What Employees Want: Hybrid Work and Flexibility

What Employees Want: Hybrid Work and Flexibility

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.

6 Ways to Reduce Burnout When You’re Understaffed

6 Ways to Reduce Burnout When You’re Understaffed

Question

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?

Answer

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

Benefits for a Multigenerational Workforce

Benefits for a Multigenerational Workforce

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.

 

Pros and Cons of the Gig Economy

Pros and Cons of the Gig Economy

Since the start of the pandemic, the gig economy has become more ubiquitous. Human Resources leaders need to understand the new kind of worker attracted to the world of gigs, and learn how to make that kind of non-traditional worker fit into their teams.

Some mistakenly believe that the gig economy, also known as the shared economy, only refers to on-demand jobs like driving for Uber or Lyft or making Amazon deliveries. However, it is also applicable to white-collar jobs. It’s becoming a solution for employees, who need more flexibility, and employers, who need talent during a historic labor shortage. The HR Exchange Network’s State of HR Report revealed that HR leaders hold flexible work culture as a top priority, second only to employee engagement and experience. Buying into gig work might be a way to address both those priorities.

What Is the Gig Economy?

“The gig economy is a free market system in which temporary, flexible jobs are commonplace and companies bring on independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees, and in many cases, for short-term engagements,” according to Embroker.

A look at the numbers demonstrates how important it is for HR leaders to pay attention and get up to speed on how this new kind of work arrangement could influence their business. By 2023, the global gig economy is expected to be a $455 billion industry, according to Harvard Business Review. Two million new workers joined the U.S. freelance workforce in 2020. In fact, one in three working Americans rely on freelancing for all or part of their income. Gallup estimates roughly 57 million Americans are gig workers, according to Forbes.

“The rapidly accelerating growth of the gig economy represents one of the most significant and all-encompassing challenges faced by Human Resources professionals,” according to SHRM. “The fundamental question is whether Human Resources can demonstrate the agility to lead the change in culture, programs, processes, and policies originally designed for work completed by full-time employees to a new era when more of the work is being completed by a talent portfolio increasingly represented by contingent workers (also referred to as gigsters, free agents, temporary help, agency workers, on-call workers, contract workers, independent contractors, or freelancers).”

Pros of the Gig Economy

Affordable Labor

A full-time employee requires a salary and benefits. You have to make hefty investments in training and career progression. Hiring an on-demand worker eliminates the need for all that. You pay them per project or on an hourly basis for as long as you need them. They usually can work remotely or only need to come into an office or place of business on a limited basis.

Specific Skills or Talents

Sometimes, you need an expert in an area for one or two projects and not on a regular basis. Being able to hire contract workers as you need them means you can look for exactly what you need at that moment. You don’t necessarily have to worry about well-rounded skills like you might with a full-time hire.

Flexibility

Freelancers and on-demand hires offer flexibility. Even if you’re renewing a contract with one of them on a regular basis, you only have to pay them for the work they actually do. You can turn to them when the work demands more help or when their particular service will enhance outcomes.

Cons of the Gig Economy

Carousel of Workers

Team dynamics can be hard to pin down when you are always working with different people. Even if you consistently work with the same freelancers, they are not bound by the same participation expectations as full-time workers. This can make it even more challenging to define a culture or help teams better collaborate.

Different Kind of Relationships

There’s more of a hierarchy when you are working with full-time employees. Managers and supervisors oversee their work and usually provide some sort of performance measurements to track their progress. With freelancers, you are their client. They are still working for you, but it changes the dynamic of the relationship.

This becomes most complicated with contingent workers, who work consistently for a company but without job security or traditional benefits. They do this for a number of reasons, including having more freedom over their schedules, being able to work for others, and being their own boss. As a result, the contract dictates their work more than the manager does. However, the manager or company could end up being a dissatisfied customer, and contingent workers can be let go at any time and you don’t have to prove they deserved to be fired.

Lack of Routine

If you’re working with a blended team – full-time employees and freelancers or contingent workers – you might have a hard time creating a solid schedule or routine for the group. Potentially you could still get the job done, but full-time employees might feel inconvenienced or maybe even a bit resentful. They have to be in one place for a certain amount of time, whereas their freelance counterparts are free to work on their own clock.

Obviously, there are pros and cons to the gig economy. But HR leaders can’t afford to ignore the fact that there is a societal shift toward this kind of workplace, where people have more freedom over their schedules, the kind of work they do, and even the relationship they have with employers. There’s still so much we have to figure out when it comes to the gig economy.

“Online gig work has grown increasingly common in recent years – and yet there’s still limited understanding of how to effectively support these non-traditional workers,” according to Harvard Business Review. “While gig workers can benefit from greater flexibility and autonomy than traditional employees, they also face unique challenges: less job security, fewer resources for career development, and often, a strong sense of alienation and difficulty finding meaning in their work.”

