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Via Biz Journals : How to communicate your employee benefits plan to millennials

Is your organization struggling to communicate effectively across the multiple generations in your workforce? Have you tried face-to-face meetings, glossy printed booklets, emails, apps, games – and still feel like you come up short?

Rest easy: you are not alone. I’ve heard repeatedly from senior leadership and benefits managers alike: we’re trying, but we just can’t reach our millennials.

What was once a balancing act with your budget and your time is now a juggling act that takes even more resources and talent to execute effectively. Employee benefits comprise roughly 30% or more of the total rewards package at most companies. It’s vital to help employees understand and appreciate the value of benefits programs that provide financial, physical and emotional security to them and their families.

Not only is it important to you, the employer who is footing the bill. It’s important to your employees as well. Decisions they make today will impact their lives for decades to come. In many instances, they lack the knowledge and experience to analyze benefits offerings effectively and make good decisions. They are counting on you, the employer, to not only provide the needed programs, but also deliver the tools to evaluate them and make the best choices. You face pressure on both sides of the equation – an unenviable position.

Most employers remain befuddled by their millennial cohort. This group, currently ages 24-36, comprises up to 24% of the workforce at present. They embrace technology and crave interaction. They are the most educated and multi-cultural generation in history. Yet they rely on their parents and friends for financial advice and routinely demonstrate their distrust, if not disdain, for financial and other institutions. While they are tech savvy, and very skilled at seeking the information they need, they deeply desire personal relationships – in their families, their communities, and their workplaces. They value authenticity, creativity, celebrity – and connect intensely when all three are merged. They connect to their philanthropic causes and support them in both words and deeds.

Will the real millennial please stand up?

Millennials have been negatively impacted by the turbulent events in their youth: 9/11 and the Great Recession are likely to be enduring memories. The after-effects of these events have been far-reaching for all generations, but particularly so for millennials, who early on struggled to find employment and “launch” their careers and their lives. Now, the economy has strengthened, and the job market has opened up.

Millennials are finding greater opportunities for financial success, as well as the personal fulfillment and meaning they value so much. Their story is still being written, but employers need to carefully consider how to communicate with millennials and address their deep desires for consequence and connection in the workplace, as well as the world beyond.

Millennials report that they save more money than their seniors. 81% of millennials say they save money regularly, compared with 74% of Gen Xers and 77% of baby boomers. But their perceived levels of financial savvy don’t match their actual knowledge base. According to a George Washington University study, only 8% of millennials demonstrate a high level of personal financial education and 25% comprehend the basics. However, 70% of millennials believe they have a high level of understanding of financial products and services.

Think about your company’s retirement savings program. Is half of your millennial population saving for retirement? Nearly 50% of millennials report they are accumulating for retirement. If true, this means more than half are not. These young people state that they are hamstrung by debt: student loans, car loans, credit card debt. How will you communicate with them, motivate them to start some level of retirement savings now, and help them understand the important value proposition your organization provides in helping them to build for their futures?

Millennials don’t trust the mail

To whom do millennials turn for financial advice and assistance? This is a bit of a surprise: Family and friends are their main sources of information and insight. They do not trust information from financial institutions. Their preferred communication channels are, in order: email, text, a website they can interact with, and, of course, a mobile app that functions across multiple devices.

Please do not waste your money sending them materials in the mail. It will most likely end up in the trash. Online apps, text message reminders, games and competitions, these are the tools that resonate with today’s younger population of workers.

One strong advantage these tools offer is the ability to track usage and generate reporting for your senior management. This type of data can show your leadership that your efforts are working and that millennials – and other generations as well – do participate and better engage with your programs.

So how do your providers communicate with your employees? How do you assimilate information from multiple service providers, and then present it, so that all of your employees will understand? Clearly, fancy paper packaging does not appeal to the millennial cohort of your employee population. And the safe, sound financial institutions into whom your silent generation employees place so much confidence will not gain the interest, much less the trust, of millennial employees, without thoughtfully repackaging all educational material into some type of technology interface.

Via Summer of Tech : Five Reasons Why You Need an Internship: advice from Summer of Tech Intern Nanda Hibatullah

1. Experience

The experience you gain from an internship is crucial in guiding you through the rest of your career. Gaining experience through an internship shows future employers that you are capable at the skills you claim on your CV which will give them a better idea of who you are. It show that you have the people skills to score an internship and will generally make future employments, especially a grad role, easier.

2. Learning

You learn on-the-job skills that would have never been taught at university. The main point of university is to teach you how to learn. Most courses brush on things and force you down a direction of ‘memorising’ things for an exam. This is not the case in the workplace. You learn things that interest you and things that progress you further in the field you are in. Most of all, you get rewarded from your learning much better than at university through peer acknowledgement, self satisfaction in your work, and you also get paid.

