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PERKS, BENEFITS, MOTIVATION AND WHAT PEOPLE WANT

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Following in Facebook’s footsteps, Apple Inc. is about to start “selling” something new. The latest announcement from Apple is getting as much attention in some quarters as the latest iPhones and iPads. Steve Jobs might even approve, since the newest perk or benefit (choose your term), also made possible by technology, seems aimed at making it easier for women to stay working longer when they are likely to be most productive and reproductive.

I am referring to the new policy of offering to pay up to $20,000 for the expensive medical procedure for women to freeze some of their eggs in the hope of achieving pregnancy at a later date. I have raised the subject of pros, cons and motivations on social media. My purpose here is not to debate that, but rather to get us thinking about what benefits or perks people of different generations want, what the employers’ motivations for offering them are, and whether the offerings really motivate people to higher performance, retention and loyalty. 

The Apple announcement quickly generated articles in major business media (New York Times and Forbes, for example and TV political talk shows)) about the specific egg freezing perk and what could be downsides of generous perks as well. But none I saw looked at the perks and benefits issues from a generational perspective.

Benefits that appeal to all generations include, among others, employer paid health insurance, free or subsidized food, on-site or paid gym memberships, concierge services and flexible work arrangements. 

Those only directly benefiting younger workers include paid maternity and paternity leave, freezing eggs, on-site and emergency childcare.

Baby Boomers, though they tend to have better attendance records, likely use their health insurance more and may have higher premiums associated with the policies. They also may make more use of benefits that cover time off or other expenses to care for elderly parents, as might older Gen Xers.

These are life cycle realities not tied to any currently labeled generation.  And in fairness, no generation should be discriminated against because of demographic and biological factors. Yet there often are stigmas or resentments related to costs of benefits, offering of perks and finger pointing across the members of multigenerational workforces. Older workers may resent that younger ones are now getting flexible work arrangements and childcare they would have loved to have, and instead they had to struggle through on their own while trying to build careers. Younger workers might argue that health care costs are higher for older workers.

Workers may wonder if some of the generous employer perks come from a stealth motivation since they can lead to the trap of working 24/7 rather than giving the workers more control over their lives. For instance, taking advantage of free or low-cost meals and various concierge services on site discourages taking breaks to reduce stress, walks for exercise and time for useful reflection.

The benefits and perks have been shown to help attract and retain people in the talent wars. However, there has been little evidence that they motivate people to work better and harder. Especially competitive people want recognition of their achievements rather than some of the perks and only team recognition.

People of all generations welcome benefits and perks and won’t turn them down. But motivations come from another source. Here are some things that motivate – generalized to generations:

Boomers

Opportunities to keep learning and contributing

Being made to feel continually relevant

Making role transitions respected and appropriately compensated.

Gen X

Recognition of individual achievements

Opening paths to leadership slots

Opportunity to do things their way

Gen Y/Millennials

Having their ideas listened to

Being shown how their role is important to the whole

Providing frequent new learning experiences

For most people the above connect to intrinsic motivations – the strongest and most lasting kind – more than the latest shiny perk. Firms/organizations need to get a better grasp on what really appeals in a deeper way to the talent they covet and pursue that path.

Please send your thoughts to pwhaserot@pdcounsel.com or comment hre or on the Cross-Generational Conversation group on LinkedIn.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot      www.pdcounsel.com  

Birth of a Vision: THE ORIGIN OF CROSS-GENERATIONAL CONVERSATION DAY

Have you ever found yourself literally bolt up awakened by an idea that just kept coming and wouldn’t quit?

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My inspiration for Cross-Generational Conversation Day was the stunning example of determination and resiliency of a 36-year-old friend and star teacher, Karri Ankrom, to jump back into life after episodes of a series of daunting illnesses. The idea of declaring a “Day” literally woke me up with a fountain of details pouring out of my head. It was the morning after celebrating an almost miraculous “recovery” of her then most serious set of medical complications.

Somehow my subconscious associated the two – or probably relieved of the immediate worry, freed me to birth the idea I had conceived of two months before, told one person, and then forgot about. The mind can be full of surprise associations!…. I felt if she could persevere facing all her difficulties, I can be committed enough to implement my vision. It and she continue to inspire me.

Once it was quickly outlined in mind-maps and notes on two pages of lined yellow paper, I was determined to take the concept to reality 

I know in my gut that the world and virtually every organization need cross-generational conversation as an integral part of its culture and business model. I had been working on programs and using the phrase in consulting work, writing and speaking for several years. What would create more awareness and urgency for more action in all types of organizations? We needed something dramatic – a focal point, a trigger that would capture attention… So unanticipated, the “Day” concept was born!

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Think about it! What is it worth to you to invest a day or even half a day of your team’s time if the outcome would be greater insight, productivity and reputation as a best place to work for the top talent in all generations? 

