As employers, we all want to have high performing, high achieving, motivated and engaged employees. In order for us to get to this, we need to make sure that we create a workplace that is, at the very least, pleasant to be at. Ideally, we want to make sure that the workplace, the culture and all the other benefits are in line with what our employees really want. If we can achieve this, only then can we expect our people to be engaged, motivated and wanting to come to work.
Our workforce is coming from different generations, and the bigger the organisation, the more variety there is. In smaller companies or start ups, the difference is usually much less, and people working in the stat up tend to be more or less the same age. The majority of all the current workforce, however, are Millennials – those born in late 80s and early 90s.
Why do I talk about different generations when talking about workplace, culture and benefits? If the company has great benefits, would those not suit all? Well, the short answer is no.
People from different generations have been brought up in different times, so the values that were established at those times have also become their values. For example, for the generation of Baby boomers stability and security was the most important, so they would choose jobs that gave them that stability and security. Things like career progression and constant development weren’t on their priorities list. They would choose job opportunities that allowed them to stay either in the same job or the same company for a long period of time, with the secured contract and benefits that would add to that security, like Life Insurance, Pension and Long term sickness cover.
Generation X, on the other side – those born roughly between 60s and 80s – have some difference in values. They also value job security and good pension plans, well matched by the employers, but the salary level and work life balance are also extremely important to them. Generation Xers are achievers and are interested in progression within the company and are well up for climbing the corporate ladder.
The next generation, generation Y, or Millennials, have very different set of values all together. They value the ability to have a choice what benefits they can have. This generation is all up for doing what they love or at least enjoy, and this is a great plus for the employers, because if we are hiring someone from generation Y, the chances are they are devoted to what they are doing 100%. And, if what they are doing at the moment does not interest them anymore, they just move on refusing to waist their time and yours. They are driven by what they believe in and eager to learn, grow and develop themselves.
Millennials do absolutely value salary level, but they also value flexibility and ability to have control over their schedules. They want to be able to decide when they work and when they play and, in the world of technology that allows us to be present at the meetings and communicate with people across multiple countries and time zones, it is well justified.
It is also a generation of travellers and globetrotters, so being able to work remotely and having enough of paid time off is on the top of their priorities.
Being a millennial myself, I can truly relate to all of the above. And yes, it does seem like our generation is much more demanding towards the employers, but we honestly are relatively easy to please. Here are some ideas of what you can implement into your organisation to make this generation happy.
Continuous Learning and Development
Millennilas want to learn, grow, develop and progress personally and professionally. Having a variety of courses that you can run in-house or a list of training programs you can send them on to, would benefit both parties greatly. This generation wants to grow as much as possible, that is why training and career progression is one of the things they pay attention to when looking for the job.
Millennials have a desire to do what they want to do, when they want to do and where they want to do it. Designers, developers, engineers and creatives – just to name a few – don’t want to be tied to the desk 9-5 Monday to Friday. And why should they? Especially if they deliver great work and on time, but rather working evenings, late nights or odd hours during the day? I still remember a designer that I worked with in one of the agencies. He was amazing at what he did, his work was outstanding, but he could never do his work during the standard office hours. He was not a morning person, so he would arrive to the office by 11-12 at the very best and then he would spend the other half of the day chatting to people. His most productive and creative time was late evening – that is when he was at his best. After months of trying to make him to abide to the standard office hours we gave up and let them work flexibly. It was the best decision we have ever made. We gained a happy and loyal employee, who does amazing work and who our clients absolutely loved and he had the opportunity to work when he felt he was at his best and could produce amazing results.
Social and Off Site events
Millennials are sociable creatures and love the opportunity to have some fun. They like to work hard, but also to play hard, so putting a card behind the bar once a month will give the opportunity for everyone to get together, relax and have some fun.
Besides showing your team that you value them and appreciate their hard work, this is a great recruitment strategy. Your employees are your best ambassadors and recruiters, so organise a fun active day out, a dance lesson or a ski trip, and you will kill two birds with one stone – happy employees, who are most likely will want to share what a great company they are working for. You will also save some time and money on doing additional team building exercises.
More Paid Time Off
Millennials love to travel, they love adventures and discovering new places and trying out new experiences. As a part of the benefit package offer them a generous time off. On a grand scheme of things 2-3 additional days will m=not make a huge difference to your organisation, but will make a huge difference for a millennial, for who it means a possibility of a new weekend away. Even if your company has a set days of holidays and you are not able to change this, you can add small things like a day off for a birthday or working half day every Friday during Summer.
More and more companies these days offer unlimited holidays for their employees. From the first sight it does sound a bit scary and the first thought that comes to mind is that we are not going to have anyone at work, as everyone will be on holidays all the time. In practice, it works quite the opposite. Giving employees responsibility over time and schedule of their projects and their time off and workload, they are more motivated to get the work done, knowing that they can take the time off afterwards, so the productivity increases.
Health and Well Being
Millennial are very health conscious generation and would like to take care of their health – both physical and mental. However, even though the majority of generation Y is quite educated on the topic, not all of them have the knowledge or the ability to live a healthy life style. Perks like free or subsidized gym membership will go a long way. You can also try and arrange classes outside during the warmer months or organise an office running club. If you want a bit of healthy competition, arrange football, volleyball or softball games between the departments for example and the winners would get something great as a prize – a lunch out maybe.
When thinking about well being, don’t forget about mental health as well. The percentage of people suffering from depression is the largest within millennials. Think about offering benefits that promote good mental health, like meditation classes, yoga for stress relieve and also counselling support when needed.
I would also recommend to look at the Health Insurance that you offer and see if you can arrange for it to be more flexible, so your employees can choose what they need a cover for. Dental insurance is one of the priciest, but one of the most desired among the employees. Having a cash plan in addition to the medical insurance is also a great option, as it might cover areas insurance doesn’t.
These are just a few ideas that you can have a think of, but as a starting point I would suggest to ask your employees first and see if there is something in particular that the majority of your people would like to have and start with this. You can do a benefit survey and this way you will have an idea what your employees want, so you have more or less an idea what to look for.
Besides all the benefits that you can offer to your employees as a part of their package, don’t forget about what seem like little things, but matter the most: have open communication with your employees and be as transparent as possible, give effective and continuous feedback – have regular catch ups with your reports and your team, recognize and reward good job – most of the time simple ‘Thank you, great job!’ or ‘Well done!’ is enough and treat your employees with respect and empathy. This is a great start for creating incredible workplace.