3. People

An internship introduces you to new people. This is awesome if you are on the extroverted side of things but don’t worry, this is also good for those of you on the introverted side. With a bunch of new people in the company, there is a high chance for the diversity in the people there, that means there will surely be someone you can connect with. Most people are very friendly and approachable and are there to help. They know you are new and that’s okay. Meeting new people also expands your personal network. This is beneficial for meeting potential new employers that you might want to work with in the future, or if you want someone to geek out about Stranger Things with.

4. Career

Like I said earlier, an internship will guide you through the rest of your career. It pretty much is the start of your career. Some companies in Wellington will offer you a permanent full time role after your internship and that ends up being your grad role! This is the case for myself. Some companies might keep you on part time if you still need to study until you are done and can work full time. Some might not do any of these things but will open so many doors for you in the future. You might even decide that the field you intern in is not for you. That’s okay, in fact, that’s good! You get that opportunity to experience that with pretty much no consequences and shift the direction of your career if need be!

5. Money

YOU GET PAID! Time to start earning some money and stop being a poor student. For most of you an internship will be your first real job. With Summer of Tech putting strict rules on a $20/hr salary, you get to live the good life. Over the Summer at least.

Via INC : The Happiness Value Of Work-Life Balance

There’s more to work-life balance than hours spent at home and at work.

The 2017 World Happiness Report reported that work-life balance is now one of the strongest predictors of happiness.

Unfortunately, more than half of Americans are dissatisfied with their work due to a lack of work-life balance. In the majority of cases, this is because workers feel overworked and underappreciated, with little control over their own lives or schedules.

Work-life balance and flexible work options have stepped in to improve job satisfaction and the overall happiness and health of employees.

In many cases, work-life balance means not being confined to a 9 to 5 timetable or an inflexible schedule. This kind of rigidity always prioritizes work before all else. Work takes up that chunk of the day no matter what else is going on in life.

This can throw off the desired “balance” that makes individuals happier, freer, and more productive.

Work-life balance is about expending energy to various parts of life: work, family, friends, health, and personal growth. This “balance” of well-roundedness and wholeness in life innately begets a sense of purpose, belonging, and happiness.

1. Work-life balance prioritizes social time.

Social interaction is one of the biggest predictors of happiness. The more time spent with people, the happier you’ll be. Studies have shown that social interaction is directly correlated to a person’s sense of belonging and joy.The World Happiness Report stated that “social capital” is a moderate predictor of happiness. This means that we need to be social in order to be happy, both inside and outside the office.

Work-life balance provides more time to spend with family and friends. You can better schedule your work around your life. With flexible work, you can take a Tuesday afternoon off to see your child’s soccer game and talk to the other parents at the game. You can make up the necessary work later that evening, the next morning, or over the weekend. You have the flexibility to prioritize people over projects when need be.

This actually improves productivity. Work-life balance encourages social collaboration, which leads to increased creativity, ideas, and productivity.

2. Flexibility enables a greater focus on health.

Health is the foundation to happiness and productivity. If you don’t have a healthy mind and body, you can’t work at peak capacity.

The 2014 National Study Of Employers from the Families and Work Institute found that employees with flexible work options are more likely to have: less stress, better mental health, better physical health, and improved sleep patterns. They’re also less likely to negative spillover from home to job and vice versa.

This is because they have the flexibility to prioritize the key “stressor” on their plate at any given time. If they have something going on at home, they can be present to handle it. If they have a big project at work, they can spend more time at work that week knowing next week they can take time off to be with their families.

Moreover, flexible work provides more time to focus on health as a key value. People can schedule doctor’s appointments and not have to worry about taking a day off of work. They can take time in the morning to workout, showing up to work later in the day when they’re more productive. They can take time off to recover from the flu and not infect everyone else in the office. Health can finally be a priority.

Flexible work allows individuals to take off when they need to, thus avoiding the $1,685 annual cost of absenteeism per employee. Flexibility also helps to prevent

Flex work options can also help workers avoid traffic, which is the number one cause of stress in our daily lives. People who don’t drive during rush hour have lower anxiety and stress levels with better overall health.

A healthy workforce lowers healthcare costs, improves safety of the workplace, and builds a high-performance workforce.

3. Self-scheduling balance improves autonomy.

The strongest form of work-life balance tends to stem from flexible work options that enable employees to pursue their own definition of “balance.” This naturally instills a sense of autonomy by putting the power of work-life balance in the hands of the worker.

Respondents of World Life Happiness Report stated that autonomy is directly linked to job satisfaction. The ability to control your actions and schedule impacts your happiness and efficiency levels. People who feel they have freedom at work are more engaged with their work overall.

