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Why Employers are Reconsidering Hourly Workforce Benefits

If there’s a silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s the significant increase in status that the world’s hourly workers have achieved. Hourly workforce and gig employees have discovered they have more leverage today regarding their work hours and wages. Sadly, that recognition has been hard-won. The next chapter in the story could center on the best way for employers to provide this majority segment of the workforce an employee experience that includes accessible and comprehensive well-being solutions, including programs and tools for mental health care.

Across the U.S. alone, non-salaried employees (people paid an hourly wage) make up 58 percent of workers, according to a 2019 study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Hourly Employees are Valuable

Hourly employees have always been the unsung heroes of the global economy. They are the workers who show up and keep the wheels turning during the worst of times. They’re the frontline healthcare workers, firefighters, and police officers. But they’re also the people working on the production lines, driving the busses and conducting the trains. These hourly workers build houses, deliver packages, handle the behind-the-scenes tasks in restaurants, hotels, and retail stores.

Before COVID-19, the hourly workforce wasn’t considered “essential,” and those in many industries were treated like second-class citizens. Then suddenly, many of these same people were considered necessary for civilization to run day today. During the pandemic, nearly every state governor issued executive orders that defined “essential” industries. They include healthcare, food service, and public transportation. And their employees accounted for roughly 42 percent of the entire U.S. workforce in April 2020, according to the Brookings Institution. Among these, most are hourly or part-time workers, and 57 percent of them earn less than $20 an hour. In fact, essential employees earn an average of 18.2 percent less than employees in other industries, according to the Brookings report.

Nonetheless, many hourly workers are the customer-facing brand ambassadors for their companies. Their customer-facing job requirements made it impossible for many hourly workers to work from home when the global economy shut down. Instead, they were let go. According to the Economic Policy Institute, hourly, low-wage earners experienced 80 percent of the overall U.S. job losses in 2020.

The Needs of Hourly Workers

Now, it’s clear that COVID-19 has disrupted the entire hourly workforce landscape in other ways. Workers changed industries and realized that they could increase their pay significantly in new jobs. Also, as companies compete for a scarce pool of labor, wages are rising quickly. Many hourly workers are aware of this and are no longer wary of changing jobs for a better-paid position. Instead, they’re asking for better pay and greater benefits right where they are. That’s the impression of people like Alex Pantich, whose on-demand staffing platform Upshift is dedicated to the hourly and part-time workforce.

“In my experience operating an on-demand staffing platform,” Pantich said, “many of those working in the hospitality industry making minimum wage realized that they could work in a warehouse with better hours and a pay rate almost double what they made working in a restaurant.“

Research backs him up. Gallup reports that hourly workers are now significantly less satisfied than salaried employees. They are less satisfied with vacation time, retirement benefits, pay, safety conditions, job security,  health insurance benefits, and more. A recent study by Workplace Intelligence and MyWorkchoice that included 2,000 U.S. HR leaders and hourly workers revealed that nearly 94 percent of leaders and 87 percent of hourly workers felt that hourly workers should receive the same, or some of the same, benefits as salaried employees.

Meeting Changing Demands

“We’ve reached a critical turning point,’’ the study concluded. “The evidence is growing that employers who want to remain competitive in today’s marketplace should consider rethinking their benefits for hourly workers, especially flexibility.”

Researchers with the hiring platform HireVue say competition is fierce for top hourly talent. Organizations are getting creative with benefits to attract high performers. A recent survey by the hourly hiring platform Snagajob found that 89 percent of employers are competing for talent using flexible hours and scheduling. Also, 76 percent are offering a robust set of employee discounts and 54 percent are offering increased job skills training.

“Other trends among hourly employers include signing bonuses, increased pay, and vaccination incentives,” says Mathieu Stevenson of Snagajob.

Employers who hope to attract and retain top talent will provide employees full access to wellness tools and programs. Roughly 40 percent of all U.S. adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder during the pandemic. That is nearly four times the number who reported those symptoms in the first half of 2019. But the problem is even worse among essential workers. More than 42 percent of essential workers have suffered anxiety or depressive symptoms during the pandemic, compared with 30 percent among other workers.

To stay competitive, employers need to offer valuable benefits to all employees, regardless of hourly or salaried status.

Edward Jenner

#WorkTrends: Transforming the Healthcare Benefits Experience

Now more than ever, employers feel a mandate to take good care of their people. And that responsibility is bigger than how best to empower a remote workforce. It is more complex than deciding the right time to bring them back on-site. Today, how we enable our employees to take care of themselves, and their loved ones, is a front and center issue.

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Are we providing the wellness benefits our employees need? Do they have access to the right providers? Is preventative care and testing available? How are employees making the decision on what plan to pick — and who is helping them make those decisions? And what kind of experience do we want our employees to have while choosing the right health plan, and providers, for them?

Healthcare Benefits: A Timely Conversation

This period just before open enrollment is not a great time for employees to be left without answers to these questions. So for this episode of @WorkTrends, I invited Justin Holland, CEO and Founder of Healthjoy, to shed some much-needed light on healthcare benefits.

In speaking with Justin, I learned how much healthcare has changed over the last few decades. I also discovered just how important it is to properly educate and enable employees before asking them to choose health benefits. “It’s really easy to run through an open enrollment presentation and forget about the impact of the decisions being made,” Justin said. “So our goal is to give employees the tools and framework they need to make the right decisions for them.”

Justin also confirmed how I have felt about open enrollment: That having a day or two to make major decisions just isn’t enough. “Open enrollment is obviously a very important time to educate employees on benefits. But there’s 364 other days a year they’re utilizing those benefits,” Justin said. “Our vision is that healthcare education be available at the right place at the right time. Because when a kid is sick at 2:00am and you’re going to the ER, chances are slim you’re going to remember what was said in that open enrollment meeting six months ago.”

Healthcare Education and Empowerment

Justin added: “Healthcare education and empowerment needs to be relevant during those touchpoints. At that moment, we’re all accountable — employee and employer, provider and platform — for the health and wellness of the family.”

During our conversation, Justin and I also talked about the rising cost of healthcare. We discussed how employers can provide healthcare benefits to freelancers and independent contractors. And we touched on how healthcare might look after the COVID-19 crisis is behind us. The timing of our conversation couldn’t be better. After all, chances are good your company is about to start an open enrollment period, or is considering a change to employee benefits for 2021. So please listen in!

Healthjoy sponsored this episode of #WorkTrends℠. And I’m so glad they did. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot from our 20 minutes or so together. I did!

 

Find Justin on Linkedin and Twitter.

 

Editor’s note: Have you heard about how #WorkTrends podcasts and Twitter chats are changing to better meet your needs? For details check the new FAQ page. Also, to see upcoming event topics and guests, check the new calendar listing on the #WorkTrends Podcast page.

 

Photo: sol

Rebooting After Covid-19: Employer Liability Concerns

As some states ease lockdown restrictions and America begins to return to work, some businesses eager to reopen their doors facing a whole new headache: fear of their potential liability. Incurring a lawsuit due to possibly exposing employees and customers to the virus is a driving concern for employers; so much so that it’s become a point of contention among federal lawmakers as they hammer out a second coronavirus relief bill.

Businesses and their advocates, such as the U.S. and local Chambers of Commerce and trade associations, are demanding assurances that employers who follow state and federal safety guidelines will have legal protection. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders want Congress to give employers immunity from COVID-related lawsuits as they reopen their businesses, except in cases of gross negligence or wanton misconduct. Failure to do so, they insist, will make an already bad situation worse for many enterprises.

The Chamber’s chief policy officer, Neil Bradley, recently told CNN: “The fear is that small businesses will do all of the right things that public health officials tell them to do, and then someone gets sick and contracts Covid-19 and sues the employer.” The organization insists the concern is not merely theoretical, as it claims that several hundred lawsuits have already been filed.

To guard against liability, legal experts have been advising companies to implement COVID-related safety measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state and local governments. OSHA provides regularly updated guidance on appropriate health and safety measures for different industries, an enforcement response plan for handling COVID-19-related workplace complaints and illness reports made to OSHA, and a set of standards and directives for preventing worker exposure to the virus.

The New Normal

What all this will mean is a new normal for the American workforce. Going to the office will now likely entail being required to wear a face mask, having your temperature checked as you enter your building every day, and maybe even your blood tested before you are cleared to return.

As for the post-lockdown Covid-19 workplace, this is new and uncharted territory. Labor and employment attorneys warn that employers should be careful about how they treat employees who refuse to return to work over safety concerns, especially in such sectors as the service industry, because disciplining them could lead to charges of retaliation.

Helping Employees Stay Well

Up to 64 percent of salaried U.S. employees are currently working from home, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). For safety reasons, many may wish to continue doing so even after state stay-at-home orders are lifted. Then there is the issue of widespread school closings, which have raised concerns about child care. For workers willing to return to the office, companies are advised to stagger shifts, reconfigure their workspace, install plastic dividers between workers when six feet of separation cannot be maintained, and raise cubicle walls.

