generation z

2017 marks the first year Generation Z will enter the workforce. These Centennials will bring a new culture with them, known for being more diverse, resilient and open than their Millennial counterparts.

While 37% of Centennials fear they will not find a job that fits their personality, this presents a new challenge for human resource professionals to understand this new demographic and reach them with strategic content that is relevant to them.

Here are a few things HR needs to know about this new generation of workers:

The Perk Generation

Gallup recently released a report on the State of the American Workforce. In the report they state that “the benefits and perks that employees truly care about are those that offer them greater flexibility, autonomy and the ability to lead a better life.” Millennials are more likely to change jobs due to perks, and the Centennial generation is no different. They are seeking out more independence and flexibility as the world becomes more mobile.

The Entrepreneur Generation

Along the same lines of independence, it should not surprise us that Generation Z is also more entrepreneurial. In fact, 37 percent of Generation Z said they are interested in starting their own company. This could be due to the Millennial generation paving the way with startup technology companies popping up left and right, plus an increased access to educational resources on sites like Udemy, Skillshare, and more.

The Happiness Generation

Millennials have been known to seek growth opportunities over salary. As Generation Z enters the workforce we are finding the same trend. A staggering 77 percent see job satisfaction as equal to or more important than salary. Again, this ties into perks and an overall compensation package that includes more than just the standard healthcare and retirement packages. Centennial employees want a place that makes their life a little easier.

The Mentor Generation

A surprising fact about Gen Z is that they don’t always prefer to communicate via social media and other technologies. 51 percent actually say they prefer in-person communications with managers as opposed to emailing or instant messaging. This also ties into their need for mentors. While they don’t want a micro-manager breathing over their shoulder, Generation Z does have a strong need for leadership and mentorship. They seek opportunities for growth over salary increases, craving feedback and direction from their managers. If they don’t find these opportunities, well, then they are not motivated to stick around.

Generation Z and the Millennial generation may not be all that fundamentally different, but finding ways to appeal to their needs and wants will ensure your company has the competitive edge in the war for talent.

It’s officially February. Which means, most of us are officially OVER winter. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is real and it affects workers all over the U.S.. In fact, one Chicago teacher filed a discrimination lawsuit against her school district in 2009 when they refused to accommodate her Seasonal Affective Disorder.

working with seasonal affective disorder

When temps are below freezing, most of us want to stay in the comfort of our own home with a hot cup of coffee, which makes going to work not so fun.

If the season’s got you down, here are a few ways to fight back against SAD this winter.

Exercise

There is arguably nothing better for your mental health than exercise. When the winter blues kick in, hit the gym or take a yoga class. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has found that people who regularly exercise have lower levels of tension, more stable moods, and even sleep better. Plus, you might even shed a few pounds while you’re at it. Win-win.

Invite Distractions

One of the best ways to combat SAD is to stay busy. Make plans with friends to work out or grab dinner after work. By having something to look forward to, you’ll distract your brain from thinking about the winter weather and focus on all the fun you’re having. Plus, plans with friends mean you have someone holding you accountable to get up and get out of your sweatpants.

Upgrade Your Environment

If your work space feels a little drab, consider ways to liven it up. Add some greenery to your space or pick up a light box to revamp your work environment. Planning a vacation? Print out pictures to keep you motivated and remind you that these few months are only temporary.

Consult a Professional

While these hacks might work for most, if you find your symptoms aren’t going away, it could be time to speak with a professional. In fact, one in five Americans suffer from some form of mental illness, while less than half of these are actually seeking help for their condition. No matter how mild your depression may seem, if it isn’t showing signs of fading, consider speaking with someone so you can get back to being your best self.

Are you finding ways to fight SAD this year? Tell us about it in the comments or subscribe for more insights!

Previously on the PerkSpot blog we explored the upcoming trends for 2017. Among these, and quite possibly one of the largest we’ll see sprouting up next year, is an improved candidate experience. More and more companies are realizing the importance of their recruitment process – not just for potential employees, but potential customers as well.

Give the candidate a great experience, and they’ll hold your brand in high-esteem. Reject them with a standard email, and a social media rant might be in your future.

Whether you’re a company of 10 or 10,000, here are some keys to improving your candidate experience in 2017:

Step One: Respond.

Ok, so you might be recruiting for 30 different positions and your inbox is out of control. Whether it’s a standard auto-reply or a personalized email, make sure you provide some guidelines for when the candidate can expect to hear back from you, when it’s ok to follow-up, and any next steps for the interview process. While it may be acceptable to ghost someone after a bad date, it’s not ok to do it to your job candidates. Need some help with what to say? Trello does this really well.

improve your candidate experience perkspot

Step Two: Show, don’t Tell.

