HR Predictions: Rethinking Employee Benefits in 2017

Paid Family Leave

Only a few weeks remain in 2016, and as we look to the next year, there is no denying it’s a truly dynamic time for HR professionals. We work in an environment that is constantly changing and filled with new opportunities to enhance the way we lead and manage our most important asset, our people.

Today, business leaders are faced with a challenge those who have come before them have never encountered – assimilating five different generations into today’s workforce and leading teams comprised of individuals with unique priorities, interests and expectations.

Generation Z is stepping foot into the workforce for the first time, millennials are settling down and starting families, and baby boomers are faced with the responsibility of caring for elderly family members. While the priorities may be different, the theme is the same: when you hire an employee, you employ the whole person, including their family, their health and their interests.

As we look to next year, the major HR trends I see will be surrounding rethinking employee benefits. Retirement benefits were en vogue across workplaces in the 80s, but today, employees are thinking less about the future and more about the now. Their mindset has shifted to how employers can help them maximize their time with family or to pursue individual experiences, as opposed to emphasizing retirement benefits and pensions.

Here’s how we anticipate that mindset shift will affect HR in 2017:

Paid Family Leave

Today, we’re realizing a gap in the family leave laws concerning who is covered and who is paid. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offers job protection, but it is unpaid and only offered for up to 12 weeks. Currently, only 12 percent of employees (via United States Department of Labor) have access to paid leave, which tends to be offered by technology and financial services companies as well as some businesses located in California and on the east coast.

An emerging trend across organizations that is gaining increased traction is placing more emphasis on paternity and family leave. Millennials who are starting families are pushing employers to acknowledge the importance a father plays in raising and bonding with their child, and on the flipside, Generation X and Baby Boomers are caring for ill family members and require additional leave to support their time away. California was the first state to implement paid family leave, which has also spread to the corporate level. Deloitte is now offering employees up to 16 weeks fully paid of family leave to support range of life events like maternity and paternity leave, elder care and aid for sick family members and partners.

Unlimited Vacation – The Ultimate Flexible Benefit

When surveyed, many employees reveal that a top benefit they look for when considering a role is the amount of vacation offered. Surprisingly, studies have shown that while employees earn 20 days off, the majority only use 16 of those days. Employees today are using a full work week less than they did in 2000, and it’s having a major impact. Work expectations and demanding schedules are causing employees to take less time. As a result, employees miss three notable events a year and only 38 percent of employees feel supported to take time off.

A handful of employers are trying to reverse this trend by offering flexible unlimited vacation opportunities for employees. Unlimited vacation empowers employees to decide what to do with their time off while ensuring that the necessary work is completed and the absence is not damaging. Experts analyzing this trend believe that employees are motivated not to let their peers down or to damage their own career by misusing the benefit. While unlimited vacation is not for every company or environment, look for more organizations to consider this benefit.

Flexible Hours

We’ve all experienced it – sick family members, an unexpected doctor’s appointment, or an emergency home repair. Life happens and employees are looking for employers to be cognizant of responsibilities outside of the office. I can’t recall an interview where I wasn’t asked about our company’s expectations concerning work time commitments and the flexibility we offer. The question for HR is how to encourage flexibility for employees and how to teach managers to embrace flexibility to attract the best talent. Consider implementing work from home or flexible hours policies to help employees balance work and home life.

Freelance Economy

A growing trend that will affect even more businesses in 2017 is the “gig” or freelance economy. Work or “freelance gigs” are being organized into a variety of arrangements that can easily be bid on by a variety of freelance or consulting positions. One out of three millennials currently freelance, and by 2020, the Bureau of Labor predicts that 40 percent of American workers will be independent contractors. In areas of specialized skills, those types of talent are looking for freelance opportunities and organizations will be tasked with offering the same type of flexible arrangements for employees that freelance positions receive.

While many trends are affecting the HR industry, we as leaders have a real opportunity to challenge the status quo to enhance our employees’ experience. How do we disrupt the typical routine? Emerging trends are driving us to look at the employee experience in new ways and to listen to consider our people in everything we do.