More stringent measures are being rolled out in hard-hit places like New York City, such as taking people’s temperatures with thermal cameras as they enter office buildings. Some U.S. employers also may follow the lead of major European companies: Ferrari is testing their staff’s blood for Covid-19 antibodies before they can return to work, for instance. In the U.S., Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas has opened a virus testing center in preparation for reopening in late May; staff from the University Medical Center will test employees for free. Toyota’s plan to restart production entails staggered shifts, distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) to workers and conducting daily temperature screenings.

As businesses look for ways to keep their employees healthy and productive, their allies are demanding the federal government provide a consistent, uniform set of workplace health and safety guidelines instead of relying on a state-by-state patchwork. According to the Business Roundtable: “Americans want to feel confident returning to work and being in public spaces, and employers who operate in multiple states and want to keep their employees and customers safe need the clarity that consistent guidelines provide.”

Contention Over Workers’ Comp  

Since workers’ compensation laws usually cover “occupational diseases” contracted at work as well as physical injuries, some states are looking at their workers’ comp programs as a way to assist employees who contract Covid-19 on the job. Florida is acting to ensure that workers in high-risk occupations are eligible for workers’ comp benefits if they become infected in the course of their work.

Typically, an employee who makes a workers’ comp claim must prove that the injury or infection happened in the workplace. If their claim is successful, they cannot collect state unemployment benefits. Nor can they later file a negligence lawsuit against their employer.

But the business community is pushing back, arguing that expanding Covid-19 workers’ comp protections for non-frontline workers or first responders will increase costs for employers who are already struggling enough. In Illinois, business groups successfully rejected the expansion of coverage for non-healthcare workers, claiming that amending laws could create an automatic presumption that an employee contracted the virus at work. Instead, the U.S. Chamber and others propose shifting the burden of protections to government programs — specifically the expanded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that’s part of the federal CARES Act.

And in the meantime, what is clear to all sides is that the pandemic brings tremendous uncertainty, no matter how, and when employees return to work. With nearly two-thirds of all salaried employees working remotely, employers may have to curtail their expectations on what the workforce is willing — or able to do, at least until a Covid-19 vaccine is developed and available. And that could be more than a year away.

3 Ways Employee Benefits Will Change in the Next 5 Years

As the future of work continues to rapidly evolve and organizations across every industry battle for top talent, cookie-cutter benefits packages just aren’t going to be enough to attract the best and brightest workers.

Smart organizations are turning to technology to reduce costs and deliver better benefits that lead to happier and more productive employees. Let’s take a look at how some of these trends are likely to unfold over the next few years.

Predictive Data for Health and Wellness

Wellness benefits have been on the upswing for several years now, but companies often blindly choose health and wellness programs based on trends that don’t necessarily fit their workforce. A number of technology firms are rolling out tools aimed at solving this problem through more robust data analytics and AI.

One such company is Springbuk, which offers employer-facing health analytics software designed to forecast costs and improve employees’ health. “For the employer, health care is their second-largest cost,” says Amy Brown, Springbuk’s vice president of health intelligence. “There’s been a lack of direction for employers in terms of knowing what are the biggest opportunities for cost savings and quality improvement for their population.”

The company’s technology analyzes employer-paid medical bills, pharmacy sales and payroll data to identify gaps in care and opportunities for savings. It seeks to go beyond traditional health care analytics to provide insights and actionable opportunities — for example, offering the ability to identify employees who are at risk of thyroid disease, stroke or diabetes based on an event-detection algorithm using a database of over 86 million claims.

Brown says organizations are eager to better use employee health data to take action and solve problems. “What are the opportunities that I can act upon today?” Brown says. “What we’re really trying to do is get ahead of the curve and think about ‘Who are those members that are going to be at risk for costs in the future, what can you do about that now, and what are the costs occurring today that you can also mitigate?’ It’s much more action-oriented and solution-oriented.”

Nontraditional Benefits to Reduce Financial Stress

MetLife’s 17th annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, released this month, found that personal finances were the No. 1 source of stress for employees at all stages of their careers. One-third of employees admitted to being less productive at work because of financial stress.

The study indicates that while traditional financial benefits such as generous retirement plans are more in demand than ever, more robust financial wellness programs are on the rise as well.

Whether it’s student-loan payback assistance, supplemental insurance products or more robust retirement planning services, smart organizations are addressing productivity-killing financial stress head-on through creative benefits offerings.

“Financial wellness programs can help employees take more active control over their finances, both today and in the future, and give them the confidence they need to improve their situations,” the report says. “These programs help employees manage all aspects of their financial lives — including student-debt management, short- and long-term planning, college savings, retirement, and the role of insurance.”

More Individual Customization

The MetLife survey found that only 37% of employees strongly believe their employers’ benefits communication is customized to address their personal situations.

Employers, however, appear to be evolving. Fifty-seven percent of organizations said they’re committed to offering their employees a wider range of benefits, including non-medical supplemental benefits such as accident insurance, critical-illness insurance and legal services plans. That’s an increase of 7 percentage points over the 2018 survey, and experts say the customization trend is likely to accelerate in the coming years.

“Employee benefits will continue to evolve to follow closer to each individual’s unique lifestyle and choices,” says Rachel Lyubovitzky, CEO of EverythingBenefits, a benefits administration software firm.

Lyubovitzky says we can expect to see benefits such as the ability to work from interesting locales or more time off to pursue personal development and charitable causes to become more commonplace. “Telemedicine, pet insurance, legal services and financial literacy benefits will become the norm,” she says.

The Hidden Dangers of Manual Benefits Reconciliation

The ancient Roman philosopher Virgil once said that “The greatest wealth is health.” There’s a lot of truth in those words. Many companies, large and small, invest heavily in resources to attract and retain top talent and provide benefits that keep those employees and their families happy and healthy. According to a study conducted by SHRM, more and more companies are focused on providing a broader benefits package, with one-third of companies surveyed saying they had increased their benefits offerings in the previous 12 months to better compete for talent.

It can be challenging for employers and HR teams to manage rising benefits costs and to also keep track of all the regulatory requirements and deadlines. Offering and managing benefits feels like an expensive, uphill climb for many. With all the vendors, carriers and third-party administrators involved in offering benefits, mistakes and errors occur relatively frequently. In an effort to minimize errors, many companies conduct a monthly benefits reconciliation audit to ensure carrier records match employee enrollments and payroll deductions. However, in many cases the process is manual, time-consuming and doesn’t always catch all errors.

A common mindset among benefit administrators is that “manual reconciliation is better than no reconciliation at all,” but unfortunately the manual way of reconciling can carry hidden dangers that companies would do well to avoid. Here are some examples.

Costly Errors and Mistakes

In a perfect world, when employees enroll in benefits all of their elections are accurately reflected in the carrier invoices, and those elections line up perfectly with payroll deductions. Unfortunately that’s just not the case, and costly errors can be a regular occurrence, creating headaches for employers, HR staff and employees. A study by Aberdeen Group says 12-15 percent of all benefits carrier billing contains errors. In a company with 250 employees receiving benefits, billing errors could amount to over $250,000 a year.

A blog post by my company, EverythingBenefits, explains the cost of employee benefits to help calculate your company’s potential liability. There are a number of problems that could be difficult to spot when reconciling benefits manually. For instance, one HR professional we interviewed shared an error he encountered by chance: “Some employees had enrolled in a particular plan, but it wasn’t reflected with the insurer. Employees thought they had coverage and were having payroll deductions, but the deductions didn’t match what the insurer was billing us.”

In another instance, a new benefits manager uncovered that her employer was paying for the benefits of terminated employees: “I took over invoice reconciliation from the previous benefits manager, who was using paper and a ruler to reconcile. I found multiple discrepancies, including that terminated employees were still enrolled in health plans. It took months to clean up the data.”

Inefficiency and Wasted Time

Performing a manual, line-by-line reconciliation of carrier invoices, coupled with matching to employee enrollments and payroll deductions, is a tedious task. For companies with more than a handful of employees, monthly reconciliation might seem possible but can take several hours to complete, with no guarantee that the output will be accurate. Some companies, due to lack of resources, don’t even attempt to do it at all. The reality is that benefits reconciliation is necessary to ensure errors are caught and resolved, but a manual audit is highly inefficient and much too labor-intensive.

Not only does manual benefits reconciliation take time away from already-busy HR and benefits professionals, it’s just not as accurate as an automated benefits reconciliation solution. Human error can be an issue, particularly when there are multiple benefits options and employees are enrolled in a range of coverage levels.

Regulatory Compliance Liability

Regulatory compliance is a real concern for companies when it comes to the challenges of managing benefits. No one wants to run afoul of a compliance audit, or face reputational risk if an error affects an employee’s ability to get necessary medical care. A recent workplace benefits study by Guardian found that 60 percent of employers feel overwhelmed with the increased complexity of managing their benefits programs, and 70 percent believe they’re unable to keep up with changes to laws such as the Affordable Care Act, paid parental leave laws, FMLA, ADA and COBRA. For many companies, manual benefits reconciliation can end up exacerbating the problem, potentially putting the company at risk for regulatory fines or a lawsuit if certain errors are overlooked or not corrected in time.

