There is a lot of information out there about millennials. From hopes and dreams to workplace perks, everyone is trying to figure out what makes them tick. But are we analyzing this group accurately? Generally, we imagine an older manager surrounded by an office of disgruntled young professionals. The fictitious manager often struggles with decisions like signing off on work-from-home policies and catering pizza parties for the office.

But is this reality?

As millennials become the largest population in the workplace, they are also filling a significant amount of managerial roles. This change brings a new dynamic to the workplace: The Millennial Manager.

millennial manager perkspot culture

To truly dive into this topic, we interviewed Michael DeRose, Staffing and Compensation Manager at the Michigan Department of Transportation. Throughout his decade of experience, Michael has insight not only as a Millennial Manager but an HR expert as well.

We asked him to share his thoughts on life as a Millennial Manager in a world of baby boomers.

Here’s what he had to say:

Tell me a little bit about yourself!

Currently, I am the Staffing & Compensation Manager for the Michigan Department of Transportation. I worked in state government for just over 10 years after obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Michigan State University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Western Michigan University.

When did you reach management level? Was it challenging to “prove” yourself as a millennial?

I became a manager about 2 ½ years ago, after working in various HR roles for the State of Michigan for about 8 years. Thankfully, I am lucky to be surrounded by incredible direct reports and colleagues within my office but I certainly felt, and continue to feel, a pressure to prove myself. I am the youngest member of just about any meeting of organizational leaders. Whether feeling the need to prove myself is perception or reality is tough to discern, but I certainly feel like I have more to prove than colleagues that are 10, 20, or 30 years my senior.

What frustrates you about fellow millennials?

Feelings of entitlement are frustrating to me. This is not exclusive to millennials but I often speak with millennials that are frustrated about not getting a job, not getting a raise, etc. Millennials are an instant gratification generation. We can click a few buttons on our phone and have a new television delivered in 2 days, we bank from home and on the go, find answers in the blink of an eye, and connect with complete strangers in a matter of seconds online. I think some Millennials struggle when things aren’t granted to them immediately. That is probably my biggest frustration, especially working in a very large organization.

How do you measure performance as a manager?

For me, measurement is two-fold. I rely heavily on ongoing feedback from my staff and our customers. I find this to be important and I think it helps to have a general understanding of how things are going. Additionally, I try to utilize metrics as much as possible. I want to have data to back up the feedback that I receive. For example, I trust when my staff tells me it has been a busy year. However, I run a report of all application activity for the department at the end of each year. Not only is the data useful for determining inefficiencies and process improvements, it provides a great starting point for more discussion with staff.

What are some strengths you feel you bring to the table as a Millennial in management?

I think being a millennial allows me to see possibilities for significant, and rapid, growth. Millennials have come of age in an era where the Internet transformed the world. I think this backdrop allows me to feel that significant and rapid change is achievable. Additionally, I think I have strengths in the ability to understand and utilize technology to solve problems and create efficiencies. I’m no technology expert. However, I have a good enough understanding to know what may or may not be possible if the technology experts are brought in.

What is one common misconception you think millennial managers get?

One misconception that I think millennial managers get is that we aren’t solely focused on technology “because we are Millennials.”  I think Millennials, at least I know this is the case for me, are just as uncomfortable with an archaic paper process as baby boomers are with newer technologies. In other words, we’re not just trying to use technology to “try something new”. We just feel more comfortable with the efficiency and convenience that technology provides.

What is one thing you wish Baby Boomers (coworkers or superiors) knew about you?

I hope my coworkers and superiors know that I value loyalty. The idea of a 30-year career with a pension and a gold watch ceremony upon retirement is appealing to me. That is simply not the work world I entered into. Millennials may want different things (I.e. Flexibility, career changes, etc.) but we are also presented with significantly different options than our predecessors. The removal of the pension (in most cases) is huge.

What are the weaknesses of being a millennial manager?

