In the war for talent, some companies will even help employees pay their student loans

Remember when companies offered college graduates a job with a few weeks of vacation, medical and dental insurance and a 401(k) plan? Well, those days are gone.

The millennials streaming into the workforce today, at companies both big and small, are expecting and getting benefits that baby boomers wouldn’t even have thought of — or dared ask for. Among them: pet insurance, paid volunteering opportunities and student-loan repayment help, just to name a few.

What’s more surprising is that millennials are even willing to take less pay for these benefits — a plus that puts many small businesses having difficulty making payroll each month back in the game to compete for great talent. According to the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey, 7 percent of the 2030 small businesses surveyed cite cost of labor as a critical issue.

Some companies are going even further to keep millennials happy and loyal. In 2016, Boxed, the online warehouse club, began paying up to $20,000 for employees’ weddings. (A year earlier founder and CEO Chieh Huang began footing the bill for his employees’ children to go to college — a generous perk for sure, but one appealing to his older workers.) Since the average age of his employees is right around the time most folks decide to marry, financial help for a wedding is especially appreciated, Huang says, and a great tool for retention. He claims fewer than 10 full-time employees have left Boxed voluntarily since it launched four years ago.

The companies offering these unusual perks are going this route for a few reasons. First, they’re doing it because the war for millennial talent in a low-unemployment climate makes finding and keeping the best workers that much harder. But perhaps more important, they’re realizing that while millennials value good health insurance and paid time off, they want their jobs to address the other aspects of their lives that matter to them, including the crushing debt that many carry from college loans and, of course, their pets.