Today’s offices potentially span five full generations ranging from Generation Z to the Silent Generation. A coworker could just as easily be raised with a smart phone in hand as they could have used a typewriter at their first job. Some see differences between generational colleagues as an annoyance (“kids these days!”) and many rely on generational stereotypes as fact. Truth of that matter is that generational stereotypes have about as many holes in them as a piece of Swiss cheese. Current research questions the validity of generational stereotypes. This series uncovers top generational myths as a strategy to support a diverse and healthy employee population.
Next, we progress to a group whose eldest members reached adulthood in the year 2000: Millennials (also known as Generation Y). This cohort was born between 1981 and 1996. The top three myths of Millennials include:
- They are the laziest generation at work. Millennials have been called the “trophy” generation with the implication that they receive accolades for just showing up. The impression this leaves in the workforce is that they are lacking motivation to go above and beyond, and may be comfortable phoning it in. The data doesn’t support this critical generalization! Most Millennials are inspired by big, hairy goals at work. In fact, 59% of Millennials reported that competition is “what gets them up in the morning.”
- Millennial employees need life instructions on “adulting.” Children of the ‘80s and ‘90s were raised with a teacher, coach, or parent nearby to instruct or help them figure out a solution. For that reason, they often get labeled as incapable. This may lead you to believe that this generation is lacking smarts, and this couldn’t be further from the truth. Close to 40% of adults aged 25 to 37 have a bachelor’s degree, a percentage that overshadows both Baby Boomers and Generation Y at this same point in their life. Millennials are more educated and more technology savvy than prior generations. One sign of their life skills aptitude? Check out their retirement accounts. Dave Ramsey, personal finance guru, summed it up like this: “Even though Millennials have had less 20 years to build their retirement wealth, they are not that far behind many of those who are closest to retirement.” Yes, they may ask a lot of questions, but don’t let this fool you.
- They are job hoppers. They don’t commit to companies. They leave jobs at the drop of a hat. This tune may sound familiar because you have heard it before. A Pew Research study showed that when you freeze data for age, Generations X and Millennials had similar tenures at work. Workers in the first few decades of their career are more open to looking for new opportunities to explore new jobs and learn. The data show that this sentiment is more closely aligned with a stage in life that all generations have experienced. So, let’s give Millennials a break here. Just because they don’t intend to stick around at one company to receive a glass retirement plaque doesn’t mean they have any less value than other generations.
Despite what you may have heard, Millennials are hard workers with the know-how to quickly pick up new knowledge or skills. They value stability just as much, or more, than prior generations.
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2021 was quittin’ time in America. Last year alone over 47.4 million Americans quit their jobs. This year, employees seemingly have the upper hand against employers. The Turnover Tsunami, a.k.a. The Great Resignation, has forced a reckoning with the workplace and few employers have come away unscathed. Organizations are now shifting priorities to make employee well-being and retention the priority. The fact of the matter is, after health insurance, the most desirable perks and benefits are those that offer flexibility while improving work/life balance. So, what is it that employees really want to achieve a better work/life balance?
- Hybrid Work – Working remotely some days in the week and at a physical office on others
- Flexibility– Being able to occasionally shift hours that best fit an employee’s life
Why Hybrid Work?
In 2020, people had to change the way they worked overnight and turned their kitchen tables into a fully functioning office. Many employees discovered they were more productive at home. On the other hand, some miss the social nature of the office and working collaboratively in person. Because of these mixed perks of in office vs. working at home, hybrid work can offer the best of both worlds.
According to a survey by the International Workplace Group, 72% of office workers would prefer a hybrid way of working to a full-time return to the office – even if reverting to Monday – Friday routine meant earning more money.
Why Flexible Work?
When the workforce went home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it caused a change in the expectations of employees and therefore the way companies approach their work environments. The pandemic prompted job seekers to seek flexibility that allows them some level of control of their time. Gene Lanzoni at Guardian said “Time is the most important benefit an employer can provide. For many of us the pandemic afforded us more time, and we’re really not willing to give that back. We had a taste of a more balanced life.”
Balance has never been more important. 60% of families with children have both parents working and for these families, being able to work from home with flexibility is nonnegotiable. Flexibility can allow caregivers to log off from 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. and then come back and do some work after the kids are in bed. When employees have more control of their work schedules, they can free up time to take care of things that pop up in their personal lives – whether it’s running an errand, taking a child to the dentist, or being home for a delivery.
In the end, a flexible schedule contributes to a higher quality of life. Employees don’t have to put their careers on hold to focus on their families or education. This freedom is more valuable in the long run than a paycheck.
Worker retention is more important than ever in 2022. Building a good workplace culture based on the current interests of employees plays a significant role for the success of the company. Businesses now live in an employee-driven job market. It is essential that as an employer you know what benefits your employees value to keep them happy, healthy and working for you.