I think my greatest weakness related to being a millennial is understanding co-workers from other generations. It can be difficult to explain how a computer document is more efficient than paper documents. For example, when the individuals I’m explaining it to may have a strong comfort level with a paper process. I think it’s important to try to understand everyone’s view and communicate accordingly.

What trends do you see emerging in millennial management?

I think the biggest trend is that Millennials now make up the largest group in the country! Before we know it, millennials will make up a large majority of the workforce. Many of the generational differences will be between millennials and Generation Z, instead of with Generation X or baby boomers. It will be interesting to see how typical millennial traits change as millennials settle down, start families, and more closely align with previous generations, albeit at a later age.

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Chances are Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook are natural parts of your everyday life, but there’s one social network that really gets it. No, it won’t tell you which FRIENDS character you are, and it may not update you on where your friends took their latest tropical vacation. But, there are so many reasons why every professional needs LinkedIn.
why every professional needs linkedin

Networking, duh

Let’s be honest, whether you’re the life of the party or a homebody, there are very few people who actually love attending networking events. It feels a lot like cold-calling, but in real life. That’s not to say there isn’t value in these events, but LinkedIn provides an excellent platform to engage with influencers in the industry in a non-intrusive way. You can join groups to see what others in your field are discussing. It’s a great way to meet others, learn from experts and by posting, provide value to others. No matter if you’re a Human Resources Professional or a Civil Engineer, there is a group for everyone.  

Higher quality, less fluff

One turn that many other social mediums have taken is the increase of irrelevant content. So many Facebook feeds are filled with advertisements, recipe videos and BuzzFeed listicles. With LinkedIn, on the other hand, I am able to follow key influencers who post content that is relevant to my work. Need help with a certain issue? Pose the question in a group and others will respond with articles and discussions to provide insights and answers to whatever challenges you’re facing.  Plus, you never know who you might meet.

Moving on up

Career advancement is a huge reason why most people have a LinkedIn. It’s a great place to search for jobs, find new companies, and get noticed by top recruiters. See your dream job? Try searching the company name to find the person who posted it. Obviously, be careful with your approach and don’t go spamming everyone who posts something you’re slightly interested in. But with passion and respect, shoot them a message asking them to connect and informing them of what makes you great for the position.

*P.S.: Regardless of your profession, make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and engaging. There’s a common misconception that your profile should read like a resume. While, yes, a lot of the information is the same, the tone is not. This is your chance to add some personality to your experience, so take advantage of the opportunity to market yourself.

With thoughtful content, inspiring influencers, and a great opportunity for advancement, LinkedIn should become your new favorite social network. 

millennial american dream perkspot

The Millennial generation, lovers of Facebook, the selfie, and on-demand technology, view the world through a different lens. And when it comes to the idea of the American dream, this is no exception. Yes, a successful career, a loving family and financial security are still as desired by millennials as their predecessors. But their means of achieving these successes is changing quite a bit. In fact, they may think these achievements look entirely different than their parents did.

The Millennial Career Dream

While the Baby Boomers and Generation X sought to earn a good wage and advance in their career, millennials are diving a little deeper. Facing the tragedy of September 11th, increasing gun violence, and the War on Terror, this generation is seeking to make a change. No longer is a paycheck enough to keep them satisfied at their nine-to-five. More important to these echo-boomers is making a difference in the world around them and being happy with their work. Sounds simple, but like many things, a closer look proves satisfaction in the workplace is more complex than it appears.

The Huffington Post reports that 67 percent of millennials want to be entrepreneurs. This entrepreneurial spirit is ingrained in this generation, giving them a greater appreciation for independence and autonomy. To them, a successful career is defined by freedom and opportunity to grow and learn. This, however, is not in the traditional corner-office type of way. Job titles and fancy views aren’t enough to keep them satisfied. But give them a chance to learn something new and change the world, and you will discover what they can accomplish.