An Alternative: Improve Benefits Administration with Automated Reconciliation

Benefits reconciliation is entirely necessary, because it ensures that enrollments, payroll data and benefits invoices are accurate and in sync each month. Fortunately, with modern automated benefits reconciliation technology, time-consuming manual processes are no longer needed. In a few mouse clicks, reconciliation of carrier invoices, payroll data and employee enrollments can be done in near real-time.

When it comes to ensuring billing accuracy and better understanding benefits spend, automated benefits reconciliation is a best practice for HR organizations supporting companies of any size. It eliminates benefit contribution errors and other costly mistakes, delivers regulatory peace of mind and helps to provide an improved benefits delivery experience for all.

This post is sponsored by EverythingBenefits.

 

About EverythingBenefits
Through next-generation technology, EverythingBenefits helps companies simplify the complete employee benefits cycle through market-proven enrollment and administration solutions. Our technology can seamlessly integrate with existing HCM platforms, payroll providers and internal company systems to bring greater efficiency and transparency to benefits management. Contact us to learn more about our solutions that make benefits simpler, more rewarding and more enjoyable.

New Employee Benefits That Could Be Your Secret Weapon

Healthcare and 401(k)? Boring. Today’s employees crave benefits that are as innovative as they are. Providing the perks employees really want—in addition to the medical coverage they need, of course—can help you attract and retain top talent.

Fortunately, employee benefits don’t have to be expensive to be appealing. Don’t feel pressure to build a Google-worthy game room or turn your headquarters into a jungle terrarium like Amazon. These five ideas for employee benefits will please your staff without the need to re-decorate your office digs.

Loan Payback Assistance

Millennials have an average of $41,286.60 in student debt, more than $10,000 higher than the national average of debt for all college graduates. What’s worse, research found that 59 percent of Millennials with student loans say they have “no idea” when they will pay it back.

Want to raise employee morale? Give millennials a hand with those loans. For example, PwC offers employees $1,200 a year in student loan reimbursement.

Physical and Mental Health Benefits

Healthy employees are more productive employees, so when you beef up your employee wellness programs, everyone wins. This may include an on-site fitness center or an array of free, healthy snacks in the breakroom.

Focus on employee mental health, too. Yoga classes, in-office massage, or healthcare benefits packages that provide coverage for mental wellness programs are increasingly common benefits that emphasize overall employee wellness.

Flexible Schedules and Unlimited Vacation Time

Offering flexible working hours or unlimited vacation time may sound scary to some employers. What if no one shows up for work? But without the “use it or lose it” incentive in place, employees are actually less likely to take vacation time. When they do, you can even up the ante by helping to fund their trip, just like Epic Systems, a software development firm in the healthcare industry, does. Epic gives their employees an additional four weeks paid vacation every five years, and if the employee spends that time in a country they’ve never visited before, Epic helps pay travel expenses for the employee and a guest. By providing some incentive for your team members to travel to new locales, they will return to work refreshed, de-stressed, and perhaps bearing a new cultural perspective that could help them do their job better.

At Netflix’s California headquarters, abolishing the 9-to-5 grind has paid off. Employees are held accountable for completing their work—not punching a clock. Those who work hard love the freedom and those who abuse the policy won’t last long, which is why the system works.

Family-focused Benefits

Only a handful of states mandate paid family leave, but paid maternity leave—and even paternity leave for dads—is becoming a must-have benefit for companies to attract and keep talent. You might also offer on-site childcare or childcare reimbursement for employees with young children, a number that is growing as more millennials—who now represent the largest percentage of the workforce—enter their late 20s and 30s and start families.

Foster a family-friendly work atmosphere with other perks, too, such as observing “Bring Your Child to Work Day” or giving employees time off—with pay and without guilt—to attend school functions or their children’s sports and activities.

Invite Pets into the Workplace

A family-friendly workplace helps employees create a better work-life balance. But creating a pet-friendly workplace lets employees bring an important part of their lives into the office. Pets in the office can reduce stress, enhance camaraderie amongst employees, and even improve retention. Coffee breaks become walks around the park—which further increases employee wellness. This low-cost benefit has even been shown to enhance employee productivity.

If you’re not ready to leap into this benefit with all four paws, start with “Bring Your Pet to Work Day” or extend the privilege to a week and see how it goes. Before you make the announcement, set some rules for pet behavior and, of course, be conscientious of employees in the office who may have allergies. With the groundwork laid, your employees’ furry companions might just become your company’s greatest benefit.

Match Your Benefits to Your Culture

Not every idea on this list will be the best fit for every office.  But you can attract top talent and increase employee retention by building a creative benefits package that reflects your company culture and the values that are important to the people in your organization. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, and the return on investment will last for years.

Photo Credit: C x 2 Flickr via Compfight cc

Employee Benefits in 2016: Perks or Expectations?

Are employee benefits today considered perks, or are they expected? It’s a question many ask these days. Not surprisingly, the history of employee perks involves World War II, the burgeoning tech industry and women. I say not surprisingly because these same key elements like a reduced workforce, new technology and women in the workforce are still driving factors in why many businesses today are upping their game when it comes to employee perks.

But let’s back up a minute. When World War II broke out, Hewlett-Packard’s David Packard, at the request of the War Department, stayed behind to run HP’s test and measurement instrument program. HP ran 24 hours a day, and with the men away at war, Packard quickly learned that he had to trust his female employees to run the company. He also had to accommodate the working moms among them, which included flex-time for sick children, doctor’s appointments, and school runs.

Post-war, the company continued these programs, and added others such as profit-sharing, annual bonuses, stock options, Friday afternoon beer-fests, coffee, fruit and donut breaks every morning and afternoon, and eventually, even camping and picnics at their private company retreat. Fast-forward a few years, and HP was soon boasting record-breaking high levels of employee satisfaction.

Gradually other companies followed suit regarding employee perks as more women entered the workforce, as Millennials took over the business world, as jobs became more and more specialized, and as work-life balance eroded due to our digitally driven work world.

Today’s Top Employee Benefits and Perks

Language morphs and evolves, and today there are blurred lines between terms like “benefits” and “perks.” While there are certain employee benefits most organizations are legally bound to provide, such as social security benefits, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation insurance, today’s employee looks for much more than that.

In fact, according to employment recruiting and review site Glassdoor, “With nearly three in five (57 percent) people reporting benefits and perks being among their top considerations before accepting a job, some employers are raising the bar even higher to help attract talent.”

While health and wellness, financial considerations, and retirement benefits have remained at the top of the list for job searchers, other additions such as family issues and time off show an increased desire to try and reclaim that elusive work-life balance.

The Millennial Impact

Millennials are the largest demographic in the workforce today. They will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, and they want more from work than money. They want to make an impact. Deloitte’s 2015 Millennial Survey shared insights from 7,800 Millennials from 29 different countries, and they were clear: The business world is getting it wrong. Seventy-five percent of respondents felt business could do more to help improve society. Only 28 percent felt their current company makes full use of their skills. For a generation that thrives on mentorship, inclusivity, giving back, and professional growth, those are shockingly sad numbers.

Millennials are also notoriously fickle, and more prone to job-hop than any generation before them. According to a recent Gallup report, “…21 percent of Millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-Millennials who report the same.” Gallup estimates Millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.

Millennials also show less willingness to stay in their current jobs. Half of Millennials, compared with 60 percent of non-Millennials, strongly agree they plan to be working at their company one year from now. For businesses, this suggests that half of their Millennial workforce doesn’t see a future with them.

In today’s world of work, employee benefits are expected. So, when you’re wondering how to recruit and retain this important cohort think about paid education and training, an active mentorship program, company sanctioned time-off for volunteering or charity work, and opportunities for work-life balance—things like flex-time for family appointments or school meetings, extended parental leave and opportunities for remote work.

Employee Perks: Trends in 2016 and Beyond

Some of the biggest trends in employee benefits and perks revolve around family, especially parental leave and baby bonuses. Netflix caused a ripple through the business world when they announced they were offering employees a year of maternity and paternity leave to new parents. Those same parents are also given the flexibility to return either part-time or full-time, and they can take leave as needed throughout the year. Other companies have taken note, and alongside generous parental leave policies, today you’ll find egg freezing and fertility assistance, counseling for new parents returning to the workforce, lump-sum “baby bonuses” for new parents, even breast-milk delivery services for traveling working moms on employee perks lists.

Another hot new trend is helping new hires pay down their student debt. Student debt load is spiraling out of control. The class of 2015 graduated with an average debt of $35,051, about $2,000 more than their peers in 2014. If you want to stand out from the crowd when it comes to hiring and retaining the best and brightest in your field, consider following in the footsteps of Pricewaterhouse Coopers and other organizations and start working on a student-loan relief repayment benefit as part of your corporate employee perks package.

However, you don’t have to offer pricey perks like three catered daily meals, unlimited paid time-off, on-site dry cleaning, free shuttle buses, gender-reassignment surgery or hefty yearly vacation stipends to recruit and retain the best employees. In fact, many in the start-up space, including DropBox, which drops roughly $25,000 yearly per employee for perks, are scaling back the lavish benefits the tech industry has become known to offer. If you’re a smaller organization, consider less expensive treats like a monthly manicure or massage service, a small health and wellness stipend, or varied start times to help reduce commuting stress.