4. Happiness at home produces happiness in the workplace.

There is an irrefutable correlation between personal and professional lives. Stress in one area bleeds out to stress in other parts of life. A study from Oregon University found that a happy home life begets happiness and productivity in the workplace as well.

If you want to be a happy person, you need happiness in all areas of your life. This happiness stems from living a work-life balance that aligns your values and priorities appropriately.

5. Happy workers are more motivated, engaged, and productive.

Workers who are happy are more satisfied with their lives and job. Studies show that even a short-term boost in happiness can lead to greater productivity. Long-term joy has profound effects on engagement and success in the workplace. This productivity can provide a huge return for the business.

Moreover, this motivation and productivity, in turn, leads to a higher level of employee loyalty. This increases retention rates and reduces costs associated with turnover retention. It also leads to a reputation boost for organizations. The greater number of happy employees you have, the better your company appears to the customer.

Ultimately, work-life balance and flexible work options create happy employees and a positive work environment. This translates to improved productivity, greater employee loyalty and engagement, greater bottom lines, and a stronger definition of success for employees and organizations alike.
It’s time to start demanding autonomy, flexibility, and happiness in your work.

Via The Balance Careers : How to Improve Workplace Satisfaction for Employees

Before you can improve employee satisfaction and employee engagement, you need to know what to improve. The annual Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2016 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey identifies the factors that are important in employee job satisfaction and employee engagement as perceived by employees.

The survey’s purpose is to assist employers to develop the right programs and practices when they seek to have an impact on these two factors that are critical to employee morale and motivation.

Understanding employee preferences provide guidance for the knowledgeable allocation of resources.

Otherwise, employers can spend thousands of dollars on programs and practices that their employees actually don’t want. And, here’s a secret you need to know aside from these official survey results which provide guidance.

You will learn the most about what will engage and satisfy your employees by asking them what they want the most. Then, as you can, reasonably accommodate and provide what they are seeking. Your workplace will flourish when employees meet their needs.

The Employee Satisfaction Survey

The survey explored 35 aspects of employee job satisfaction, divided into four topic areas—career development, relationship with management, compensation, and benefits, and work environment. Added in 2011, the survey also explored employee engagement.

Satisfaction Survey Results

According to this study,

  • 88% of U.S. employees report that they are overall satisfied with their current job. This is the highest level of satisfaction reported in the past 10 years.
  • The U.S. has a problem with employee engagement. U.S. employees reported that they were moderately engaged averaging 3.8 on a 5 point scale where 5 is highly engaged and 1 is unengaged.
  • “2016’s leading job satisfaction contributors include respectful treatment of all employees at all levels, compensation/pay, benefits and job security.”

Findings by the Gallup organization about disengaged employees were highlighted in the Wall Street Journal. Gallup found 19% of 1,000 people who were interviewed felt “actively disengaged at work”.

These workers complain that they don’t have the tools they need to do their jobs. They don’t know what is expected of them. Their bosses don’t listen to them.

Top 10 Contributors to Employee Job Satisfaction

Employees identified these factors as their top 10 most important contributors to their job satisfaction.

  • Respectful treatment of employees ranked first (67%) on the list of job satisfaction aspects that contribute to overall employee satisfaction.
  • Compensation and pay ranked second (63%).
  • Overall benefits were third (60%).
  • Job security which ranked first for employees during earlier surveys had sunk to fourth (58%) possibly because economic times have improved.
  • Trust between employees and senior management (55%) tied with:
  • Opportunities to use skills and abilities in your work (55%).
  • Financial stability of the organization (53%) remains important to employee satisfaction and is tied with:
  • The employee’s relationship with his or her immediate supervisor (53%).
  • Feeling safe in your work environment (50%) as manifested in feeling physically safe, with employers taking measures to prevent violence in the workplace and acts of terrorism.
  • Immediate supervisor’s respect for your ideas (49%).

Ranked 11-20 on the survey: the work itself (it is interesting, challenging, exciting, etc.) (48%), management’s recognition of employee job performance (feedback, incentives, rewards) (48%), communication between employees and senior management (48%), career advancement opportunities within the organization (47%), autonomy and independence to make decisions (46%), management’s communication of organization’s goals and strategies (45%), overall corporate culture (e.g., organization’s reputation, work ethics, values, working conditions) (44%), teamwork within department/business unit (43%), meaningfulness of the job (understanding how your job contributes to organization’s mission) (42%) and job-specific training (42%).

Generational Results

While Baby Boomers, Gen-X, and Millennials scored similarly in many areas related to engagement, they also exhibited some differences. According to the SHRM report,

“they value a few other aspects of their jobs differently. Millennials (88%) placed greater importance on career development opportunities than Baby Boomers did (76%), for example, and members of Generation X (89%) more frequently cited organization’s commitment to professional development as a contributor to job satisfaction compared with Baby Boomers (79%).”