The Millennial Family Dream

The American dream, however, goes beyond just having a career. For many, this ideal also encompasses strong family values and creating a better life for the next generation. This is a far cry from the stereotyped “Me Generation” . But just because millennials aren’t having kids right now doesn’t mean they never will, says an article in Bloomberg.

PEW Research Center reported in 2013 that fewer than half of U.S. kids today live in a ‘traditional’ family. Because millennials have grown up in these non-traditional environments, many are waiting to start their families until they are emotionally and financially ready in order to provide a more stable and sustainable family environment. Which often means starting a family later in life. But, according to a Gallup survey, only 5% of Americans say they don’t want kids, up only 1% from 1990. So just because they aren’t married by 30, doesn’t mean they never get married. It just might take them a little longer than it did in the 70’s.

The Millennial Financial Dream

Another possible reason millennials are waiting to start a family is due to an increase in financial problems. While the “rags to riches” stories of generations past may be lost on these Americans, they are no strangers to financial hardship. Graduating in the middle of the recession, this generation has struggled to find jobs and, adding insult to injury, battled the weight of student loan debt. For that reason, financial security ranks high among the priorities of millennials. Not for the purpose of putting a car in the garage or buying that house with the white picket fence, but for many millennials the goal is financial freedom from the overwhelming debts.

Understanding how millennials view the world and their hopes for the future will provide insights into our workplaces and our homes. While the American Dream lives on in this generation, the methods and goals have changed quite a bit. One thing, however, will never change: the American Dream is what drives this country and will continue to do so for generations to come.

retention before recruitment

According to JB Training Solutions, “91% of Millennials expect to stay in a job for less than 3 years”. And with Millennials making up the largest part of the workforce, we definitely have our work cut out for us when it comes to retaining these individuals. As younger employees begin switching jobs more frequently, the effects are costly and quite frankly, exhausting. In fact, a study by the SHRM foundation states finding a direct replacement for an employee can cost the company anywhere from 50% to 60% of the person’s annual salary. So let’s say you are looking to replace an executive earning $80,000. Finding a replacement could cost your company anywhere from $40,000 to $48,000, not to mention the loss of productivity in the meantime.
So how can we beat these odds and ensure our employees stick around for the long haul?

Employee retention begins before the very first interview.

The best way to keep employees satisfied is to fully understand what they’re looking for. Gone are the days when a high salary and great compensation package was enough to entice an interviewee. Millennials long for purpose and direction in their career. Don’t misunderstand, while some are seeking a C-level title, the majority aren’t necessarily looking for a lofty position. The overall goal of a millennial is to learn, grow and be developed in their position.

Start by putting a plan in place for their career path. Think about where you’d like to see them take their role in the next three, five, or even ten years. Having this plan in place shows you’re investing in them as an individual and their career with the company. Maybe you don’t know exactly what type of position they’ll hold in five years, but you can show them the things they will learn. Discuss educational seminars they will attend or new skills they will develop while on the job. This is guaranteed to go further than a corner office would.

Recruitment and retention strategies are two sides of the same coin.

While setting them up for success is important, also keep in mind not everyone is going to be a great fit. In addition to thinking about what millennials want, also think about your company needs and the overall culture. The best way to ensure an employee sticks around is to determine if they are a great fit in the first place. I’ve seen this in my own experience when a job wasn’t exactly how it was laid out to me, I eventually got burnt out and left unhappy and confused.

You can prevent your employees from experiencing this new hire whiplash by making transparency an essential element of your interview process. When I left to seek a new position, PerkSpot stood out to me in one of the most obvious ways: the job description. Instead of the usual bullet points outlining the position in obscure terms, the description was familiar and informal. It painted an excellent picture of what my days in the office would look like. The transparency from the words on the screen to the face-to-face interviews ensured that from day one, nothing was ever a surprise. Within the first few days I knew the job was exactly what I had wanted and expected from the interview process.

