Millennials and Gen Z workers have become the majority in many companies and professions, outnumbering Generation X’s smaller cohort and the fast-retiring Baby Boomer workforce. Employees from previous generations primarily desired good pay and job stability, but younger workers also want more growth-oriented workplaces, development opportunities, and better integration between work and life. These shifts in the workplace require a comparable shift in how workplaces approach their employees.
It’s well-documented that employee happiness directly affects customer retention. Besides the fact that customers don’t want to do business with employees who seem unhappy, a shifting employee roster also gives customers the impression that a company isn’t stable or running well. Once you see the value of attending to the experience of your employees as well as your customers, you can approach the issue from several directions.
Understand Work-Life Balance vs. Integration
It’s important to know the difference between the concepts of ‘work-life balance’ and ‘work-life integration.’ Work-life balance is characterized by having enough time to attend to your personal life outside of work. Someone with a healthy work-life balance may work an 8-hour day, and then leave at a reasonable hour to switch their focus to family, studies, home, fun, or other non-work concerns. Significant blocks of time are devoted to work and life; the balance comes in devoting an adequate number of hours to each one.
Work-life integration is what it sounds like: personal time and work time are still balanced but with blurrier lines of separation. Blocks of time are no longer quite so uninterrupted, as duties for work and personal life become interspersed as needed. Work may become just one of the many things an employee takes care of in a day. Flexible work schedules and cloud-based platforms let workers handle personal matters at different points during the day, working as early or as late as they need.
Offer Remote Working Options
A related option for boosting company culture is to allow remote work. Although enhancing a team’s cohesion by having them work offsite might sound counterintuitive, the benefits of working remotely are numerous.
Besides a reduction in environmental impact and money and time savings for the company, gains for workers include greater productivity and improved health. Plus, remote work helps employees’ schedules become more flexible and their paychecks stretch further (with fewer trips to the dry cleaner and gas station), which often correlates to jumps in staff morale.
Provide Educational Boosts
Millennial and Gen Z employees work with an eye toward advancement and development. They crave access to professional education and personal growth in their workplaces; in fact, sometimes these opportunities appear among their top-three necessities in a benefits package. It’s worthwhile to accommodate these needs, as savvy, capable, and healthy employees can only help your company’s bottom line.
Many workplaces offer access to tools that can improve employees’ financial situations. Services offering investment platforms or advice, the means to track and build a credit score, and automatic savings apps are all popular. Workers also appreciate wellness perks such as regular health fairs, discounted wellness appointments, and on-site or nearby fitness facilities. Classes that enhance overall skills and capabilities are also increasingly popular, such as training to learn CPR or first aid.
Professional development is the biggie, though. These opportunities can take many forms, from lunchtime classes to weeklong seminars to one-on-one mentoring sessions that cover professional topics like new software, IT, or coding platforms; public-speaking and presentation skills; managerial and team-development proficiencies; legal compliance; problem-solving and time management; diversity matters and cultural fluency; mediation or crisis management; and innumerable others.
Treat Swag Seriously
Do you know how much workplace engagement can be enhanced by the skillful use of company swag? Useful promotional items branded with your company logo can instill in your employees a sense of identity, unity, and company pride. They can welcome new team members or signal to existing employees that they are actively valued. And they can announce and reinforce your business’ mission and values in the eyes of the outside world.
Notice that we said “useful” items. Don’t insult your employees and potential business partners with cheap trinkets that will just clutter up their space. Move beyond the standard logoed sunglasses, keychains, or mousepads. Instead, brainstorm on items that employees could actually use, like BPA-free water bottles, portable coolers, or device chargers.
When you invest thought and energy into making your employees’ experience more positive and flexible, you’ll find they don’t want to leave. Fostering work-life integration and employee engagement takes practice, but if you take employee concerns seriously, you can create a positive, multi-generational workspace that reduces employee turnover and boosts productivity and morale.
Content written by guest author: Molly Barnes from Digital Nomad Life.
CMOE guest authors are carefully selected industry experts, researchers, writers and editors with extensive experience and a deep passion for leadership development, human capital performance, and other specialty areas. Each guest author is uniquely selected for the topic or skills areas they are focused on. All posts are peer-reviewed by CMOE.