Consider adopting more flexibility regarding job sharing and remote work. Or incorporate team outings or time for volunteer work into your employees’ schedules. While you don’t have to break the bank with your employee perks and benefits in 2016, you must recognize the employee benefits game has changed. Pivot and incorporate some of these benefits if you haven’t already. Because it’s likely your competition already has.

What do you think? Have employee perks and benefit packages gone too far? Do you have an employee benefits package that’s the envy of your industry?

A version of this was first posted on switchandshift.com

Photo Credit: mehridoyle via Compfight cc

Keeping Staff When Your Employee Benefits Don’t Cut It

Attracting good employees as a small- or medium-sized business can be tricky. To get around it you hire inexperienced graduates and train them yourself, only to seem them walk off to a larger company with shinier benefit packages as soon as you give the qualifications they need to get in. It seems to be the way things are: you train fresh talent, and then bigger, wealthier companies with life insurance, an incredible insurance plan, and more paid vacation than you can afford poach them. The costs of training new employees and the constant hemorrhaging of your best employees drives down the quality of your work and prevents you from becoming a major player. So what can you do to hold on to those people so that you can grow your business?

Screen Your Hires

Big businesses can offer better pay and better benefits than your business. They offer stability and great wages to people who are trying to maximize their income, but they also tend to be rigid and very unadaptable. As a smaller business you should focus on hiring people who are unlikely to fit well into a large, slow-moving organization. Ask interviewees about their future plans, and take in those who are well qualified but also planning on pursuing further education, gathering new skills, taking care of children, or possibly even moving.

Be The Most Convenient Option

Offering work to these individuals makes you a convenient option for skilled workers who might otherwise be forced out of the job market. Accommodate them by offering flexible work hours and telecommuting options, in conjunction with a steady paycheck. This creates a favorable work-life balance for employees and makes it easy for them to stay on board while also putting them in a position where they would have to give up a lot of freedom if they wanted to work at a more established business.

Maintain Good Morale With Great Leaders

Running any team of professionals is tricky, and doing it with employees who have flexible schedules, or who work from home, is even more difficult. This puts an incredible strain on your leadership team, who will have to work very hard to keep their respective teams cohesive and on the same page. There are a lot of important characteristics that go into an excellent manager, and it’s especially important to screen potential leaders for their communication skills, their ability to motivate people, and their ability to inspire good cooperation and coordination between employees.

Work To Keep Individual Employees

Every employee has different needs, and when someone is looking for greener pastures it’s important to know why, and what you could do about it. Have an answer ready for what your employees can do to earn raises or promotions, offer training to develop employees professionally, and deal with interpersonal conflicts in the office. Never try to bully an employee into staying, and always be the one to offer solutions to a potentially departing employee rather than getting defensive.

Small- and medium-sized organizations have an uphill battle to retain skilled employees, but it is a battle that can be won. By carefully screening potential new hires, offering flexibility, maintaining good leadership, and determining why individual employees are leaving, you might be able to hold onto employees a little longer. Chances are they might leave down the line, but the company will have at least recovered the money spent to hire and train the individual.

About the Author: Samantha Stauf works in the marketing department of a start-up. She recently became a regular contributor at Ms Career Girl and Social Media Today.

photo credit: Reaching via photopin (license)

Job Hunting? Look For Employers That Care About Your Future

Written by Chris Boyce, CEO, Virgin Pulse

Are you pursuing new job opportunities — hoping to take the next step in your career? How do you determine if a potential employer is a wise choice? What criteria really count?

If wellness programs aren’t on your “must have” list, you may want to reconsider. The evidence is mounting. Companies committed to workforce wellness — particularly those committed to total quality of life at work and at home — are likely to be your best bet.

Unfortunately, not all companies make that kind of commitment. It’s no doubt one reason why employee engagement is so poor. Of course, engagement is influenced by multiple factors, but in general today’s workforce isn’t feeling the love. In fact, Gallup research revealed last year that 70% of U.S. employees are either disengaged or actively disengaged — and it’s costing companies over $300 billion a year.

The Workforce Wellness Difference

If you’re looking for a new gig, it makes sense to bypass organizations whose employees just aren’t dialed in to the work they’re doing, or the company’s mission, or its culture. But how do you find a great place to work?

There are some amazing companies out there that demonstrate their commitment to employees by investing directly in their health and happiness. We see them every day.

Leaders at these companies recognize that employees who are engaged in life inside and outside of their work environment are likely to be more productive and loyal over time. These types of companies support their workforce with comprehensive wellness options, like healthy food choices in the cafeteria, free group exercise classes in corporate gym facilities, paid time off to volunteer in the community, and even cold, hard cash incentives to reward healthy behavior.

Why Total Wellness Matters

By improving your health in multiple ways — physical, mental, social and financial — you’ll improve your total quality of life and maximize your potential in your job. Smart companies know this, and smart job seekers do, too. According to our own research, 87% of employees believe robust workplace wellness programs are paramount when choosing a place to work.

In recent years, with technology advances like the Internet, smartphones, teleconferencing and a variety of devices that help us work productively no matter where we’re located, the lines are blurring between work and home life. Employers recognize this, and increasingly are helping employees improve their total quality of life — not only by offering stellar benefits and workplace wellness programs, but also by extending those benefits to family and friends. This way, employees can rely on their natural support network to influence and reinforce their healthy habits.

Including family members is a no-brainer for employers, since spouses and dependents help boost wellness program participation. It should be a no-brainer for you, too. When exercising and dieting with a friend or family member, you have a 57% greater chance of losing weight than by going it alone, according to the Framingham Heart Study. Plus, getting healthy is more fun when you don’t fly solo. With innovative wellness programs that include your family and friends, you can challenge one another to simple, healthy competitions. For example, you can win bragging rights by tracking who climbs the most stairs at work, or who eats the most fruits and vegetables each week.

Employee Health Is More Than Fun and Games

But all of that fun also has serious impact. If your employer offers wellness programs you enjoy, and you take advantage of those programs, you’re more likely to adopt and sustain healthy lifestyle changes for the long-term. What’s more, the link between companies that provide robust workplace wellness programs and sustained employee engagement is strong. Our research shows that, at these organizations, 80% of employees feel their employer cares about their well-being.

So, in the long run, what can you expect? The payback of choosing a company that cares includes: fewer sick days, fewer workplace safety incidents, and an increased sense that your contributions at work have a greater overall impact, according to multiple sources. You’ll also feel a stronger connection with your employer, as you’re encouraged to stay active and healthy, and you see a similar commitment to those you love.

Bottom line: Healthier, happier employees are more engaged employees. And engaged employees perform more effectively at work. This can opening avenues to upward mobility and promotions that you might never have realized otherwise.

Factor these elements into your job search today, and I am confident that, in the future, you’ll find greater benefits both at work and in every other facet of life.

Chris-Boyce_color_web2(About the Author: Chris Boyce is CEO of Virgin Pulse. He is an accomplished technology entrepreneur who brings more than 15 years of consumer loyalty, enterprise and consumer software experience to Virgin Pulse. Leveraging Virgin’s philosophy that business should be a force for good, Chris’ leadership has been instrumental in guiding Virgin Pulse’s development of market-leading, technology-based products and services that help employers improve workforce health, boost employee engagement, and enhance corporate culture. Chris has an MBA from Harvard Business School. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.)

(Editor’s Note: Chris Boyce discussed employee engagement with the TalentCulture community this week at #TChat Events. See full highlights and resource links in the Recap: “Employee Engagement: Say It Like You Mean It.“)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Telecommuting: 5 Ways Companies Benefit

Last year, when Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer banned telecommuting for her employees, the decision stirred a vigorous debate about whether it’s valid for any business to let employees work from home.

As I see it, any organization can boost the personal and professional productivity of its workforce through telecommuting. And the more widely it is embraced, the better for the company.

Therefore, it’s a smart move to integrate technologies that make the work-from-home process smoother and more seamless.

Telecommuting Success: It’s More Than Technology

However, simply putting new technology into place and allowing your workforce to telecommute won’t make your business productive. Successful virtual work initiatives still require effective management. Leaders need to engage team members (as if they were physically at the office) and make sure they are kept in the loop, so they remain psychologically and socially connected, even when they don’t share a physical office space.

5 Key Business Benefits

But that said, when virtual work options are implemented appropriately, the advantages are abundant. For example, here are five major ways companies can benefit:

1) Morale: Happier employees get more done. In many cities, employees deal with a grinding commute, only to sit in an office where they interact very little with their coworkers. Whether the telecommuting arrangement is permanent or just a weekly flex day, the reduced travel and stress can provide a tremendous boost in employee morale.

2) Talent Acquisition: This can be a significant advantage in both large and small markets, because the best talent isn’t always within driving distance. This is certainly affected by the scope of the position, but businesses that don’t require day-to-day physical access to a shared office can benefit by finding the best candidates, regardless of physical location. Telecommuting lets companies choose from a much larger talent pool when it’s time to recruit for open positions.

