It takes more than a paycheck to keep employees happy. In recent years, we’ve seen industries from tech to finance to higher-ed leveraging lavish work perks in an effort to one-up the competition and win the “talent wars.”
But what does it really take to keep employees present, productive and engaged in 2016? At the end of the day, it comes down to addressing employee needs – whether that means career development opportunities or a little assistance reducing the friction in your life outside work.
With that in mind, here’s a look at a few rising workplace trends that business leaders need to stay on top of if they want to keep their talent happy.
1. Millennials Rising
or years now, the narrative around millennials has focused largely on how to deal with these lazy, praise-hungry kids job-hopping in their hoodies. Well, the kids are growing up and the way organizations approach this vital population has to grow along with them. The oldest Millennials are 30-plus. That means a sizeable percentage our largest workforce demographic is advancing in their careers, earning leadership positions … and starting families. Millennials are no longer the “next generation;” they’re emerging leaders and shaping the workplace more and more each day. Organizations that get stuck in the mindset of praise-hungry millennials are going to struggle to recruit, retain and engage emerging young talent.
2. Culture, of Course
It feels cliché, but employees putting a premium on company culture is a trend with no end in sight. And you shouldn’t measure culture by the availability of fresh fruit, free coffee and beer fridges. Those things are the window dressings and employees today understand that work perks do not a culture make. You need to be equally invested in your values that motivate employees and cultivate your true company culture. Standing desks and game rooms might get a candidate in the door, but what makes them stay are things like entrepreneurialism, autonomy, transparency and meaningful work. When employees feel connected to your mission, values and culture, they’ll go the extra mile to help you team win.
3. Leading on Leave Has Never Been More Important
It’s no secret that maternity and paternity leave programs have been among the hottest employee benefits over the past few years. We’ve seen company after company announce new or expanded programs, and we can certainly expect this trend to continue in 2016. But paid parental leave, as important as it is, is only the tip of the iceberg. This year we’re going to see progressive employers – who we like to call Companies That Care – really take the next step to lead the way with programs and services that bookend parental leave. We’ll see more things like transition programs, flexible work arrangements, and employer-provided benefits that help find and manage child care, including full-time and last-minute care needs.
4. Same with Paying Attention to the “Silver Tsunami”
When it comes to supporting working families, parents, parental leave and even child care get most of the attention. But what we’re starting to see is that enterprises are taking notice of another, equally impactful demographic shift. As more people live longer than ever before, we’ll be faced with an exploding population of working caregivers that we’ve never had to deal with before. Already, nearly half of adults ages 40 to 50 fall into what we call the “Sandwich Generation,” meaning they’re providing some level of care for both their children and aging parents. The population of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to hit 55 million by 2020, so we can expect senior care issues to become increasingly common. To meet this rising demand, we’re seeing employers take steps like facilitating support groups for working caregivers, bringing in experts on topics like Alzheimer’s or long-distance care and even connecting employees with adult and senior care providers.
5. HR Gets Social, Mobile
The way we work, like the way we live, has evolved tremendously over the past several decades. Technological advances have pushed us forward into an era of globalization, remote workforces and work-life integration. Organizations and their employees are no longer confined to an office-based, 9-to-5 workday, yet by and large employer-provided benefits and HR functions have been slower to evolve. 2016 is a year I think we’re going to see that gap really start to close as HR functions get more social and mobile. Products like Workday and Care@Work are making it easier than ever for a flexible workforce to engage with their employee benefits. Tools like Skype, Slack and Yammer are helping teams and managers maintain open lines of communication regardless of location. HR leaders expect flexible work arrangements to become even more common over the next five years, so the time is now for HR and employee benefits to adapt to the realities of our 21st century workforce.