Our Millennial Misunderstanding webinar is now available on-demand

You can now listen to last week’s webinar on The Millennial Misunderstanding, featuring data presentation from Oxford Economics’ technology practice lead Ed Cone as well as real-world insights from Deloitte’s Deborah Cole and SAP’s David Swanson. During the presentation, panelists discussed some of the common misconceptions about Millennials in the workplace and what companies can do to better meet the needs of their younger workers.

Want to participate in one of our live webinars and have a chance to ask questions in real time? Be sure to register for our next one on What Matters Most at Work. We’ll be talking about the benefits and incentives that are most important to employees–and what most companies actually offer.

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Do high performers have different wants and needs?

With our survey data, we broke out data for high performers—employees who were ranked highly in their last performance review—from average and low performers. Karie Willyerd, the co-author of The 2020 Workplace:How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today and a valuable partner in this research project, recently published an article on what these high performers want at work.

How prepared are companies to meet the needs of their best workers? How satisfied are these employees today? According to Karie:

As you would expect, high performers as compared to low performers are more satisfied with their jobs and less likely to leave their jobs in the next six months. But in looking deeply into high performers specifically, you’ll see that the numbers aren’t as comforting as we’d hoped…one in five high performers are likely to leave in the next six months (versus one in four of employees overall who are likely to leave in the near term), and less than half are satisfied with their jobs.

You can read the full article at HBR—read it and join the discussion here.

The learning imperative

Companies are having a hard time finding skilled employees. In fact, nearly half of the firms we surveyed have trouble recruiting employees with even base-level skills. These challenges in the talent marketplace suggest that companies should focus more on identifying and developing talent from within—yet most of them are not doing so.

Fewer than one-quarter of executives say their companies widely offer education as a benefit to keep employees loyal and engaged, and less than half say their companies have a culture of continuous learning. What’s more, employees may not be motivated to develop skills on their own time, as most companies are not sending the message that there is room for advancement: only 31% of executives say when a person with key skills leaves, they fill the role from within the company.

As globalization makes the task of managing a workforce increasingly complex, businesses need to create broad, sustainable learning cultures. This may start with incentives for pursuing education, continuous training opportunities, or stronger mentoring programs (but beware tedious, impersonal, and mandatory development programs). Providing employees with a clear career path and allowing them to develop key skills will increase loyalty among employees and build a stronger workforce that can take the company forward.

Using vacation days is good for everyone

Over the past few months, we have talked a lot about what benefits and incentives matter most to employees. Perhaps unsurprisingly, employees are focused on competitive compensation and other cash-based rewards. But what about the benefits that employees need, but don’t rank as highly?

While vacation days are ranked lower on the list of benefits most important to employee satisfaction, we hear in the news over and over how important it is for employees to recharge out of the office—and how difficult it is to actually take that time. In fact, a recent Oxford Economics study finds that American workers lose 169 million days of paid time off each year. Yet our analysis reveals no clear payoff for employees for sacrificing their time off, as workers who do so are not more likely to get pay raises.

Using paid vacation days is good for everyone. Not only is it beneficial to employees’ health and productivity, it also allow the company to learn to function in their absence, says Megan McArdle in this article from Bloomberg. This raises some questions for management: How can companies ensure that employees are getting away from the office? What can employers do to create a culture that encourages taking well-earned time off?

Workforce 2020 news roundup

Our Workforce 2020 surveys show that companies are not offering the benefits that are most important to employees—particularly compensation and other financial incentives, which are ranked highest among employees across the globe. Management may argue that companies cannot afford to pay more, but in at least some cases there is evidence that higher pay brings substantial benefits to employers as well as workers.

Why The Container Store Pays Its Retail Employees $50,000 A Year (Business Insider): The Container Store pays its employees nearly twice the national average. CEO Kip Tindell says that, for just two times the cost, he ends up with employees who are three times as productive.

Meanwhile, as executives focus on retaining top talent, companies offering unique benefits are grabbing headlines. And while these incentives may be good for employees, there’s usually something in it for the company, too.

Freezing Eggs as Part of Employee Benefits: Some Women See Darker Message (The New York Times): Some tech companies are now paying for female employees to freeze their eggs—and while some consider this a huge step forward for women struggling to balance childcare with career-building, others think the companies are avoiding putting policies in place for paid family leave, child care, and flexible work.

A Benefits Balancing Act (CFO): A recent study from CFO Research found that three-quarters of finance executives say it is important for companies to offer the right mix of benefits, and many are expanding the range of voluntary benefits they offer. Executive are hoping that more attention to offering the benefits that matter most to employees will help in long-term retention.

The gender pay gap

Over the past few months, we have been talking about the national and company approaches to parental leave policies—in particular, how these policies affect women’s wages and participation in the workforce.

In an article from The New York Times, Claire Cain Miller explores new research on the gender divide for parents in the workforce. She cites University of Massachusetts sociology professor Michelle Budig, whose research finds that high-earing men receive large pay bumps after having children (likely because employers consider them less likely to leave a stable job), while low-earning women are most likely to suffer. In fact, Budig’s research, based on data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, finds that “on average, men’s earnings increased more than 6 percent when they had children (if they lived with them), while women’s decreased 4 percent for each child they had.”

Most companies have not yet figured out how to develop the right policies for employees with children—the same is true for determining paid maternity and paternity leave. Combating the gender pay gap will require not just an overhaul of policies, but a change in mindset.