3) Productivity: If you have ever worked remotely you probably know that you can accomplish much more when the conditions are right. At many offices, constant distractions mean less work gets done than the company desires. While face-to-face camaraderie may help employees build relationships, beyond small talk, there isn’t much that can be accomplished sitting in a meeting room that can’t be accomplished from a distance, using collaboration tools.

4) Flexibility: Trying to bring teams together in the same space and time isn’t necessarily easier because everyone travels to a central office. The technology that companies adopt to enable telecommuting allows teams to collaborate in real time from anywhere members are located. Participants can access teleconferencing, web conferencing and telepresence from almost anywhere. So when people can’t be in the same physical place, the meeting will still go on.

5) Adoption: I have said this for as long as I can remember: ”Eat your own dog food!” Any business that considers itself a high-tech organization should adopt tools, structures and processes required for successful telecommuting. What’s more, these capabilities should be  promoted as a way the workforce can achieve maximum productivity and work-life balance. Using this technology day in and day out can truly bring the organization closer. And the value of that connection can be priceless, as it translates to better selling, delivery and support of the solutions your customers need.

What other ways can organizations benefit from telecommuting? Does your company allow telecommuting? If not, why? Share your opinions and ideas in the comments below.

(Editor’s Note: This post was adapted with permission from an article written for and published in Commercial Integrator Magazine and republished by Millennial CEO.)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Workplace Wellness: The Story Starts With Healthy Culture

(Editor’s Note: Chris Boyce is one of our featured guests at #TChat Events Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014. Join us to discuss employee engagement issues! See details in the preview post: “Does Your Workforce Feel the Love?“)

Written by Chris Boyce, CEO, Virgin Pulse

Headlines are a funny thing. They often do a terrible job of telling a story. Earlier this year, the RAND Corporation published what headlines described as a sobering report on the state of workplace wellness.

At first glance, these initiatives appeared to be falling far short of the mark. But (as is so often the case) headlines only tell a tiny slice of the story. To find the truth, we must look beneath the surface.

Wellness 1.0: A Flawed Model

It’s correct that the traditional concept of wellness is broken. Employers have been overly prescriptive with wellness strategies — relying far too heavily on specific programs, health risk assessments (HRAs) and biometric screenings. These tactics typically produce short-term gains, but they lose on long-term impact. This “Wellness 1.0” approach clearly has failed.

The Power Of Wellness 2.0

Traditional wellness has struggled because it overlooks a critical issue — telling employees how to act is not the same thing as empowering employees to make their own healthy behavioral choices, and supporting them along the way. In short, for workforce wellness to gain a meaningful foothold and make a lasting impact, culture must come first.

How can companies accomplish this mission? In theory, it’s simple. But in reality, it can be a challenge. Developing a culture-first mentality means focusing on employees’ Total Quality of Life — including physical, mental, social, emotional, and financial health. It’s not just about convincing them to join a weight loss program or complete an annual HRA. It’s about connecting with them in ways that put lifestyle changes within easy reach, and encouraging them support one another through the process of transformation.

Creating a culture geared toward Total Quality of Life requires solutions that are engaging, social and fun, so employees naturally weave them into daily activity. It means moving beyond traditional wellness boundaries by connecting participants with a highly available online platform. It means providing “anytime” access to smart tools and resources that comfortably fit into an employee’s world — making it simple, interactive and rewarding to choose healthier options on a continuous basis.

Success Factors: Walking The Walk

Virgin Pulse Total Quality of Life Employee Engagement whitepaper cover

Download the related Pulse Paper now

Every Total Quality of Life strategy should incorporate healthy goals as foundational elements. For example, it’s essential to encourage nutritious eating habits and regular physical activity. But it’s also important for employers to demonstrate commitment to those goals by offering things like healthy cafeteria options and access to onsite workout facilities, so employees can easily integrate these choices into their daily routine.

Other elements can take Total Quality of Life even further. For example, classes that help employees establish and manage a 401k, or learn smart retirement savings strategies demonstrate an even deeper commitment to workforce well-being. The result? The more employers invest in employees’ personal and professional growth, the more committed, engaged and productive those employees will be. In short, a holistic approach is a wise investment in future business performance.

Measurable Improvement: It’s A Matter Of Time

Of course, cultural shifts take time. But they’re far more effective if employees believe you care about them — not just as “human resources,” but as whole humans. Employer commitment is key. Once employees move forward with wellness objectives, and begin to reach early milestones, they’ll start feeling better about themselves. Soon, personal achievements like weight loss or community volunteer involvement begin translating into direct payoffs at work. You’ll see more passion, creativity, and focus on the job. And when you reinforce these positive outcomes, it will lead to even more ambitious objectives.

Rewriting The Wellness Story

What headlines you should expect for Wellness 2.0? This next-generation approach to wellness, focused on Total Quality of Life, is helping companies shift their approach to a culture of continuous engagement. So keep looking for stories of individual and business transformation, fueled by more productive, loyal employees. Those stories are real, and ready to be told.

(Editor’s Note: Looking for more details about how to engage and support your workforce? Download the latest Virgin Pulse Paper, “Total Quality of Life: A Roadmap for Employee Engagement” by TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro.)

Chris-Boyce_color_web2(About the Author: Chris Boyce is CEO of Virgin Pulse. He is an accomplished technology entrepreneur who brings more than 15 years of consumer loyalty, enterprise and consumer software experience to Virgin Pulse. Leveraging Virgin’s philosophy that business should be a force for good, Chris’ leadership has been instrumental in guiding Virgin Pulse’s development of market-leading, technology-based products and services that help employers improve workforce health, boost employee engagement, and enhance corporate culture. Chris has an MBA from Harvard Business School. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.)

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

What Do Interns Really Want? [Infographic]

Developing an extraordinary internship program can be a long and winding journey. You’ll face plenty of bumps in the road, and perhaps lots of trial and error. And as we’ve seen in the news recently, you may even discover some controversy.

But overall, internships can be very beneficial for organizations — not just because enthusiastic young workers are contributing to your business goals. Internship programs can also open the door to a more diverse workforce, help add fresh perspectives to your brand, attract other young talent to your organization, and more.

Of course, employers aren’t the only ones who benefit. Although the state of the internship has shifted over time, its overarching goal remains the same — students and recent grads should gain something educational from their work experience. So, what do today’s interns really want to accomplish, and what else should employers know about them?

The following infographic, based on student employment data from InternMatch, offers insights to help employers map out a more effective internship program. Here are some highlights:

•  38% of interns want better pay
•  30% want opportunities to perform meaningful work
•  47% are interested in access to executives and mentorship
•  California, New York, and Florida are three of the top states for finding college talent

Do any of these statistics surprise you? Check out the full infographic below, and share your thoughts in the comments area.

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced these trends — as an intern or as an employer?

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Gender Pay Gap: The Numbers Still Don't Add Up

The world of work has become fairly sophisticated, with laws and business norms that support equitable career opportunities for all. However, there’s still plenty of room for progress — especially in terms of pay.

Studies show that compensation for women still lags behind men in the same role. Furthermore, men still outnumber women in professions that are typically lucrative, such as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

The infographic below, compiled by MedReps.com (an online resource for desirable medical and pharmaceutical sales jobs), reveals various aspects of the gender pay gap — with a selection of insights by location, industry, occupation and title. Here are several noteworthy takeaways:

•  The United States ranks 22nd in the world, overall, in gender pay disparity;
•  On average, female doctors earn $56,000 a year less than males;
•  The female-to-male earnings ratio in the construction industry is 92%, while in the financial industry lags behind at only 72%.

Check out the full infographic below and share your thoughts with us in the comments area.

What do you think? What are some reasons why there’s still a gender pay gap? And what can we do to improve these statistics?

(Image Credit: Ken Teegardin at Flickr.com)

Gender Pay Gap: The Numbers Still Don’t Add Up

The world of work has become fairly sophisticated, with laws and business norms that support equitable career opportunities for all. However, there’s still plenty of room for progress — especially in terms of pay.

Studies show that compensation for women still lags behind men in the same role. Furthermore, men still outnumber women in professions that are typically lucrative, such as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

The infographic below, compiled by MedReps.com (an online resource for desirable medical and pharmaceutical sales jobs), reveals various aspects of the gender pay gap — with a selection of insights by location, industry, occupation and title. Here are several noteworthy takeaways:

•  The United States ranks 22nd in the world, overall, in gender pay disparity;
•  On average, female doctors earn $56,000 a year less than males;
•  The female-to-male earnings ratio in the construction industry is 92%, while in the financial industry lags behind at only 72%.

Check out the full infographic below and share your thoughts with us in the comments area.

What do you think? What are some reasons why there’s still a gender pay gap? And what can we do to improve these statistics?

(Image Credit: Ken Teegardin at Flickr.com)

Empowering Employees in 3D: Webinar with Virgin Pulse

When people go to work, they don’t leave their lives behind — so why do employers expect them to?

This kind of one-dimensional thinking is exactly what led us to the dismal workforce engagement levels we see today.

Fortunately, there are ways to turn this around. Research and real-world examples reveal that when employees are encouraged to develop in mind, body and spirit, they become more focused, productive and committed to their work. It sounds like common sense, but putting it into practice can be a challenge.