Retention, by definition, is a continuous practice.

Beyond a new hire’s first week, remember that on-boarding is not an event that happens on the first day. When thinking about what millennials want, remember two of the most highly sought after aspects of a career for them are mentorship and development. You should already have your plan in place for where you want your new hire to take their career. Now, you just have to enable them to get there.

Keeping employees engaged isn’t a “set it and forget it” strategy. They need to know the specific goals you’ve set in place and receive feedback on their performance. Find a mentor who can meet with them in a comfortable, open environment. This is not only to provide necessary feedback, but also help them develop the skills they need to reach their goals. Millennials are eager to learn, but they can’t do it alone.

As employees long for job stability and your company profits from a secure workforce, don’t let employee retention become an afterthought. Think strategically about how to keep employees engaged. Remember that retention is an ongoing process that starts before, during and after the recruitment stages. Think of what you could do with that extra $48,000 when you don’t have to spend it on recruitment.

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Imagine stepping off the plane into a foreign country. The sights and sounds are unfamiliar: words written in a language you can’t decipher, people pushing past you spouting off strange colloquialism, and you may even find yourself surrounded by sideways glances and awkward stares.

Well, for many new employees, they carry these exact sentiments around with them their first week at work. As you seek to onboard new employees, keep in mind that they are outsiders fighting their way into this seemingly unknown territory.

Here are a few ways to make the transition a little easier for your new hires:

Make an Announcement

Don’t leave it all up to your new employee to make friends. Make an announcement on their first day. Maybe link to their LinkedIn profile and explain who they are, the position they are filling, and a little background information. It will provide a great jumping off point and give your current employees a reason to stop by and say hello.

Be Careful of Office Jargon

Listen, here at PerkSpot, we are just as guilty as the next guy at throwing around office slang. From perxicons to perkalerts, half of what we say needs to be filtered through some sort of strange decoder. But, when it comes to new hires, be sensitive to the fact that they are wrapping their head around a new product, business and environment. There is a lot to learn and part of that means learning a new language. Make sure to explain unfamiliar terms and steer clear of words that could be described in another way. Oh, and maybe just remove these from your vocabulary altogether.

Have Fun

My first day at PerkSpot was seamless thanks to some friendly coworkers taking me out to lunch. There is a delicate balance between making new employees the center of attention but also ensuring they are welcomed and included. Casual lunches or happy hours are a great way to get to know them in a low pressure environment. Plus, if you’re anything like our friends over at Southwest Airlines, having fun should already be a part of your company culture, so really you’re just inviting them to be a part of it!

Don’t forget, employee engagement starts from day one. Use these tools and more to make sure everyone has an A+ experience.

And if you really want to make them feel at home, check out our perks program. You can thank us later.

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employee engagement myths perkspot culture

These two words are changing everything: “Employee Engagement”

Bombarded with ideas of what employee engagement means, struggle with how to implement this in our businesses. But many of these ideas are not authentic representations of what’s happening in our offices.

We’re debunking the myths employers often believe about Employee Engagement.

Myth: Higher compensation = higher satisfaction.

80% of workers don’t consider money a factor in engagement. While fancy compensation packages work for some, the majority of employees simply aren’t motivated by money.

Truth: Opportunity for growth is essential to employee engagement.

What does work, however, is when employees have a place to grow and learn. Many employees are disengaged because they lack challenging assignments or don’t see how their position plays into the overall mission and vision of the company. By providing a path to success, employers can motivate their employees through a sense of purpose when they walk through the door every day.

Myth: Employees love trendy workplace policies and perks.

We see perks like work from home policies popping up left and right, but is this really what employees want? Often these employees become victims of “out of sight, out of mind” by the very policy meant to incentivize them.

Truth: Employees want to be heard.

While offering remote working perks is great for some, the root of the issue is that employees want to be heard. With increasing diversity, it’s key that employers take the time to listen and understand the challenges of their workforce, and ensure that everyone feels like part of the team.