Workers in all three generations placed a high value on compensation and benefits related factors. Millennials placed more importance on job-specific training, career development opportunities, and career advancement as contributing to their job satisfaction compared with older generations.

This is not surprising given the stage of their careers, but employers need to notice that differences exist now that Millennials are the majority of workers.

Employee Engagement Conditions

Employee engagement, according to the SHRM report, is more likely to occur when certain conditions exist. Employers can maximize employee engagement via improving these factors.

The percentages indicate the overall satisfaction of employees with the listed condition of engagement. The items are listed in order from the employee survey results: most satisfied to least satisfied with the condition in their organization.

  • Relationships with co-workers: 77%
  • Opportunities to use skills and abilities: 77%
  • Meaningfulness of job: 76%
  • The work itself: 74%
  • Relationship with immediate supervisor: 74%
  • Organization’s financial stability: 72%
  • Contribution of work to organization’s business goals: 72%
  • Autonomy and independence: 71%
  • Variety of work: 69%
  • Overall corporate culture: 69%
  • Communication between employees and senior management: 64%
  • Organization’s commitment to corporate social responsibility: 63%
  • Management’s recognition of employee job performance: 63%
  • Job-specific training: 61%
  • Organization’s commitment to professional development: 59%
  • Networking: 58%
  • Career development opportunities: 57%
  • Career advancement opportunities: 42%

With the percentages noted in both the satisfaction portion of the survey results and the engagement aspects of the survey, employers have some work to do to fully satisfy and, especially, engage employees. Are you up for the challenge?

Note that four aspects of employee career and professional development fall in the bottom seven for employee satisfaction:

  • Job-specific training
  • Organization’s commitment to professional development
  • Career development opportunities
  • Career advancement opportunities

Via The Business Woman : Why you need to have a career plan

Career success isn’t an accident, and at a time when how we work is fundamentally changing it requires increased focus and planning. This isn’t the traditional 10 year plan that people did in the past.

Ditch the linear plan

In the past, people were encouraged to think of their career as linear, where they entered the workforce after school or university, explored a few roles, and then mid-way through their career landed something that kept them employed until retirement.

Careers, these days, are fluid, flexible, organic and adaptive – taking a degree of reinvention. This means that people need to adaptable, ready to continuously learn and be prepared to take charge of their career development and planning.

Gone is the notion of working in one organisation for life. Gone is the notion of one role type or function for life. Gone is the notion that someone will plan your career for you. Gone is the notion that you can sit back and just let your career happen.

Disrupt yourself

As Salim Ismail, the author of Exponential Organisations and an expert in helping organisations leverage technology and strategy to grow faster, said: “Today, if you’re not disrupting yourself, someone else is; your fate is tobe either the disrupter or the disrupted. There is no middle ground.”

While his comments were directed to organisations, they equally apply to workers.

Organisations – particularly large ones – undergo constant restructures and organisational change. Five years ago the cycle was a restructure every two years or so, while these days it can be as frequent as every 12 – 18 months.

There’s also the growing casualisation of the workforce as the number of people in part time employment rises faster than full time employment. While the ‘gig’ economy is seeing more and more people hired for short term, contract and project based assignments.

Tim Ferris in his best-selling book, The Four Hour Work Week, radically shifted how people think about work. He challenged the notion of the orthodox 9 – 5 working week, and how it’s the value you add rather than the number of hours you work that is more important. He showed the choices that people can make with their career.

If a person sits back and waits for other people to manage their career for them they will quickly get left behind. They’ll also miss out on the opportunity to design a career that works for them and matches their lifestyle and life goals.

Lead your career

Now more than ever workers need to be comfortable designing and orchestrating their own career path. They need to become the leader of their career.

Great leaders:

  • Set direction and take action to get there
  • Back themselves and seek to continually develop themselves – knowing there is always more to learn
  • Surround themselves with people who will help them get the job done
  • Know themselves and seek to understand others

The same goes with career planning and development. People who plan and lead their career:

  • Take time to actively plan their career. They set aside time to reflect on the goals they want to achieve, progress made and key next steps
  • Don’t wait for the organisation they work for to develop them. They see learning as crucial to future success and therefore constantly seek out new ideas and ways to stretch themselves
  • Have a deep and broad network which they are keen to continue to nourish and expand
  • See the acquisition of deep self-understanding and emotional intelligence as important as their technical skills

When it comes to career planning doing it right doesn’t mean there is only one way or one path to follow. It’s about being proactive and deliberate about the choices a person makes, to lead their career in the way they want to be led.