For business owners, it can be hard to attract and retain younger employees — especially when they are expecting and asking for more.
Google searches for the term “employee experience” have increased 130 percent over the past five years, according to a 2018 report published by IBM and Globoforce. The same study found organizations that scored in the top 25 percent on employee experience netted nearly three times the return on assets when compared to organizations in the bottom quartile.
Positive buy-in from employees means potentially more productivity and more revenue for the business; however, keeping employees happy can be difficult.
Many companies have gravitated towards a Silicon Valley, “work hard/play hard” mindset. In these environments employee perks help with retention. Many employees, however, want forward-thinking rewards from a company. These often include an environment that embraces gender equity and the ability to work on a flexible schedule.
Here are some things to consider to improve your bottom line this year by compensating your younger employees more creatively.
Offer a flexible schedule or telecommuting options.
Many employees don’t want a 9-to-5 workday. Allowing employees flexible schedules or telecommuting options may be seen as a good benefit to younger employees. Consider this if you have employees who are parents that are juggling daycare constraints. Or if your company is in a high-traffic city where commuting on off-peak times or telecommuting might be a benefit.
Even though 40 percent more U.S. employers offer flexible workplace options than they did five years ago, according to Global Workplace Analytics, only 7 percent make it available to the majority of their employees.
Upwork, headquartered in Mountain View, California, has “Work Online Wednesdays”. This perk allows their employees to work from anywhere as long as they are online. Blinds.com, a 150-person operation in Houston, allows call center employees to telecommute, as well as other staff members. Before employees began working remotely, Blinds.com set up training sessions to help employees learn how to maximize their home office productivity.
Have gender equity.
According to the “Winning the Fight for Female Talent” report by PwC, 50 percent of women say there’s a pay gap between equally qualified male and female counterparts.
Creating gender equity may help attract and retain key female talent. The report found three traits which make a potential employer more attractive to female employees: Being given fair and equitable compensation to their male employees, having opportunities for careers progression, and an atmosphere of flexibility and work-life balance.
Many companies are following this trend. Social enterprise firm Equileap pulled publicly available data from 3,000 companies around the globe across a variety of sectors with a market capitalization above $2 billion. General Motors was identified as one of only two global businesses with pay equality across the entire spectrum of business with no overall pay gaps in the company. It also has an equal number of men and women on its board of directors.
Consider on-site and off-site offerings.
On-site childcare, gyms, nap rooms, yoga and massage sessions are some of the additional perks companies are offering to attract and retain talent. Twitter offers acupuncture and improv classes to its employees. Blinds.com brought therapy dogs into their office to help employees during a stressful month.
If you don’t have options on-site, consider a stipend to help reduce the cost for your employees.
For example, Eventbrite offers its employees $60 wellness stipends that can be used for a variety of healthy options from juice cleanses to gym dues. Microsoft’s StayFit program reimburses employees $800 annually ($66.66 a month) for gym memberships and fitness programs.
Evaluate parental leave.
American millennials are taking a lead from their European counterparts, according to Forbes, and want paid maternity and paternity leave — the longer the better.
Birthing mothers typically receive an additional 6-to-8 weeks under salary continuation for medical leave. Breastfeeding moms also get access to a 24-hour lactation consultant. They can also ship their breast milk home for free if they are traveling.
Netflix takes a European-approach with one year of paternity or maternity leave for parents. They couple this leave with the ability for its workers to return to work on a full or part-time basis.
Give stash instead of cash.
Unscratched lottery tickets and gift cards are ways to reward positive employee behaviors without handing out dollar bills for a job well-done.
Sure Amazon and Starbucks gift cards are good standbys. But you should also consider other options – maybe a gift card for a car wash or a manicure. Experts suggest you ask your employees what they would value the most to to determine the best fit. Don’t assume you know.
Training and teaching.
SMBs don’t always have time to train their staff adequately, and employee development may be a key factor in retention. Consider offering to send an employee to a national conference or paying for Lynda.com training.
Offer to bring in guest speakers that employees would like to hear and then sponsor a lunch. Make this a reward to whoever does something above and beyond. Make it even better by allowing them to earn the right to choose the next speaker.
Bring your … to work day.
In the past many parents would bring their kids to work once a year. Now the “kids” want to bring their aging parents to work to show them what they do. They also want to bring their pets, kids, or significant others.
Cement-making Ozinga Bros in Mokena, Ill. and Cornerstone OnDemand, a cloud software company in Santa Monica, Calif. both allow employees to bring parents to work. The 22-person PR firm, EvolveMKD in New York skews towards Generation Z and Millennials and morphed its parents night into a family night.
Give the gift of time.
Personalized perks can make a big difference. Consider gamifying the options so once a week or once a month an employee earns a unique reward. Rewards could be anything from getting a longer lunch break or the ability to leave work early on a Friday. Or maybe it’s offering an hour or two of flex-time or the ability to work from home once a week.
The software company Salesforces gives employees seven paid days off per year to volunteer on the project of their choice. REI employees get two paid “YAY Days” a year to go outside and do something fun.
Regardless of what creative perks you offer, pick benefits that align with your company values and will make your employees feel appreciated which will help them to work harder and grow your business.