VirginWebinar (2)So, what’s the secret? How can business and HR leaders more fully engage employees through cultures that celebrate the “whole person”?

Learn from experts at a special webinar on Thursday, November 7, at 2pm ET/11 am PT:
“Total Quality of Life: A Roadmap for Employee Engagement.”

David Coppins, President, Virgin Pulse Client Services & Member Engagement, and Meghan M. Biro, CEO of TalentCulture will share insights to help you:

•  Build a compelling case for “total quality of life” initiatives;
•  Create a winning employee empowerment strategy;
•  Drive authentic engagement across the workforce.

Virgin-Pulse

Register for the webinar now

“Igniting employee passion and performance should be within every company’s reach.” Meghan says. “We’re thrilled to work side-by-side with Virgin Pulse in helping business leaders learn from one another about how to successfully transform their cultures. It’s all about changing lives for good — across the world of work.”

Throughout the webinar, attendees are invited to join members of the TalentCulture community on Twitter, as we share ideas and questions using the #TChat hashtag.

Don’t miss this dynamic informative event! Register now, and join us November 7th.

Participating Organizations

Learn more about Virgin Pulse, and follow @VirginPulse on Twitter.
Learn more about TalentCulture, and follow @TalentCulture on Twitter.

Tech Disruption: Too Much Of A Good Thing? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for a full review of week’s events, including resource links? See the #TChat Recap “Quantum Change: Embracing Innovation.”)

Innovation at the speed of business.

That sounds like a tagline for countless high-tech vendors, doesn’t it?

Once upon a time, it was a strategic call-to-action for organizations seeking competitive advantage in the digital age. But what does this catchphrase imply today, for a global workplace that’s more turbo-charged than ever?

Ready Or Not — Here Comes More Change

For better or worse, disruption has become part of our lives. Technology is advancing at a feverish pace, and a new wave of digitally-savvy workers is entering the workforce in droves. Yet at the same time, employee engagement seems to remain stuck almost in neutral. This apparent disconnect raises nagging questions about how effectively innovation really drives individual and business performance.

We Have Seen the Future, And It Is Us

Most of us agree that tools, alone, have little value. It’s what we do with them that matters. So, in a world where technology is continually disrupting our organizational workflows, what lies ahead, and how can we prepare more effectively? As the rate of innovation accelerates, can adoption actually keep pace? How can we stay ahead of the learning curve? Why does it matter? And what are the human consequences — good, bad, and indifferent?

These are big questions with serious business implications. That’s why we’ve asked a workplace innovation expert to be our guest at #TChat forums this week. Jim Lundy, founder and CEO of Aragon Research has been at the forefront of enterprise collaboration and learning technology for almost 30 years — both in product marketing and sales executive roles at vendors like Saba Software and Xerox — and as an industry analyst at Gartner and now Aragon.

#TChat Events: Fusing Technology Disruption And Adoption

This week’s conversation promises to offer a fascinating peek at what’s ahead — and why that matters for all of us in the world of work. So join us as our “Summer Restart” series looks at why and how technology disruption and adoption are essential companions in business transformation. Bring your questions, concerns and ideas, and let’s talk!

#TChat Radio — Wed, Aug 14 at 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Jim Lundy joins our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman to talk about the most disruptive technologies on the horizon, and their potential impact on organizations. Listen live and dial-in with your questions and feedback!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Aug 14 at 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, Jim follows us to the #TChat Twitter stream, as we open the discussion to the entire TalentCulture community. Anyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we explore these questions:

Q1: What are the top disruptive HR technologies today and why?
Q2: How can the enterprise leverage innovation for positive workplace outcomes?
Q3: Why disruption? Can’t we just improve the process/tech status quo?
Q4: What can leaders do to encourage employee engagement via disruption?
Q5: Has innovation flattened today’s world of work for the better?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: CBS Television

Perks Don't Kill Potential, People Do: #TChat Recap

I’ve been in the dentist’s chair two times in the last two weeks. There’s one scheduled for next week, too. Ugh. This exercise is tough on the teeth, but even more wearing on the wallet. Of course I could never really tell the latter to my colleagues who work within the walls of a formal workplace, where life in the bullpen and dental benefits are business as usual.

No ma’am, I wouldn’t dare utter a word of these woes of mine. Doing so would risk a barrage of comments like, “Well you get to work in your pj’s,” and, “At least you can make an appointment for any time you want.” True. Can’t argue with that. “But at least you get benefits,” I’d retort, using in my inside voice.

What does that mean, anyway — benefits? As Cyndy Trivella said in last night’s #TChat, “doggie daycare reimbursement and free dry-cleaning no longer cut it,” especially when career perk couture includes in-office massages and a workplace Nintendo Wii. Organizations are no longer in a war for talent. No, that would be too obvious; they’re instead operating in stealth mode, ninja recruiting with weapons of mass relaxation.

Innovation and entrepreneurship paired with good old-fashioned hard work have created a new era of “fringe” benefits. When I say fringe, I mean like the sci-fi TV show, where each episode unfolds another twist in the mystery of unexplained phenomena. In the real world, sci-fi is replaced by “start-up” and is a matter of fact.

As an entrepreneur I get that I won’t be able to access the Area 51 of benefits. This is my reality — but I also get some pretty sweet perks… like having a voice. Despite all the fancy tricks organizations are throwing around these days, it seems like they aren’t necessarily getting Recognition 101: Listening right. At least that’s what the #TChat community told us last night.

So the not-having-a-dental-plan thing isn’t sounding all that terrible now. I almost feel guilty saying I also get to travel to fantastic places on occasion (my recent Bermuda tan is a dead giveaway). And then there’s my upcoming trip to Chicago in early August for the 2012 Illinois State Society for Human Resource Management Conference.

OK, technically we’ll be outside of the city, but it’s to collaborate with TalentCulture co-founders Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman to host a live #TChat, so it’s still awesome. We’ll be part of the perk that the conference is (for many). And literally, we’ll be giving people a voice — a mic, speaker, the whole shebang — on a topic that’s about giving talent a voice (again, literally).

After all, that’s what its about — creating the space to ask what #TChat-ter and thought leader Vala Afshar says are the most important questions: “What do you think?” and “How can I help?” Then, its up to us, all of us, to “listen loudly.”

Community is the collective voice of #TChat and you exercised your voice last night, as you do every week. Thank you! To see what we mean, check out the slide show below. If you missed the preview, you can read it here. Stay tuned for additional information on our exciting collaboration with #ILSHRM12 and more, and if you’re attending, be sure to give us a shout-out in the stream and in person!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

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#TChat INSIGHTS: Give me a Break