Myth: Every manager knows what it takes to engage employees.

The Association for Talent Development states that a “New survey finds that most managers enter the role without formal training.” It’s obvious that employee engagement, like other management skills, involves proper training and development which is simply not a focus in many of our business practices.

Truth: Every manager needs to learn how to engage employees.

There are so many things we think about employee engagement that simply aren’t true. As part of your onboarding practice, managers should learn the keys to employee engagement, starting with knowing the difference between employee engagement and employee happiness. New manager? Start here.

Myth: Non-cash rewards don’t work as well as cash.

Think a $50 bill is better than a pat on the back? Yes, there is a time and a place for putting your money where your mouth is; but, research shows that more and more employees are seeking recognition and rewards above monetary compensation.

Truth: Recognition and rewards improves business results.

Bersin & Associates, through extensive research, proved that employers who implement employee recognition practices produce 12 times more business results than their counterpart. This evidence is huge in not only showing the importance of recognition on employee engagement, but also its impact on the overall success of our business.

Don’t let what you think about employee engagement trump the realities of what your employees want.

working remotely perkspot culture

A trend emerging in our 21st century workplace: the ability to “WFH”, or Work from Home. There’s nothing better than rolling out of bed, plopping yourself on the couch with your laptop, and getting to work.

Or so…. That’s what we used to think until we heard from employees who actually had the luxury to work remotely. Here’s what we found out.

Remote workers are often lonely.

There is something to be said about going into an office and seeing the same faces everyday. Working from home is often very isolating. There are few people to run your ideas by or even chat about that funny email you just got. In fact, Forbes reports that laughter in the workplace makes employees more productive.

Remote workers have a hard time getting things done.

While not only isolating, contrary to popular belief, it’s also hard to be productive when working remotely. When you collaborate on a project or try to solve an issue quickly, remote work presents new challenges. What is usually solved by turning around in your chair, might take over a day without that luxury. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. For technical writers, developers and the like, working alone is necessary to get into an intense focus mode this type of work often requires.

Remote workers are not necessarily more engaged.

For many businesses, offering flex time is a luxury provided in hopes of increasing employee engagement and retaining excellent employees. However, what often happens is that these employees, especially those who are full-time remote workers, fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy. For many, they feel forgotten by their employer who previously may have been a great mentor and resource to them. They miss out on these resources by simply not physically being around.

While there are clear benefits to offering flex time for employees, it’s also evident there are new challenges arising with this popular perk.

Does your business offer a work from home policy? What challenges or benefits have you seen with this implementation?

perks and benefits perkspot culture

We love perks so much we named our company after them.

But what are perks and how are they different than benefits when it comes to the workplace?

Benefits

Benefits are supplemental to salary and cover basic needs like health insurance, 401K plans, etc. While benefits are absolutely essential for companies, they also come at a price. Most benefits offered to employees cost the company something, unlike our favorite counterpart, the perk, which costs little to nothing for employers to implement.

Perks

Perks encompass everything from bike racks and lounge areas in the office to catered lunches and oh yeah, exclusive discounts on your favorite brands. While benefits are often costly, perks can be offered at a relatively low cost to employers but offer extreme value to employees. Offering perks alongside necessary benefits and compensation packages creates a powerful force when it comes to ensuring employees stay engaged and motivated in their offices. However, like all things, just making these perks available in and of itself is not enough to sustain and retain employees. As more and more businesses begin offering these incentive programs, competition increases when it comes to recruitment and retention. While nearly unheard of 20 years ago, workplace perks are more and more becoming the norm. Companies like Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, and other PerkSpot clients realize this, and that’s why offering perks are non-negotiable.

