There has been a shift of considerable proportion in the workforce, as millennials are eclipsing Baby Boomers and Gen X. Many things are changing in the workplace, including benefits packages and incentives. As every one person out of three currently working is a millennial, their wants – especially relating to the “goodies” beyond standard employee compensation that an employee reaps from a company – must be considered.
Interestingly enough, money isn’t everything to the newest breed to hit the pavement looking for jobs. In fact, there are several other considerations that come into play. The other interesting thing is that there are incentives beyond a standard benefits package that will attract top talent and retain them.
That Was Then
First, look at the “standard benefits package.” It was in the late 1800’s that the first private pension was offered to employees at the American Express railroad company. Other large manufacturing businesses and employers such as utility companies and banks followed suit. Healthcare was first offered via the Baylor University Hospital in 1929. It was actually a way for the hospital to make money, by offering a certain number of “free” hospital visits for a small monthly fee. This pre-paid health program eventually was named Blue Cross. The addition of programs like 401K’s came about in 1970.
The standard package also includes:
- Paid holidays
- Paid vacation days
- Paid sick days
- Paid personal days
- Bereavement or funeral leave
The major benefits that appeal to employees and add to employee compensation considerations are health insurance, paid time off and some form of pension or savings plan for retirement. The nature of benefits packages have been changing, as millennials are looking for something different. Similarly, the nature of incentives has been changing as well.
This Is Now
What are the differences in play for benefits packages? In an article entitled The Work Benefits That Are Making Millennials Happy by Sarah Ludlum, an “Under 30” contributor for Forbes, there are four key points:
- Shopping for healthcare, rather than having only one option from an employer
- Flexible work schedules
- Student loan repayment
- Career and personal development
This, in addition to competitive employee compensation, isn’t really enough to keep employees – both millennials and earlier generations – completely happy. Perks offered by a company contribute a great deal to employee happiness. And a happy employee is a productive employee.
The Road to Happiness
What is an incentive? The Oxford Dictionary declares it is “A thing that motivates or encourages someone to do something” or “a payment or concession to stimulate greater output or investment.” While a human resources pro examines and modifies the benefits packages, s/he can also consider a bevy of incentives which can work for company budgets both small and large. A Michigan company called Austin Benefits Group, which is a broker for benefits packages, compiled a list entitled 101 creative employee benefits ideas for all budgets. There are many options, including:
- A health insurance premium reduction for wellness participation
- New hire welcome packages
- Birthday and/or anniversary parties
- Flex time
- Personal time off for one’s birthday
When a potential employee looks at a company, s/he initially focuses on the job posting. The posting asks “What are you going to do for our company?” At some point, most people then will take a look at the company, by Googling it or reading reviews on job sites like Glassdoor. The potential employee is asking the company “What are you going to do for me?” Companies have been learning that the “same old, same old…” benefits and incentives approach can not only cause potential employees to walk away, but can also discourage current employees from staying with the organization.
Happiness Through Human Resources
The people in the proverbial trenches of outsourcing and managing employee compensation, benefits and incentive programs are human resources personnel. Sometimes that means one individual who’s working alone and sifting through mountains of material. Other times the HR department might number in the hundreds. Regardless of department size, HR can find a wide array of ideas and aids to develop the best programs for the employees.
One option is to work with a company that works directly with human resources and management to build or expand employee engagement (like we do here at Flimp Communications). Another tremendous resource available is the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) and its numerous articles, discussions, conferences, and more. In fact, SHRM recently published an article specifically about incentives to offer employees.
Getting the best and the brightest to work for a company rests in the hands of HR. It’s good to know HR has this covered!