You’ve probably been hearing about the Great Resignation (or however you want to describe it) for months now. Even if you’re not dealing directly with increased turnover, your employees know they have options. Their friends, family, and people they know peripherally or on social media have made the leap and are gleefully announcing it on LinkedIn.
Some job-hoppers may be emboldened by the movement to quit good jobs in the hope of something better—better pay, more flexibility, or more opportunities for advancement. Some have simply been pushed to the brink by dead-end jobs, lousy company culture, or ineffective managers. Others have given up trying to “have it all” and left the workforce completely.
But what if employers could capitalize on this current “I quit” mood? If people are leaving jobs for something better, offer something better! Here are some ideas to create an engaged and committed workforce:
1. Understand and Be Responsive to Employee Needs, Motivations, and Priorities
A paycheck may be the reason everyone has a job in the first place, but it’s not the only reason people choose to work or decide to work for one employer over another. Your employees stick with you because there’s something in it for them besides the money. The job is useful to them. Knowing why it’s useful enables you to keep employees satisfied and, better yet, make their jobs even more appealing.
2. Prioritize Employee Development
A work environment in which people gain knowledge, learn new skills, and advance in their careers speaks more clearly and loudly than any marketing message can. People like working where they can grow and develop. According to a LinkedIn report, companies “that excel at internal mobility are able to retain employees nearly twice as long as companies that struggle with it.” And a better trained workforce is also a more productive and profitable workforce!
3. Reward Success
In fact, reward anything you want to see more of. Whether large or small, the rewards have to be meaningful. Ideally, figure out what type of reward speaks to each employee. For some, acknowledgment in a company meeting will make their heart sing. For others, receiving a token of your appreciation, such as a coffee gift card, will be more meaningful.
4. Allow for a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Flexibility is a big selling point for employees looking for better balance between work and life. Your employees have other commitments they need to attend to. Some are caring for young children or other family members while navigating daycare and school closures or multiple appointments. Give employees the time to see to those commitments and have a life outside of work, and you’ll get more from them when they’re on the job. Options may include remote or hybrid work, paid time off, flex hours, four-day workweeks, alternative schedules, and reducing workload. Remember, however, that policies are only as good as the practices around them. Ensure that employees don’t need to jump through hoops to request time off. Remind managers to be responsive to requests for time off and on the look out for signs that employees are feeling overwhelmed.
5. Conduct “Stay Interviews”
Don’t wait until people are leaving to investigate what could have inclined them to stay. Talk to employees now about what’s going well, what pain points they’re experiencing, and what could be done to take the relationship to the next level. Stay interviews enable you to address problems and unfulfilled wishes before they drive people out the door.
By Lisa DeShantz-Cook
Originally posted on Mineral
We’ve been both super busy and understaffed recently. Is there anything we can do during this time to help our employees avoid extra stress or burnout before we can hire more employees?
Yes. Here are a few things you can do to make this time run as smoothly and stress-free as possible:
Remove nonessential work duties: For the positions that seem most stretched, make a list of tasks that could be put on hold (or perhaps reassigned). You can invite input from employees, too, but I’d recommend acknowledging that they’re overwhelmed and saying that you’ll do your best to alleviate some of the pressure. Then hold off on nonessential tasks until business slows down or you’ve increased your headcount.
Allow for flexible scheduling: If employees need to work longer hours on some days during the week, consider allowing them to work fewer hours on other days of the week. Note that some states have daily overtime, spread-of-hours, or split-shift laws.
Budget for overtime: Employees may need to work extra hours to keep up with the current demands of their job, so allow them to work overtime if you (and they) can swing it. If you’re pretty sure overtime will be necessary, inform employees of that ahead of time, so they can plan accordingly.
Ensure all equipment is fast and reliable: It’s important to identify, troubleshoot, and correct any slow or nonworking equipment issues (such as laptops, internet hardware, cash registers, or vehicles). If not resolved, these issues can slow down work and add to everyone’s stress.
Look for ways to automate: Consider whether any of your employees’ manual and time-consuming tasks could be eliminated or simplified with the use of new or different technology.
Increase safety protocols: Employee absences related to COVID have created a significant strain for many employers during the pandemic. Shoring up your safety protocols may reduce the risk of COVID-related absences because of sickness or exposure. Depending on your circumstances, examples include improving ventilation, encouraging or requiring vaccination, requiring employees to wear masks, and allowing employees to work remotely when possible.
By Megan Lemire
Originally posted on Mineral
If only everyone valued the same things, benefits planning would be a lot easier. If. Only.
However, most employers have five generations of employees active in the workplace who want different things. With generation gaps spanning more than 75 years, finding a one-size-fits-all benefits package can be challenging. However, there are certain things to consider to tailor employee benefits for each generation.