#TChat INSIGHTS: Give me a Break

Storified by TalentCulture · Wed, Jul 18 2012 17:35:41

Only 60 minutes until #TChat! Preview: http://su.pr/1YbqQe http://pic.twitter.com/H4sC7lAC #workflex #usguysTalentCulture
Here I am w/ @ittechexec getting ready for back-2-back #tchat & #tcfchat gr8 forums for our techies! http://pic.twitter.com/7bCraow3rezlady
Q1: Extreme perks—are these examples of strong #leadership or something else (or both)? #TChatSalima Nathoo
A1: Don’t really have 1st hand recent experience with EP’s but would think in recovering economy it is necessary for retention. #TChatTom Bolt
A1: Extreme perks are a way for employers to be competitive and attract the best. Look at Silicon Valley’s competition for coders #tchatBright.com
A1: They are great examples of ways orgs try to put employees first in order to retain them & keep the environment comfortable #tchatJoshua Barger
A1: EP can be a short term fix but when the well runs dry, what is your next trick? #tchatJen Olney
A1: extreme persk seem to be more of a recruiting strategy I think. Candidates are in limited, well..the ones that comp want #tchatPlatinum Resource
A1 It seems the motivation behind “extreme perks” reflects the strength (or not) of the leadership ~ does that make sense? #tchatCASUDI
A1: In the right circumstance, both. If ur bribing an unhappy employee then no, if ur rewarding ur team then, yes #TChatBrandie McCallum
A1: Leadership has to be on board, friend has a 4 story slide @ his work, if ldrship didn’t encourage that it’d never exist! #tchatJess ‘Babs’ Bahr
A1 Workplace perks don’t have to be ‘extreme’ to be effective. Start w/”thank yous” and work up. #tchatSam Fiorella
A1: Opposite is not true: No EP’s does not necessarily indicate weak leadership. #TChatTom Bolt
A1: Compensation comes in many forms beyond cash. #tchatRob McGahen
A1 Not my area of expertise-but I would say this trend is the result of smart and innovative leadership/staying ahead of the curve. #TChatJanine Truitt
A1: With strong demand for extremely specialized skills, it’s strong leadership to offer extreme perks to attract and rtn these folks #tchatRichard S Pearson
A1: Extreme Perks can be seen as good leadership because they just want to make sure that they keep the the best employees #tchatJumpstart HR
A1 EP are good ex’s of strong, along w/ innovative, leadership & culture imo. Strong bc they recognize importance of ee’s #TchatClaire Crossley
YES! MRT @CzarinaofHR: A1 I would say this trend is the result of smart and innovative leadership/staying ahead of the curve. #TChatCyndy Trivella
A1. Leaders should be compensated/pai d well but have the sense to know what is too much #TchatDave Ryan, SPHR
A1: It seems such perks started as a way to reward best talent: Good Leadership! Have perks become the only way? Sustainable? #tchatMark Salke
A1 With cash compensation being scarce…it’s only natural that orgs find other innovative ways to reward & retain their employees #TChatJanine Truitt
Focus on retention not just attraction! MT @JumpstartHR: A1: EP good leadership b/c they want to make sure to keep the best employees #tchatJess ‘Babs’ Bahr
A1: It depends, sometimes extreme perks can be an example of poor #leadership, in other cases they are #motivating. #tchatBusinessWorldRising
A1:both? seems like some “perks” are really just treating ppl like adults w a brain & not worker bots who shd feel lucky 2 b employed #tchatErin Hommeland
#TChat a1: people spend a lot of time at work these days, EPs can attract candidates because their employer can make life a little easierAshley Lauren Perez
A1: Extreme perks = tricks often used 2 get ppl hired and keep them, but don’t look behind the curtain, Dorothy! #TchatStephen Van Vreede
A1 – I personally think paid for education, paid training courses, heath and fitness related perks are best – help emp. and co. grow #tchatRichard S Pearson
+1RT @JumpstartHR A1: Extreme Perks can be seen as good leadership becoz they just want to make sure they keep the the best employees #TChatPadma Mohanram
A1: If co can’t afford EP’s it is def not leadership. Incentives can be special T-shirt or coffee mugs. Attention is appreciated #TChatTom Bolt
A1: Torn on this one — how do #leaders look when times get tough & they must scale back the extreme perks? #TChatBrent Skinner
A1: Extreme perks on 1 side show desire to retain. On the other lack of sincere work ethic. #TchatBeverly Davis
A1: Ham at Christmas, turkey at Thanksgiving–not extreme perks but employees thought giver was best boss ever #TchatCareer Action
A1: Nothing beats the feeling of surprising an employee with an extreme perk #TChatSean Charles
A1: Supply donuts on Friday morning and watch “sick day” numbers drop!! #tchatSam Fiorella
A1: shows generosity and investing in the employer beyond just short term. #tchatPlatinum Resource
A1 Leaders keep an ear to the ground & know what would work in their culture as well as what is being done across their industry #TChatJanine Truitt
A1: Extreme perks can back fire. Give 2 much 2 soon & expectation for future rewards can get out of whack #TChatSean Charles
A1 “Extreme perks” may not necessarily be the ones most valued by employees. Leaders need to know what’s valued. #tchatJoe Sanchez
A1 Life is so busy for ee’s- an org that offers possibilities that will make life easier is bound to be the employer of choice #TChatJanine Truitt
Q2: Most of the economy is lagging. Is the tech market really all that different? What’s driving the generosity? #TChatSalima Nathoo
A2: The ever growing and changing demand for the next best thing is driving the generosity #tchatBusinessWorldRising
A2: Has to do with income and profitability. Tech usually leads and talent costs more. #TChatTom Bolt
A2 imo, budget alignment due to culture/sector difference. Recruiting & hi-turnover costly; spend $$ on retaining ee’s #TchatClaire Crossley
A2: If generosity becomes seen as entitlement it will be difficult to cut out EP’s when things go sour. #TChatTom Bolt
A2 Current generosity is a focus on keeping the best talent IMO > not all bad! #tchatCASUDI
A2: BIG Perks are a result of BIG competition, not BIG corporate generosity. #justsayin #tchatSam Fiorella
A2 – I’d suggest part of the generosity is that the industry grew in a new generation; more trad biz r trying to figure it out. #tchatJudi Samuels
A2: Just following up to Q1, really I think it’s a tool to stand out and attract the best talent. The benefits pay for themselves #tchatJoshua Barger
A2: #tech market can’t decide if there’s a talent shortage in US. Definitely is for select tech #jobs, so comps attracting talent #TchatStephen Van Vreede
A2: Perhaps lots of lessons learned from the tech bubble bursting. People are being smarter. #tchatRob McGahen
#TChat a2: they understand that all ppl r different and try to be innovative about offering alternative work environments. They take chancesAshley Lauren Perez
A2: It’s the People in the Tech Market that are differ, they are more creative, kno their staff #TChatBrandie McCallum
A2: Tech is 1 industry that is resistant to fluctuations in economy. A driving force for the economy & therefore makes its own rules #tchatP
latinum Resource
A2. If you got big profits – you can have big perks #NoProblem #TchatDave Ryan, SPHR
A2: I suspect market for talent is like any other… supply and demand drives pricing (comp and perks) #tchatCLOUDTalent
A2 Many orgs are turning to tech to improve inefficiencies and manual processes in an effort to streamline and get lean #TChatTeala Wilson
A2. #tech market is diff for ppl w/much needed, hard-2-find skills. Comps aren’t being generous; their eager to attract/retain. #tchatSheree Van Vreede
A2: In short, market forces driving #tech job market and perks offered. Always pesky fundamental truth of supply vs demand #TchatStephen Van Vreede
A2: It’s risk & reward – I’m willing to invest in big perks now so that EE productivity will pay them off in the long run #tchatBright.com
A2 The generosity in tech is driven by the in demand jobs and the cream of the crop talent they have to attract. #TChatJanine Truitt
A2: The tech market is always in demand and if they want to retain their employees, they have to be generous #tchatJumpstart HR
A2: It’s more about recognition. Recognize that ppl want to be appreciate in diff ways. Regularily. We make you $$ so pay it forward #tchatPlatinum Resource
A2 A lot of tech ppl worked for companies that sucked & didn’t appreciate the nerds, so they started a company and made it awesome #tchatJess ‘Babs’ Bahr
A2. Generosity seems to be an outcome of the evolution of sustainable employee engagement #TChatSalima Nathoo
A2: Creativity in tech is knowing what makes your folks tick, doesn’t have to be large, just has to inspire #tchatJen Olney
A2: Generosity comes from shortage of developers & engineers w very specialized skillsets: simple supply & demand despite bad economy #TchatWendy Beecham
A2: Money! People with big pockets are still investing heavily in Tech right now #Oracle #SalesForce #TChatSean Charles
A2: Tech industry knows how to tailor their perks. As long they are specific & relevant they are seen as generous. Pass the donut plz #tchatPlatinum Resource
A2 The tech industry is a different animal altogether. They are an industry driven by innovation so their perks must follow suit. #TChatJanine Truitt
A2: Tech market needs highly skilled workers, who are therefore in high demand. So, yes, it’s def diff. #TChatBrent Skinner
A2 – best perk stock options!!! Surprising how they motivate and attract talent!!! #tchatRichard S Pearson
A2: Since the dot com boom days, extreme perks have become part of the fabric of this industry’s culture. Candidates expect them. #tchatDave Ellis
Q3: How can companies in a competitive market for talent exercise #innovation in attracting and retaining talent? #TChatSalima Nathoo
A3: Attracting: Fast-track the hiring process so that black holes don’t suck the life out of the program. #TChatTom Bolt
A2: Supply and demand. Tech talent is limited. Competition is therefore stiff. May the best indoor playground win! #TChatJoel Peterson
A2: big skills gap is killing jobs and economic growth but those with skills and their tech employers are quite well #tchatJohn T. Lawrence
A3: Retaining talent: Promote a culture that listens to employees and respond…even if the answer is no, say something. #TChatTom Bolt
THIS -> MRT @czarinaofhr: A2 Tech industry is diff animal altogether, an industry driven by innovation so perks must follow suit. #TChatBrent Skinner
A3: Offering an exciting and enjoyable workplace b/c they need to be able to picture themselves working there #tchatJumpstart HR
A3 Doing that extra for your employees whether EP or inspiring them to make a difference :-) Best perk= making a difference! #tchatCASUDI
A3 Perks can be costly but not always necessary if orgs are innovative; sometimes it *is* the small things that matter! #TchatClaire Crossley
A3: The key is to tailor your brand and your perks to the talent types you want to attract #tchatBright.com
A3 Letting go of old insecurities around how an ee should be rewarded. Employers need to be accepting and willing to bend a little. #TChatJanine Truitt
A3: Make an effort to fill the individual needs of the employee; Just b/c no one else uses MS Project doesn’t mean I don’t want it! #tchatJess ‘Babs’ Bahr
A3. Ignite innovation at the personal brand level. Hire those who identify themselves w/innovation then let them unleash it. #TChatSalima Nathoo
#TChat A3: have employees create and suggest their own perks and let them be awarded it when they reach goals they set or themselves & teamAshley Lauren Perez
A3: innovative co attract/retain talent by allowing employees, who are also customers, speak to what’s next for the co #TChatBeverly Davis
A3: Be creative, and generous, with compensation packages. People will love you. #tchatRob McGahen
A3: Maintain a culture that rewards… excellence, loyalty, teamwork, innovation etc. Not just perks for the sake of perks #tchatDave Ellis
A3: Being purposeful when hiring: look beyond skills to fit- if they really fit and are committed 2 mission= retention + loyalty #TchatWendy Beecham
Straight to my heart MT @CASUDI A3 Doing extra 4 ur ees whether EP or inspirng to make a difference :-) Best perk=making a difference #tchatDeb Maher
A3: Even if there are extreme perks, not being able to wake up and be excited to go to work would not retain even the best talent #tchatJumpstart HR
A3. To fuel innovation – we must excepting of failures #tchatDave Ryan, SPHR
A3: Employee involvement in the process is huge – if you are offering perks that no one takes advantage of – are they really perks? #tchatJoshua Barger
A3 Really get to know your target candidate. Show up in places they wouldn’t expect to find you (But dont be a creepy stalker either) #TChatTeala Wilson
A3: Create the culture that attracts talent to seek out your company, not just for $$ but for innovation and leadership #tchatJen Olney
A3: Priority 1: value existing emps + retention of top performers, elim of poor performers…then attracting easier, less frequent #tchatStephen Van Vreede
A3: Attracting top talent is automatic when you build company that people WANT to work for. Simple as that. #tchatSensei Marketing
A3: Monetary compensation is primary, but for #innovation in #retention & #engagement, think beyond $$$ #TChatBrent Skinner
A3 Many orgs expect ee’s to do more w/ less of everything from resources to compensation and as a result employees are less engaged. #TChatJanine Truitt
A3: Let your team know everyday that they matter. It’s all in the experience not the outcome. #TChat #YouMatterSean Charles
A3: attract – w/ benefits/value. retain – w/ continuous recognition & value in the process + perks sporadically = #happyemployee #tchatPlatinum Resource
A3: In some industries monetary only goes so far – for some, it’s the culture, environment, and engagement in unique projects #tchatBright.com
#tchat a3: ask candidates what attracts them to the company and build off of that.Ashley Lauren Perez
A3: Innovation ok but not really necessary. Pay fairly and treat ppl w/ excellence. What more is needed? #tchatStephen Van Vreede
A3 If you’re a company that can’t afford a perk let alone an extreme perk try saying “thank you” once in awhile. It still works. #TChatJanine Truitt
A3: Leadership needs to be on purpose. Recognize >> Reward >> Repeat! #TChatSean Charles
MRT @CzarinaofHR: A3 If U R at a CO that can’t afford a perks try saying “thank you” once in awhile. It still works. #TChat <#TrythisDave Ryan, SPHR
A3: flex work schedules, open workspaces, open communication, casual dress and be willing to
pay for the best when u find them #tchatJohn T. Lawrence
#TChat a3: even if I didn’t get hired by a company, I’d be willing to network w them if it meant giving them ideas to help them & employeesAshley Lauren Perez
Q4: A healthy economy begets dynamic compensation & benefits for employees. How does HR technology figure in? #TChatSalima Nathoo
A4: Flexible and responsive HR tech will keep employees in the know and comfortable with the culture. #TChatTom Bolt
A4: HR also needs to learn how to collect, analyze and deliver big data to upper management…not poss w/o tech. #TChatTom Bolt
A4: working remotely! Why this isn’t standard is beyond me. We have the tech & capability. Would solve a lot of unemployment #tchatPlatinum Resource
A4: Using HR tech for performance reviews that provide the best perks to employees that contribute most to company’s success #tchatJumpstart HR
A4: I don’t agree with statement that “healthy economy begets dynamic compensation & benefits…” Is that based in fact? #TchatStephen Van Vreede
A4 Through the magic of #hrtech HR gets to tie what they know about employees needs to the business strategy-good ol’ hr analytics. #TChatJanine Truitt
A4: #HRTech can help to retain your top talent through social recognition programs. #TChatSean Charles
A4: Companies can afford more expensive #hrtech solutions, e.g., mobile tech for retail floor worker recognition. #TChatBrent Skinner
A4: This is an interesting one – using big data to determine needs and to analyze utilization of existing benefits perhaps #tchatJoshua Barger
A4. You can’t outsource or techify/digify/socialize (yes I made up words) pure human incentive. Or can you? #TChatSalima Nathoo
A4: #HR should be careful not to hide behind #tech. Easy to disengage from ppl #TchatStephen Van Vreede
A4: social 360 perf review program floats best talent to the top, kills good ol’ boy culture and inspires all #tchatJohn T. Lawrence
A4: It improves the work environment beyond compensation for all. #tchatRob McGahen
A4: HR Tech should include internal social networks for productivity, retention…& eventually new acquisitions. #tchatSam Fiorella
Q5: Are we cruisin’ for a bruisin’? Or is extremism in perks this time different than last time? Why or why not? #TChatSalima Nathoo
A5: Diff because not all companies are enjoying improved business or recovery from recession. #TChatTom Bolt
@SocialSalima A5: extremism is never a good position. #tchatSven Tilburg @ 40FS
A5: BTW, high profile executives with visible unrealistic perks are not good practice in any time. #TChatTom Bolt
A5: Bruisin comin…History teaches 1 thing…that we fail to learn from our mistakes =) #TchatStephen Van Vreede
A5: Comps. are conscious of the budget implications of these perks. If it becomes too much and not maintainable, things can be cut #tchatBright.com
A5: For some companies EP are about looking good NOT being good, they need to reflect the good culture not lack of #tchatJess ‘Babs’ Bahr
A5 Balance is necessary. Re: perks I think consistency is a must but over-rewarding is against the law of human conditioning. #TChatJanine Truitt
A5 imo, not extreme only rare & culture-based. Signing bonus (as @DebAMaher ment’d) costly but different perk & culture #TchatClaire Crossley
A5: Hopefully orgs have learned to do more with less since 2008 and make attractive perks w/out putting them in the red #tchatJoshua Barger
A5: *Extreme Recognition* is the silver bullet. Without it $$$ will only take you so far #TChatSean Charles
A5 Companies are stretching ee’s too thin and haven’t even scratched the surface of offering proper perks. Let’s get back to basics! #TChatJanine Truitt
A5: Perhaps because the rest of the economy is struggling, that thought will linger in perk extremists’ minds. #TChatBrent Skinner
A5: Co that do good always do better. Focus on doing good and you will grow big. Focus on being big and you’ll be so big you’ll fail #tchatBeverly Davis
A5 What is considered an extreme perk? This would change depending on diverse backgrounds and values #TChatTeala Wilson