Contact me to find out more about Cross-Generational Conversation Day and prepare to participate in this groundbreaking process of multi-generational insight and collaboration to grow engagement, competitive position and revenue. 

pwhaserot@pdcounsel.com    www.pdounsel.com

THE 8 STRONGEST DEMOTIVATORS

We are moving toward favoring more transparent, participatory leadership and management styles. Results of a study by the National Federation of Independent Business revealed these as the top demotivators to employees and co-workers. My brief commentary follows each on the list.

Micromanagement is #1 – Particularly hated by Generations X and Y/Millennials

Public criticism – Not only offensive to all, but discourages anything not deemed “safe”

Implied threats – Be direct and honest

Failing to provide praise – Demotivates everyone and most craved by Gen Y

Not explaining your actions – Discourages trust; people want transparency

Not following up – Why bother? Is the item/task not important?

Not sharing company data –The call for transparency is growing stronger

Failing to honor creative thinking and problem solving – Why bother?

What else would you add or substitute to the top 10?  Please comment.

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com

(WORKFORCE) DISENGAGEMENT BELLS ARE RINGING

What if they all stayed – those 52% of all full-time U.S. workers who said in a new Gallup poll that they are not involved, enthusiastic or committed to their work? And worse, the 18% who are actively disengaged? What if they conveyed their attitude to customers/clients? What if their frustrations caused by differences with managers and work colleagues of different generations meant they had checked out mentally or even undermined their colleagues’ and team’s work?

Obviously that’s bad for morale, but what does it cost? Gallup estimates that due to declines in quality control, lost productivity, turnover and high absenteeism, actively unhappy workers cost the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion a year. Those are difficult numbers to relate to, but each organization with disengaged workers is likely to be leaving a substantial chunk of change on the table. 

The Gallup stats indicate that women, managers and new hires record higher levels of engagement than other segments of the workforce. Company and team size looks to be one of the best predictors of engagement. Small firms and teams of fewer than 10 people report the most engagement. (Note: Other studies have come to different conclusions about who is more engaged.)

Though age diversity tension factors were not studied in this poll, we’ve observed that inter-generational dynamics are a significant factor too. Differences in attitudes by generation - how one approaches work, demeanor, communication styles and media, perceived work ethic, definitions of teamwork and work-life flexibility  - can and do reduce engagement and productivity in many organizations if not diagnosed and addresse

In fact many polls and studies confirm that generational influences underlie and inform attitudes and opinions on other aspects of diversity and cultural conflict.  Organizations and managers who recognize that, surface the tensions and gaps and adapt workforce friendly methods that facilitate cross-generational conversation and collaboration can emerge as the frontrunners for talent recruitment and retention and great customer relations.  

Wouldn’t you want yours to be one of them?      Please comment.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com

CONQUERING INTERGENERATIONAL CHALLENGES MEANS BUSINESS

Workplace intergenerational challenges are a puzzle and an opportunity. When I started this blog in 2006, we were still in an economic boom, and the mantras were “win the talent wars,” be “the employer of choice,” and “reinvention is the new retirement.” Demographics are still our destiny to a large extent. But the environment has changed – and will again. So we’re staying on top of the developments, trends and focused on solutions.

 After almost 6 years it’s time for a renewed Welcome!!!

Visit and subscribe to this blog for continuing insights on how to do it right and make your organization and business relationships better, more profitable and more satisfying for all generations of workers and clients.

Offer your comments and your stories – we love stories – and contribute to the conversation.

            --- Phyllis

 

PEOPLE WANT TO SEE A PURPOSE IN WORK

A new survey of 4,200 people in the US, UK and Germany by Calling Brands consultancy found a high level of desire to work for an employer organization with an underlying spirit that goes beyond commercial and operational goals. The study consisted of interviews with HR and Communications chiefs from major multinational organizations. In reporting on the findings, it was said that this is a change in attitude. No demographics were given except the country of residence.

Related but not the same thing as Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Purpose now appears to be a powerful driver for retention and attraction of employees as well as productivity.

Perhaps the need to spend so much time at work is driving people to seek meaningful intangibles during the course of their work and to feel they are fulfilling a greater purpose than merely profitability. Survey results indicated that an average of 57% of respondents (58% in the US) would favor joining an organization that has a clearly defined “Purpose, ” and an average of 65% said that Purpose would motivate them to “go the extra mile.”

 

 

SAME OLD TUNE: SUCCESSION PLANNING STILL LAGS

Nearly one-third (31 percent) of companies with more than 1,000 employees said they don’t currently have a succession planning program at their organization. This was reported in a new Career Builders survey. 50 percent of senior management (CEO, CFO, Senior VP, etc.) and 52 percent of those in a vice president position said they do not have a successor for their current role.

Responses when asked what is lacking in their current succession planning program:

  •     Not enough opportunities for employees to learn beyond their own roles – 39 percent
  •     Process isn’t formalized – 38 percent
  •     Not enough investment in training and development – 33 percent
  •     Not actively involving employees or seeking their input – 31 percent
  •     It only focuses on top executives – 29 percent

Managers also reported that workers’ awareness of and input on their own succession planning is important. Forty-nine percent of employers said employees don’t set up career paths with their managers with timelines and milestones.