Most interviews consist of round after round of intensive questioning. Take your interview process to the next level by giving candidates a “guide” for the day. This person will give them a tour of the office, introduce them to current employees, help them find the bathroom and something to drink, and anything else they might need to know. Ensuring the candidate feels comfortable will help them perform their best and also give you insight into how they’ll function in your office on a day-to-day basis.

Step Three: Provide Feedback

Spare your candidates the “We’ve decided to go in a different direction” email. Provide concrete reasons why they weren’t a great fit for this position. Be delicate and let them know where they fell short. If you don’t give them specific feedback, they’ll never know how to improve. In fact, 70% of employers don’t provide candidates with feedback. How you decide to let them down will arguably have the greatest effect on your brand. Let them down easy, but transparently.

improve your candidate experience

Step Four: Ask for Feedback

What better way to gauge how you’re doing than from someone who has walked the walk? At this point, you’ve given the candidate your feedback, so make sure you provide them the same opportunity. Give them an anonymous survey to complete detailing their experience with your company. How was the recruitment process? Was there anything unexpected? What did they like about the interview process? How could it be improved? Make sure you share their feedback with everyone involved in order to improve your process in the future.

How will you improve your candidate experience in 2017? Let us know in the comments!

transparency inclusion executive team

Right after college, I stepped into a role at an international company with thousands of employees. Given the size of the company and its various locations, there was a major divide between the executives and the entry-level employees like myself. The CEO was someone I had only seen from a distance in a boardroom with other executives.

Coming to PerkSpot, the interaction between the executive team and other employees is drastically different than what I had previously experienced. Transparency is a value we promote and work to make a part of our culture and it was evident from day one. At PerkSpot the CEO is no longer this distant figure, but someone who knows each of us on a personal level. The Executive team is not a group that spends time in secret meetings behind closed doors, but who gathers input from employees in order to make informed and inclusive high-level decisions. Transparency is part of our everyday life here, and it makes all the difference.

After experiencing the difference transparency makes, I know firsthand how important it can be. But, this isn’t unique to my personal experiences. In a 2014 report by the American Psychological Association, one out of three employees stated that their employer was not always honest and truthful with them. The need for transparency is obvious.

Here are a few reasons why transparency should become a part of every culture:

Transparency Solves Problems

Whether your company is undergoing a major change or looking to improve performance, transparency can help you solve problems faster. Transparency around the issues you face help employees learn to trust their leadership and gain ownership in solving problems. Forming a more inclusive culture brings a fresh approach and a new set of eyes. Therefore, leaders solve the problem faster than if they had just kept the facts among executives.

Transparency Makes Things Personal

Nothing brings people closer together than solving problems. As the world becomes more interconnected through digital media, this is becoming increasingly more important. Employees want leaders who will connect with them beyond the professional and into the personal.  By providing opportunities for executives to interact with other members of the organization, relationships can form authentically.

Transparency Improves Culture

A 2016 survey of more than 1,200 employees, managers and executives discussed a major chasm in company culture. It discovered the more seniority a person has in an organization, the more positively they viewed company culture. This proves how vital it is that the various levels within the organization are interacting. It’s important not only to uncover any negative feelings the employees may be harboring, but to also reveal the positive outlooks senior management may have due to a greater access of information.

As Generation Z enters the workforce this year, transparency is becoming all the more important. Whether you’re the CEO, a manager, or an intern, find ways to be more transparent about the problems you’re facing.

As one of the most prominent leaders of the past century, there are many lessons we can learn from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on leadership, courage, and adversity.

martin luther king leadership

In celebration of Dr. King’s birthday on January 15th, here are a few ways you can embrace his spirit of leadership all year round:

Embrace Fear

Unmistakably, one of Dr. King’s greatest attributes was his courage. Facing extreme adversity, He always stood up for what he believed in and never wavered in his passion. Even after his death, his legacy lived on to fuel the Civil Rights Movement in America. While your dreams may not evoke the intense opposition that Dr. King faced, you can still retain your passion regardless of any adversity that may come your way. Don’t let fear of what others might say keep you from speaking out and working towards your goals.

Dream Big

The four famous words from Dr. King inspired a nation to stand behind him: “I Have a Dream…” While our dreams may not change the course of human history, we should still continue to have them. Dreams are what inspire and motivate us to continue. You’ve probably made a lot of plans for 2017. But this year, remember the reasons why you want to accomplish your specific goals, and let that push you to go further. After all, having a plan is nearly as exhilarating as having a dream.

