay for it, and because of it 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

So what is the alternative? One solution might be to live smaller. While we don’t think tiny houses are for everyone, there are lessons to be learned and applied in order to escape the cycle of debt in which almost 70% of Americans are trapped.

The trend in different ways to live, travel and find leisure for younger Americans also points to trends in lifestyle preferences that are important for employers to take note of, especially when it comes to employee benefits that lead to engagement and retention:

  1. Keeping up with the Jones’ isn’t as much of a priority as it once was. This isn’t your baby boomer generation that desires above all else income and traditional benefits from their employer. This isn’t the day and age where employees are as concerned as previous generations about competing with the Jones to buy the two story house with the 2 car garage and 2.5 kids that a steady pay check and a climb up the corporate ladder can help facilitate.
  2. Experiences are extremely important. RVs allow us to get out and see the world. Tiny houses create a unique living experience for the owner. Millennials value experience and the flexible work arrangements that facilitate experiences.
  3. Debt is an issue. Many younger workers have racked up college debt that their parents and grandparents never would have imagined dealing with before they even started a career. As the cost of a college education continues to rise, it’s important to think about how the debt equation affects worker benefits and engagement.

With all these trends, employers would be wise to revamp benefits packages around them. This would include more flexible and experience-based work arrangements (for candidates and employees), packages that focus on helping to pay off college debt (even over retirement savings packages like your traditional 401ks), and al a carte benefit options that allow employees the flexibility to choose what they need when they need it.

Have you rethought how to revise your benefits structure to meet the needs of today’s worker?

Mary Ila Ward

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