About the Author:

Karen Crone is Chief HR Officer at Human Capital Management company Paycor.

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Customer Support and Millennials: What You Need to Know!

Written by Evan Oeflein | Originally published at AnswerDash 

millennial_cio

Millennials are the future! You’ve likely heard the phrase countless times and for good reason: if businesses learn to treat millennials well now, they can protect that relationship for years to come. Here’s what you need to know about millennials and customer service.

With recent counts hovering around 77 million, millennials make up about one-fourth of the US population and are a rapidly growing segment of the American economy1. Combined, they wield around $2.45 trillion in annual buying power2, which makes them a valuable market and an important customer base for any business. With their substantial importance now and eventual economic dominance, it’s crucial that businesses learn to meet their needs and preferences as much as possible. However, knowing what they want isn’t always easy — they are very different from Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Knowing these differences is an effective competitive edge.

The key difference when interacting with millennials is primarily in how they expect to be treated and via which channels.

Millennials are extremely self-reliant, with almost 40% of them first checking a company’s FAQ page when they have a question3. If they can’t find an answer there or their needs go unmet, four out of five millennials choose to use social media for customer service instead of through web, phone, or online chat channels4. In fact, when contacting a company, most millennials use Facebook almost twice as often as the second-most used social media, Twitter4. An important side note: nearly 25% of millennials expect to get a response on social media within 10 minutes, which can be a difficult demand to meet for many businesses4. Failing to meet expectations like these can result in unhappy millennial customers and could hurt your business.

So what steps can you take to mitigate potential issues and cater to your millennial customers?

First things first: don’t make them call customer service. Make sure they can find answers on your website as easily as possible. Consider a self-service solution to help them help themselves, so they don’t need to reach out to you with problems or issues in the first place!

To drive this point home, here are a few things millennials would rather do than call a support line and sit on hold:

  • 34% would rather have their teeth cleaned4
  • 32% would rather go shopping on Christmas Eve4
  • 26% would rather go to the DMV4

Second: Bend over backwards for your millennial customers! It’s common practice to be accommodating and helpful with any customer, but 22% of millennials say that one bad experience is enough for them to leave a brand for good5. Just a heads up that this can also include boycotting a service, with nearly a quarter of all millennials saying they would be willing to boycott a company after just one bad experience4! Yikes. And with the rapid growth of e-commerce businesses, it’s not difficult for them to leave you and shop with competition. In many ways, your relationship with them now is tied to the future success of your business: once they find a company and product they like, 80% of Millennials will keep going back6.

Whatever your approach to customer support, understand that  millennials expect to be able to find what they need themselves. If they can’t, they don’t want to spend time waiting around for you to answer them (they’d rather go to the dentist, remember?), so get back to them quickly! They’re expected to eclipse Baby Boomers in spending power by 2018, at $3.39 trillion annually7, and will make up even more of your customer base.

Since 64% of millennials feel greater brand loyalty than their Baby Boomer or Generation X parents 8, they’re more likely to stick around if you give them the support they crave! Millennials are the future and they will remember everything you do for them now.

To learn how you can help your millennial customers help themselves, take a peek at our website self-service eBook “How to help your customers help themselves”.

Sources:

(1) 2014, Millennial Consumer Report, Nielson
(2) 2014, Millennials Drive Social Commerce, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
(3) 2015, State of Service Report, Salesforce Research
(4) 2015, Customer Survey: Results & Analysis, Desk.com
(5) 2015, Millennials Research Study, Aspect
(6) 2010, 8095 Exchange: Millennial Whitepaper, Edelman Digital
(7) 2010, Gen-Y Financial Services Survey, Oracle
(8) 2014, Millennial Brand Loyalty, Adroit Digital

Source: Customer Support and Millennials: What You Need to Know!

3 Secrets to Make Your Small Business Job Ad Stand Out

Diversity-in-the-Workplace

Small business recruiting is tricky. Somehow, small business owners have to work with very little resources to get good employees in the door. Add to the mix a sea of competitors who are bigger, have larger budgets and likely employ recruitment experts to do their bidding and you’ve found yourself in a small business recruiting dilemma. Without big names and big money, small businesses have to be more creative and strategic with how they write job advertisements.