Communicate Clearly

An excellent communicator, Dr. King spent his life influencing others through his words. Although a conference room presentation might not invoke the same emotion and response as Dr. King’s famous speech, it is still important that we communicate clearly and effectively. After you’ve clearly assessed your vision and dream, remember to spend time focusing on how to communicate this to others. Empower them through your words and take time to understand their perspective.

There are countless ways Martin Luther King, Jr. has continued to inspire us, even generations later. Let’s follow his example of embracing fear, dreaming big and communicating clearly in 2017.

It should be no surprise that among the top trends for 2017 in human resources is improved wellness programs. The combination of an increased desire for a healthy lifestyle and more involvement from upper management has put wellness at the forefront of the human resources department. 

Needless to say, we have work to do. In fact, the Flex + Strategy Group blog noted that 25% of employees do not have the option of a wellness/wellbeing program at their workplace. However, 20% said that although they do not participate in a corporate wellness program (either for lack of interest or opportunity), they still pursue wellness programs on their own. Evidence that there are not enough, and certainly not the appropriate, opportunities available in the workplace, paving the way for needed improvement in 2017.

Here are a few ways we see wellness programs advancing in the upcoming year:

Competition vs. Rewards for Wellness Initiatives

wellness initiatives 2017

With the EEOC’s Final Rule on Employer Wellness Programs we expect to see a decrease in the amount of financial incentives for wellness programs and a trend towards more friendly competition in the workplace. 91% of employees said they would engage in healthier behaviors if they were rewarded, according to a survey from Welltok, which proves there is still a need to incentivize behavior. But with the rise in wearables and other technology, we can anticipate more Fitbit challenges and competitions in our future.

A Focus on Mental Health

wellness initiatives 2017

Mental and behavioral health conditions cost employers around $104 billion each year, while only 41% of employees say their employer helps them meet mental health needs. As wellness programs become more holistic, we find a trend towards more engagement in the mental health realm.  Helping employees take control of their mental health not only improves retention, but productivity as well. Whether it’s implementing more mindfulness practices or on-site counseling, there are many opportunities for employers to engage employees in this way.

Highlighting Financial Wellness

wellness initiatives 2017

Many employers made the headlines last year for offering student loan repayment and tuition assistance. However, this is not financially viable for all companies. However, we do anticipate more education being provided around financial wellness for employees. According to Aon Hewitt, nearly 89% of employers plan on implementing tools to expand their financial health focus. The main reason? “To increase employee engagement”.  From budgeting classes to debt management, expect to see more financial education in the workplace this year.

 

2017 should bring some exciting changes to the workplace as employers work towards a more comprehensive program. How is your company improving wellness this year? What new programs are you implementing?

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2017 HR Trends to Watch

2017 hr trends watch

As little as ten years ago Human Resources was primarily defined as the department in charge of payroll and benefits. Thanks to technology,  these more administrative functions have been automated, making room for more innovation and putting the focus on the “human” aspect of this department.

As we await for the ball drop and the ringing in of the new year, here are a few HR trends we can look forward to in 2017:

Recruitment

In 2016, 60% of job seekers reported a poor candidate experience and 72% of these candidates shared their experience via Glassdoor.com or other employer review services. Companies like Virgin Media are paving the way for an improved candidate experience. When Virgin discovered they were losing an average of $7 million in revenue due to weaknesses in their recruitment process, they began to analyze what they could do differently. They created a better candidate experience and in turn, improved ROI. We expect to see more of this in 2017 as employers seek to create a reformed experience for job-seekers.

The Gig Economy

The blended workforce is becoming increasingly more common in the modern workforce. With 93% of companies hiring freelance workers alongside full-time employees, we expect to see an even greater increase in 2017. In fact, a staffing industry report shared that total spending on the U.S. Gig Economy is close to $800 billion. With our economy becoming even more contingent on these workers, this presents new challenges for the HR professional as they seek to make these employees more of a focal point for employee engagement.  

Generation Z

2017 marks the first year Generation Z will enter the workforce. These Centennials will bring a new culture with them, known for being more diverse, resilient and open than their Millennial counterparts.

While 37% of Centennials fear they will not find a job that fits their personality, this presents a new challenge for human resources professionals to understand this new demographic and reach them with strategic content that is relevant to them.