All Perks are Not Created Equal

So now the question is no longer, will we offer a perks program, but which program will we choose? Overwhelmingly, employees today request perks that improve their everyday lives, such as free gym memberships or discounts on everyday expenses such as groceries and cell phone plans. These programs are more likely to resonate with employees because they show that the employer is listening. It reaches the heart of what all employees truly desire: to be heard and understood. PerkSpot’s mission is to make that a little easier for employers. We negotiate the discounts so you don’t have to. We provide the tools to communicate with employees on how to use the platform, where to find the discounts, and even deliver the latest and greatest perks right to their inbox.

Want to learn more? Reach out to us at sales@perkspot.com

Don’t just offer perks. Offer the right ones.

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illusion of busyness perkspot culture

“I’m so swamped”
“Just trying to keep my head above water”

You may have uttered one of these phrases at some point this month, week or even just a few hours ago. But is it busyness that has us feeling overwhelmed or, like a mirage in the desert, is it merely an illusion?

Technology has advanced at such a rapid pace I wonder if we are really as busy as think or if we simply have an unhealthy relationship with time. In fact, I think deep down some of us like saying these phrases as if they somehow make us feel important or purposeful. Multi-tasking is no longer a skill that only the most successful possess, but something that inundates the ins and outs of our everyday lives. But while we may get things done when we multitask, we often neglect to do things well.  We find ourselves running around from one task to another all for the sake of feeling “busy”, but never really accomplishing anything. Priorities are out of line and our work begins to suffer.

So how do we dispel the illusion of busyness in our lives? Is it even possible?

First of all, breathe. I think many of us grab our coffee and sit in front of our inbox dreading the day to come. When we let the weight of our tasks overwhelm us, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. Take a breath in the morning and spend time planning out your day. Prioritize tasks based on their importance and deadline. With a clear vision in front of us, the work will seem less monumental and more manageable.

Secondly, do something that you’re passionate about. We spend a lot of time just going through the motions of our days without focusing on the things that truly make us happy. If you’re truly passionate about your work (and I hope that you are!), spend time developing a new skill, read an educational book, or attend a seminar. These activities will renew your passion and keep you moving forward. If your passion lies outside your nine-to-five, jump into a cooking class, take photography lessons, or just spend time with your friends and family. Prioritizing our passions can refresh us and more importantly, give us purpose beyond our full agenda.

Remove the word “busy” from your vocabulary and start prioritizing. At the end of the day, you may not respond to every email in your inbox, but that doesn’t mean you weren’t productive.

technology office work perks perkspot culture

When we think of company culture, words like “employee engagement”, “recognition” and “opportunity for growth” come to mind. But where does Technology rank when it comes to our values as an organization or company, and how is this affecting our employees?

As the CHRO of cloud-based finance and HR software Workday, Ashley Goldsmith, eloquently states, “We’ve found that you can’t create a culture just through values, new processes, or an organizational restructure. Those things are necessary, but we like to think of values as the beating heart of culture, processes and organizational structure as the brain, and technology as the nervous system that makes sure heart and head are working together to move us forward.”

Technology improves communication flow.

Cloud-based systems, video-conferencing software, and the like are paving the way for smoother communication in the workplace. The bonus is that many of these applications have free versions available. These tools enable employees to work smarter, not harder.

Technology fosters feedback.

Similar to improving communication, we use technology at PerkSpot to develop more ways to generate feedback, both internally and externally. We use platforms that allow our employees to respond to customer service issues quickly and efficiently. Meanwhile, internally, we use a system to monitor everything from typos on our site to larger kinks that need attention. In this way, we spend less time dealing with issues and more time finding solutions.

Technology encourages collaboration.

Messaging applications are great for encouraging collaboration amongst employees. While many feel that this constant communication decreases productivity, studies show that even when coworkers drift away from the task at hand, laughter shared helps promote creativity and innovation.

In the same way that the body cannot function properly without the nervous system, our offices cannot survive without technology.

What are some ways you use technology in your workplace? Leave us a note in the comments!