These three secrets will keep small businesses on the right track when writing job ads.

Secret #1: Job ad is not synonymous with job description

For decades, mind-numbingly detailed job advertisements were just a simple copy of what the official company job description was. Formulating job advertisements that bring in top quality candidates who also fit into your company culture starts with clearly describing the summary of the company in an interesting way — not rambling on about meticulous and, let’s be honest, limiting job “requirements”. What our predecessors failed to see was the power of a customer-centric approach to recruiting. Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace, explains the power behind job ads:

Your job ads reach a lot more people than just folks who might actually apply for the job. They reach people who have job-hunting friends, and they reach your customers and prospective customers too. You’re marketing to the entire community in a job ad, the same way you are in your customer-facing marketing campaigns.

The kind of job ads that will attract quality employees are those that depict what it’s really like to work for you, the company culture, the team atmosphere and the passion that goes into the work you do. Job advertisements are a public representation of your brand, so it should be compelling to read, not exhausting.

  • To do: Save the job description for internal purposes. If you’re bored reading it, chances are so will potential candidates. Start thinking about how you want potential candidates to perceive your brand and try to work that messaging into job ads.

Secret #2: Sell the career, not the job

While a breakdown of the job requirements is a must for guiding the right candidates in your direction, job seekers today are looking for experiences. Gone are the days where job security and compensation were all it took to snag candidates. Those things are still important and should be one element of the job advertisement, but what should be emphasized even more is the potential for career development, advancement and the chance to work on a collaborative, supportive team. A successful job ad should also fulfill these three requirements:

  •      Inspire the right candidates to apply
  •      Improve performance of all recruiting efforts
  •      Build brand awareness and affinity

Interestingly, a recent study done on the psychology of job ad verbiage revealed that, “ads focusing on what employers can provide job seekers — like work autonomy, career advancement and inclusion in major decisions — result in better employee-company matches. And these ads produce larger numbers of more qualified applicants.” The authors explain that these kinds of ads garnered three times as many high-quality applicants as ads focused on what the company needs from the candidate.

  • To do: Avoid long lists of job requirements and instead craft job ad verbiage around what a day in the life of this person would be at your company. Discuss the day-to-day tasks with active language and don’t forget to mention how they can flourish at your small business. Small businesses typically provide more freedom for growth and development than large corporations so tell them that!

Secret #3: Consider all generations in the workforce

In 2015, Millennials surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce. While the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers phase out, Gen X becomes the new Baby Boomer and Gen Z gets ready to overtake the Millennials, employers are left with recruiting a multi-generational workforce. The good news: these working generations have more in common than we give them credit for. One of the most important stereotypes to debunk is whether mobile responsive job ads are needed to attract Baby Boomers. Almost half (48%) of Baby Boomers look for job postings on their phones. Keep in mind, they need to be easy to read and easy to follow because although 22% believe they are tech-savvy, HR says only about 6% of the generation understands modern technology.

  • To do: Create job advertisements that attract all generations with the following in mind:
    • Honesty – 35% of employees in every generation value ethics and fairness in leadership as a top trait an employer should have. Show it by mentioning in the job ad how your workplace values fairness
    • Meaningful Work – 30% of Millennials and 27% of Baby Boomers look for an organization that assigns meaningful work.
    • Flexibility – Although flexibility is typically valued most by Millennials (30%), 22% of Baby Boomers still look for flexibility in the organizations they work for.

Small business recruitment might not be a cakewalk, but that’s what experts are here for. These secrets will help small businesses learn how to write effective job ads that are going to catch the attention of the right candidates and ultimately, make your small business successful. For many small companies, job ads are one of the only forms of recruitment they engage in so make it count!

About the Author

Joe Weinlick Headshot for WordPressJoe Weinlick, President of Marketing with Beyond.

Joe is the entrepreneurial marketing leader and brand strategist with a unique mix of strategic, creative, operational, and technical abilities.

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