Retention

CareerBuilder’s 2016 Candidate Behavior study found “Although 76 percent of full-time, employed workers are either actively looking for a job or open to new opportunities, nearly half (48 percent) of employers can’t seem to find the workers they need to fill their job vacancies.” Employers also stated it takes anywhere from 26-34 days to fill an open position. In a world where time is money, it’s certain more employers will be taking more measures to decrease the amount of time and energy spent to find qualified candidates.

Wellness

A study by Willis Towers Watson, showed that while 75% of U.S. employers believe stress is their number one health and productivity issue, employers and employees can’t seem to agree on its cause. Alleviating stress has become a top concern for many companies. The American Psychological Association, however, reports less than half of workers say their organization supports their well-being, with one in three reporting chronic stress while on the job.  Evidence that we still have a long way to go in creating a more relaxed, stress-free environment in the workplace.

What are the trends you’re looking out for in 2017?

employee engagement during holidays

For many employees, the holidays invoke a myriad of emotions. Some relish in the memories shared with close friends and families. Others are overwhelmed and stressed by gift lists. Meanwhile, a small few may be dealing with heartache and loss that comes to light this time of year.

Beyond the potluck meals and holiday celebrations, there are many ways we can engage employees in a meaningful way during this season.

Communicate Expectations

The only thing worse than working on a holiday is unexpectedly working on a holiday. Set the stageahead of time for any additional hours employees may be expected to work beyond the norm. And if they are having to work during the season, ensure you are providing recognition and post-holiday recovery time. If your company is not particularly busy this time of year, make sure you communicate office closures with plenty of time for employees to make their travel plans. Take this opportunity to highlight your workplace flexibility to ensure employees use this time wisely to recharge and come back re-energized in the new year.

Prioritize Goals

As you wrap up the year, it can be tempting to squeeze in those last-minute projects to reach your year-end goals. But often it’s better to wait until the new year to start new projects to ensure they receive the quality attention they deserve. The holidays are fraught with distraction and can be a difficult time to accomplish even everyday tasks. Make sure any extras you’re piling on their plates are 100% necessary and you’re enabling employees to complete these tasks to the best of their abilities. By prioritizing only the necessary, you’ll be doing your employees, and yourself, a major favor.

Consider Perspectives

The most obvious struggle for human resources, office managers or just workplace party-planners is finding the balance between festive and offensive. From the office decor to the tunes playing in the background, it can be difficult to please everyone. Remember to keep an open mind and listen to what employees want and how they want to celebrate the season. Every workplace is different so try surveying your employees to get a feel for what makes this time special to them.

Celebrate Thoughtfully

While we generally think of this season as a “jolly” time, for some people this year may be the toughest. Remember to navigate the holidays with sensitivity for those who may be dealing with a hard situation. Maybe it’s highlighting in-house grief counseling or sending a small note to someone to let them know you’re thinking of them. Each situation is different and every relationship unique. Let them know you recognize what they’re going through and provide a safe space to talk about it.

Year-end celebrations are a wonderful time to reconnect with your employees and revel in all you’ve accomplished this year; just remember to treat this time with sensitivity, respect and, of course, have fun!

human resources internal communications strategy

This week PerkSpot joined a panel discussion along with fellow HR experts hosted by the Illinois Technology Association. While the panel largely focused on employee perks, a natural side effect of the conversation revolved around communication.

HR professionals are in the business of people. And we all know nothing is more valuable in relationships than communication. You can have the best mission statement in the world, but if none of your employees know it… how valuable is it? What about that new perk you decided to roll out that no one is using? Why pay money for perks and benefits if no one is going to use it?

As you strive to promote culture in your organization, here are a few ways to develop a strong internal communications strategy:

Understanding Expectations

Before you can communicate well, you have to understand your audience and their expectations. Generational differences are among some of the great challenges organizations face in communicating effectively.  

When you develop your plan, ask these questions first:

  • What generation am I targeting with this message? Millennials, Baby Boomers, A combination? Consider gender, socioeconomic status, and any other factors that may come into play.
  • How does this audience prefer to receive information? Through technology or with a face-to-face meeting?
  • What does the audience already know about this offering? Have they requested this particular perk or is it totally new to them?

Packaging Communications

In the modern-day workplace everyone is a communicator. Whether that’s at the water cooler or in a formal conference room, the fact of the matter is that employees talk. While we can’t always ensure everything employees have to say is in favor of the company, we can play a role in how we disseminate the information in the first place.