Path to Independence and PotHoles: #TChat Recap

When I crafted the poll question “How do you classify yourself in today’s workforce?”, I considered a variety of answers from full-time temp to contractor to consultant to business owner, but I never considered one of the write-in responses:

Unemployed.

That one floored me, because I conveniently tucked away in the back of my mind (and heart) the path many of us take from being “regularly” employed to being an independent — whether that’s a contractor, consultant, business owner or entrepreneur.

The path to independence is riddled with pot holes.

Whether it’s by choice (I’m leaving to start my own gig), or not (we’re going to have to let you go), making the leap without a net, which most of us don’t really have, is not for the feint of heart.

Trust me. It’s not. Sometimes the pot holes are way too deep.

You can argue the pros and cons of a greater contingent workforce, but it’s here and here to stay. Those who can better “sell” themselves — and who can actually do the work — will generate revenue streams for themselves, although maintaining cash flow can be difficult, just like many small business experience. That’s because “independents” are in the business of “Me.” Actually, we all are these days.

Downturns inspire many to try their hands at entrepreneurism, and although technological advancements have reduced the typical barriers to entry in many marketplaces, unfortunately many will fail. But like the path independence above, innovation knows no other way.

There are just no guarantees when it comes to employment and employers aren’t providing the same level of benefits they used to. I didn’t research any stats for that statement, but the fact is the way in which we work and are compensated for it continues to evolve, for better and for worse. Entitlements be gone. Personal ownership and multiple income channels be here.

Forty percent of the poll respondents said they were full-time permanent, while 35% said they were consultants (you can see the results graph below).

Last night’s topic was deeply personal to me considering the last 12 months of my professional journey. My recommendations to full-time employees and consultants alike?

  • Underestimate your “marketplace”
  • Overestimate your “sales cycle”
  • Stay hungry without growing hungry
  • Don’t wait for something to happen to you — make it happen for you
  • Keep yourself in good physical, mental and emotional health
  • Back fill the pot holes
  • And repeat the cycle every, single, day

You can see the #TChat reach here, and these were last night’s questions:

Q1: Poll: How do you classify yourself in today’s workforce? Full-time, part-time, temp – what? http://svy.mk/fKCdxW
Q2: Has the latest downturn created more independents and “entrepreneurs”? Why?
Q3: What challenges are there transitioning from employed to independent or vice versa?
Q4: What’s the difference between a contractor, a temp or a consultant, if any?
Q5: What’s behind the rise in companies use in contingent workers and contractors? Good thing? Bad?
Q6: Do companies have different hiring standards for contingent workers?  Should they?
Q7: How has technology changed the employment mix? Increased startups?
Q8: So, are job titles now obsolete? How should we rethink careers and the why of work?

Make sure to read Monster Thinking’s “pre-cap” if you haven’t: The Changing Identities of Today’s Workforce.

Thank you all for joining us last night. Next week’s topic is tentatively “Globilization — not just for the enterprise any more.”