Still a top HR priority. Still little positive action.

The neglect of career planning is going to bite as the economy comes back to life and people have more options.  High potential personnel will be waving bye-bye for the places that promise an appealing career path at any age.

 

 

WHERE YOUNG PROFESSIONALS WANT TO WORK

Google is the #1 desired place to work of college graduates with 1-8 years of work experience according to a recent survey. Also in the top 5 are Apple, Walt Disney, the U.S. Department of State and Amazon.com. Universum, a consulting company that helps organizations improve their attractiveness to prospective employees, surveyed 10,306 young professionals.

Almost 25% chose Google from a list of 150 companies. Write-ins were allowed and Facebook received the most of those, followed by the Department of Homeland Security and the United Nations. Also in the top 10 were Microsoft and Teach for America and government agencies NASA, the FBI and the CIA.

What’s behind the choices? Consultants speculate that the government agencies chosen give young people a sense of purpose when many of them are looking to make a difference in the world. Also they are looking for job and financial stability in this economy, the federal government has laid off fewer employees than the private sector. For the private sector companies, the young professionals seem to have selected companies they like as consumers.

Insights for employers: Gen Y/Millennials, when thinking about ideal employment are true to the attributes of their generation, i.e., looking for meaningful work, a sense of purpose, stability and brand names. As employers look for talent, now and as the talent wars resume (as they already have in some industries and occupations), they need to keep these attractors in mind and focus on conveying a sense of purpose other than or in addition to making money, innovation and a brand that conveys one or more of these: fun, coolness, expanding opportunities and new frontiers, stability and a sense of caring for its people.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com

 

MANAGEMENT INSIGHTS ON GENDER AND CREATIVITY

The Wall Street Journal weekend edition creates more information overwhelm I didn’t think I needed but am tempted to read. One of the parts I find most intriguing is the Week in Ideas page in the Review section. There are snippets of research studies on a wide range of topics. Here are summaries of two from March 5th on economics and psychology topics.

Impact of Daughters on CEOs

Perhaps when seeking a position, women might want to include in their preparatory research the gender of a male CEO's children. Those with daughters might be an employer of choice. And perhaps it should be a consideration in succession planning.

Researchers found: Male CEOs who have daughters act to close the gender pay gap at their company.  When the first daughter was also the first child, the effect was even greater: the gap closed by 13% of the gap. No detectable effect was found when a female CEO had a daughter.

[From a working paper “Like Daughter, Like Father: How Women’s Wages Change When CEOs Have Daughters” by Michael S. Dahl, Cristian Dezsa and David Ross]

Creativity Increases When Focused on Someone Else

It might increase your creativity in brainstorming options if you imagine someone else when you are trying to reinvent your career or a new position.

Researchers found: When they are thinking on someone else’s behalf, people are more creative.

Two studies with undergraduate students, one with drawings of aliens and another requiring solving of a brain teaser, both found the students were more successful when the task was done for other people or imagined solving another person’s predicament than if they were solving the same situation with themselves as the victim.

[From a forthcoming article in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin by Evan Palman and Kyle J. Emich, “Decisions for Others Are more Creative Than Decisions for the Self.”]

Please comment with your thoughts on these studies and others you would like to share.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot         www.pdcounsel.com     

MORE ON REINVENTION OF THE EMPLOYMENT DEAL AND BOOSTING ENGAGEMENT

CFOs were asked, "What perks, if any, is your company offering or planning to offer in 2011 in an effort to attract and retain employees?" (Multiple responses were allowed.)

Results of the survey during the 4th quarter of 2011 of over 1,400 CFOs of firms with at least 20 employees by Accountemps, a specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance, and bookkeeping professionals, indicated that they offered or were planning to offer the following perks 

Subsidized training/education – 29%

Flexible work hours or telecommuting – 24%

Mentoring programs – 24%

Matching gift programs – 13%

Free or subsidized lunch or snacks – 11%

On-site perks such as childcare, dry cleaning, fitness center, cafeteria – 11%

Subsidized transportation – 10%

Subsidized gym membership – 9%

Sabbaticals – 8%

Housing or relocation assistance – 7%

 The focus is on training to increase employee competence – good for the companies and enabling people to be more marketable at the same time – as well as adding convenience to make their lives more manageable, It’s good to see those are high priorities, and it would be even better if the percentages of firms offering these items were higher. We can hope they will rise as they feel more secure about the economy and feel the threat of increased employee mobility.

The Professional Employment Report has the comprehensive results.

Keeping desired employees engaged at any time, and especially when they have more job and career options, will mean in addition to perks, offering what they want the most after reasonable compensation – meaningful and challenging work and fair treatment with opportunity to grow. Employers should not take their eye off that ball.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot 

 

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