In fact, many reports have suggested that HR leaders in the future will provide access to resources regarding benefits like medical insurance instead of paying for it as they would for a full-time employee. Companies may begin to support co-working spaces to prevent isolation of their contingent or freelance workers. The point is that change is afoot, and HR leaders are paving the way for this new work paradigm.

By Francesca Di Meglio

Originally posted on HR Exchange Network

The Great Resignation

The Great Resignation

The employment market has taken the American worker on a roller coaster ride over the last year and a half. Unemployment rates hit record highs in 2020 with the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Nearly a year later, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey reports new jobs have increased to “a record 9.3 million, as the economy rapidly recovered from its pandemic depths.” To add another piece to the employment puzzle, nearly 4 million workers quit their jobs in the same month, coining the term “the great resignation.” What caused this dramatic exit? Many employees were spurred to reflect on their priorities during the pandemic and identified more free time as a key factor in their employment future.

As the pandemic spread last year, workers were forced to make arrangements of all types. Those on a temporary hiatus from the office scrambled to adjust to a work-from-home setup. Others who were laid off were pushed to conduct job searches in a market where jobs were few and far between. Additionally, families were pressed to juggle childcare and remote school arrangements with little to no warning. The changes were big and hard, but between all the hustle and bustle workers adjusted to this “new normal.” During that transition, many evaluated their prior work-life balance – more specifically, what was working and what was not. COVID-culture put priorities into perspective for many.

Americans experienced burnout at record levels during this stressful time and many came out of this period with a newfound respect for putting their mental health first. As “return to office” notifications landed in inboxes, many decided they were not willing to return to the office full time. A study conducted by Prudential, a global insurance and financial services firm, concluded that approximately 33% of Americans are disinclined to work for employers that aren’t offering remote work for a portion of their week. This introspection helped many workers see that their priorities needed to be rebalanced. Many wanted to spend less time commuting and working in the office, and more time on personal interests and with loved ones. This “aha” moment, coupled with a resurgence of new jobs in the market, led many to feel a newfound sense of confidence in finding a new opportunity. And that resulted in a dramatic shift in the number of employees choosing to leave their jobs, feeling they would find roles with more flexible work hours and supportive work environments.

There is no doubt we will continue to see fluctuations as our economy responds to this newly resurgent employee market. Employers can be proactive in retaining employees who may be evaluating their current work-life balance. Managers and Human Resource staff can engage with employees early and often. Don’t wait for your employees to raise a concern about workplace flexibility – lead the charge by looking into what your company can do to support this interest.

©2021 United Benefit Advisors, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Power of Praise

The Power of Praise

Think for a minute about all you have done today. Now, from that list of tasks, how many would you say you have done well? Again, from the list of tasks you feel you’ve done a good job on, how many were you praised for by your manager or even a co-worker? We all crave approval and praise from others in our life. The workplace is no exception. Praise motivates us to do well and to improve. Praise is necessary and praise is powerful. Follow these easy steps to build an effective habit of praise in your organization.

The WHY of Praise

Before we can get into the HOW of praise, let’s touch on the WHY. According to Gallup.com, “Recognition for good work releases dopamine in the brain, which creates feelings of pride and pleasure.” People want to feel like others see them and appreciate them. The praise-giver also receives benefits from this exchange. By giving praise, you get the same sense of satisfaction as you get when making a charitable gift or helping others. An environment of praise-giving is one where individuals work, not just to complete a task and be done, but they work to do a good job and to please their manager with hard work that is done well. Also, in terms of employee engagement, a manager who regularly praises their team, is one who is

The HOW of Praise

Giving praise is easy and, if you follow these simple tips, it is also an effective tool to motivate and encourage those in your workplace.

Make it QUICK

When you notice something that should be recognized with praise, do it immediately. The more time that passes between the event and the recognition, the less powerful the praise becomes. Make it a habit that when you see good work or good behavior, you stop what you are doing and give praise.

Make it SPECIFIC

Now that you have recognized the behavior or project that deserves praise, you’ll want to make the praise specific. Offering a vague compliment like, “You did good” doesn’t truly speak to the specific action that is praise-worthy. Instead, make your words of affirmation ones that point to a specific instance like, “The logo you created for the Milestone marketing project was clean and really inventive.”

Make it GENUINE

You may be tempted to adopt this new praise policy and start doling out compliments left and right like a praise shotgun, but, don’t. Disingenuous praise is almost as bad, if not worse, than no praise at all. You can tell if someone is making a forced comment or one that has no thought behind it. Instead, make sure the praise is given with a genuine heart and tone.

Create a CULTURE of praise

As you fine tune the act of giving praise in your workplace, your final task is to create a culture of praise-giving. When you build this culture, and everyone is actively involved in recognizing their peers, you will find the morale and engagement in your office is lifted higher. Increased morale and engagement also increase productivity, lowers absenteeism, and lowers turnover.

Praise is incredibly powerful. Praise has the power to motivate, encourage, and build. By following the simple tips outlined here, you can unleash the power of praise in your organization and in your life and reap the benefits to both the giver and receiver.