One interesting perspective at the panel discussion came from the moderator, Laurence Marx, CEO and Co-founder of EmphasisHR, who likened a specific perk to Apple’s iPhone. So much of what made the iPhone such a phenomenon was the branding and marketing strategy they used to communicate all its added benefits. As we seek to circulate information among our companies, we can also recruit our marketing staff to help us package the perk in such a way that engages employees and provides a natural way for them to talk about it. As Marx stated on the panel, “put it in a cool wrapper”. Make your messaging as unique as the perk you’re offering.

Navigating Changes

Another issue arose as we talked around this idea of communications and HR. What do we do when we need to make a change to our current offering? For example, let’s say you’re developing a new benefits plan and you need to communicate the changes to your employees. Your goal is to make the information as clear as possible, while also addressing any concerns they may have with this new change. You should outline the new plan and how it aligns with your company’s overall goals. For example, maybe this new benefits plan offers a discount on gym memberships, which aligns your company’s wellness values as a whole.

Maybe you’re rolling out a new perk that employees have been requesting for a while, but you’re unsure of how effective this will be or how long it will be possible to sustain. Try setting the expectation ahead of time that this perk might not be permanent. “We’re trying this out for a year…” By communicating with honesty and transparency, you’re less likely to deal with disgruntledness down the line.

Reviving Constants

There are so many companies out there offering amazing incentives for their employees. In fact, some of these have been providing perks for over 10+ years. This brings us to our final question – How do we incentivize employees who are used to all the perks that their company has to offer?

This again goes back to the idea of your packaging. Make sure you’re not communicating with the same flier today that you were using in 1997. Find new ways to package the information to make sure it reaches employees in the right place and time.

Still not seeing results? Remember that all perks are not created equal. Evaluate your offerings to make sure they’re still relevant. Another great idea came from Margaret Hermes, Senior Manager of Benefits at Groupon who shared with the room that they’ve created Employee Resource Groups specifically focused on different demographics. They use these groups to gather information and make sure everyone’s voice is heard and valued.

In a recent survey, 36% of employees said they would give up $5,000 a year in salary to be happier at work.  By using these insights to develop a strong, clear communications strategy around our perks, we can increase employee happiness and in turn see a significant increase in ROI.

At PerkSpot we know that one size does not fit all when it comes to your total rewards package. That’s why with our clients we value personalization throughout every stage of the process. With over 500 diverse discounts and counting, there truly is something for everyone.

One of the greatest challenges for leadership today is keeping up with the rapid changes in their industry. As communication tools and cultural norms begin to morph, it can be difficult for leaders not only to keep up with the necessary changes, but to implement them in a way that is healthy for the company.

When we approach change in our organizations, there are three guiding principles we should follow.  

Clarity

change management tips for human resources professionals

There’s nothing worse than being faced with a big decision or new change and not understanding why it’s happening. Getting employees involved in the decision is key to ensuring its success. In fact, Torben Rick, an operational and change management expert, says the key to implementing change in a successful way is to tell a compelling story. Rick states “before leaders can get buy-in, people need to feel the problem. People aren’t going to consider anything until they are convinced there is a problem that truly needs to be addressed.” Provide clarity on what problem this new change is solving and offer insights into any other possible solutions you may have explored before landing on this one. You may find that employees not only support your decision, but become change agents themselves.

Transparency

change management tips for human resources professionals

This goes hand in hand with clarity, but it’s also important that you don’t just talk about the benefits this new change will bring, but also the challenges. The sad truth is that 70% of all change initiatives fail. As a leader, explain why this risk will ultimately bring rewards. As a basic guide, your conversation around changes should include answers to the following questions:

  • Why is this change necessary?
  • What actually is going to change and how does this affect each of us?
  • When will we introduce and implement this change?
  • How do we communicate this change?
  • What will determine that this has been successful?
  • What challenges will this change bring?
  • How can we motivate and support people during this change?

Beyond these questions, offer to address any specific concerns employees may have, and follow through on that promise. Transparency offers the opportunity to shape the conversation into a more positive and exciting tone that could otherwise be one of confusion or fear.

Humility

change management tips for human resources professionals

Someone once said “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less”. We don’t often pair humility with great leadership, but we should! Understated, but incredible valuable, humility is a quality that every leader should possess. Humility drives leaders to think about how others might be feeling in a certain situation and empathize with their concerns. This is especially important when dealing with new information or even a shift in the organization. However big or small the change might be, by practicing empathy, we can ensure our employees feel heard and understood. In fact,  what they’re trying to tell you may surprise you.

Have you dealt with a large change in your organization? What are the hurdles you overcame? Share your advice in the comments!

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