The Five Generations in the Workforce:
- Generation Z: 1997-2012, (5% of workforce)
- Millennials: 1981-1996, (35% of workforce)
- Generation X: 1965-1980, (33% of workforce)
- Baby Boomers: 1946-1964, (25% of workforce)
- Traditionalists or The Silent Generation: 1928-1945, (2% of workforce)
Regardless of their generation, every employee wants traditional benefits like time off, healthcare insurance, and retirement planning. To create a benefits program with multigenerational appeal, employers should first think about their employees’ shared concerns and varying needs.
One strategy for managing multiple generation is customizing benefits offerings to core demographics. For example, would your staff value on-site child-care? Would a retirement plan that highlights the need for saving early or tuition assistance be relevant for your employees? Think about who your employees are and which benefits are most likely going to support their success.
Many employees are concerned about their financial wellness. Seven out of 10 new college graduates each owe $37,000 or more. These unprecedented levels of student debt make financial concerns a primary concern for Millennials and Gen Z. Gen Xers share financial concerns as they look to pay for their children’s education. While fear of not saving enough for retirement is a concern for all age groups, it is most concerning to Baby Boomers and Traditionalists for whom retirement is around the corner.
Gen X values benefits that support better work-life balance, such as caretaker support, flex time, well-being and support and financial protection. Meanwhile, Gen Zers favor benefits that support career growth, mental health and diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and perks that relate to job security, a key concern for this generation.
While every generation faces uncertainty at different stages of life, Millennials are more likely to purchase legal insurance compared to other generations. Many Millennials started working during a recession which has greatly affected how they view their long-term careers. Millennials have adopted an “anything can happen” mentality and are willing to pay for peace of mind to be financially stable.
To handle the unexpected, health, dental, vision and life insurance are all valued traditional benefits and are especially important to Baby Boomers and Traditionalists. Some Traditionalists and Boomers may not be full-time employees. Companies employing more of this generation of workers should offer some sort of wellness benefits like gym memberships or health services.
Beyond the core offerings like health care and retirement savings plans, employers can offer a menu of non-medical voluntary benefits that employees can select based on their individual needs. Those might include legal insurance, caregiver leave, student debt assistance or tuition reimbursement, on-site child-care, pet insurance, financial counseling, accident insurance and more.
Whether a Boomer or a Gen Xer, all employees want to feel confident and informed about their healthcare decisions. Quality healthcare that is accessible and affordable is a priority for all generations. Creating a customizable benefits experience that recognizes the diversity across the multigenerational workforce will likely result in employee retention and increased job satisfaction as well as making recruiting top talent easier. By focusing on communication, the benefits mix, and understanding what is important to each generation, your company may well be on its way to a successful benefits strategy.
Today’s offices potentially span five full generations ranging from Generation Z to the Silent Generation. A coworker could just as easily be raised with a smart phone in hand as they could have used a typewriter at their first job. Some see differences between generational colleagues as an annoyance (“kids these days!”) and many rely on generational stereotypes as fact. The truth of that matter is that generational stereotypes have about as many holes in them as a piece of Swiss cheese. Current research questions the validity of generational stereotypes. This five-part series uncovers top generational myths as a strategy to support a diverse and healthy employee population.
Let’s start with the greenest part of the workforce: Generation Z. This cohort was born between 1997 and 2012 and the elders of this group turn 25 this year. The top three myths of Gen Z include:
- Their interest in workplace flexibility is fueled by the desire for remote work. Workplace flexibility refers to how, when and where work gets accomplished. Historical literature pegs Generation Z as a group keen to choose when and where they complete their work. A recent survey completed by Annemarie Hayek, President and Founder of Global Mosaic, refuted this prior claim with data. It showed less than a third want a fully remote position. More exciting to Generation Z? Compensation and having their opinions heard by leadership.
- Mental health benefits fall into the “nice to have” category. Generation Z felt the effects of the pandemic mental health crisis and value quality healthcare. The National Institutes of Health study predicts that one third of today’s teenagers will experience mental health difficulties related to anxiety. Prior generations may hear “mental health” and think of fluffy wellness programs, but Gen Z sees it as so much more than a webinar on work-life balance. While this attribute is shared with Millennial colleagues, this group is more active in communicating their needs with managers and peers. No shying away from uncomfortable conversations here! Mental health was an ongoing conversation in their youth. For this reason, they are realistic about the hard costs and prioritize therapy and paid time off benefits.
- They are uncomfortable with face-to-face conversations. This generation was raised with technology at their fingertips and social media omnipresent, so many assume they rely on text for all professional communications. This common misconception does not pan out, says Ryan Jenkins, Inc. columnist and generational expert. Data shows that 84% of Gen Z favor live communication with their bosses. This group does not hide behind a screen in or out of the office. Generation Z was raised in an ever-changing sociopolitical environment that included school shootings, economic recessions, and increased focus on climate change. Because of this early exposure, they are comfortable activists, and they bring this social awareness to work.
Despite what you may have heard, the majority of Generation Z isn’t opposed to working in the office. They prioritize “hard” mental health benefits and prefer live conversations with their managers.
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