In the 20th century, there was a clearer delineation between work and life: there was what you did to earn income, and there was everything else.
Today, life is pushing back! The enjoyment of life is beginning to take back its (rightful) place in the lives of employees. Today’s employees put increased focus on happiness at work—they change jobs more often, their careers take unexpected twists and turns, and personal satisfaction can be as important as the numbers on their paycheck
And with the advent of mobile technology — smartphones tablets and laptop - which allows employees to be “on” anytime, anywhere — work is no longer confined to the office. And while this mobility offers great advantages, it also allows work to infiltrate employees’ lives. It’s a challenge for employers, large and small!
Employers are recognizing these changing priorities, by investing in employee engagement, culture, and team development. This employee-first focus is shaping everything from office floor plans to vacation policies and management styles, making the workplace a more dynamic and expressive place. You don’t need to look very hard to see examples of the types of culture building done by Apple, Amazon, Zappos and largely influenced by the venture capital that has allowed companies to perform widespread social experiments in staffing, culture and workplaces.
In addition, today's employees are more diverse than ever, no longer easily defined by generational categories like “Millennial,” “Gen X” or “Boomer.” Instead, employees want to be seen and recognized as the unique, multidimensional, and “whole” people that they are. They want it now and they want it in their hands. They want faster recognition for their efforts, they want direct compensation for their efforts, and they want to be a part of something besides a job and making money. In short, they no longer “want to work 50 weeks” for a “2-week vacation”.
Employees are experiencing the positives and negatives of this blended life—and everyone is looking to achieve work/life “harmony”. In this case, “harmony” is the experience of a work-life relationship that supports and enables life goals of all kinds. When the work-life relationship is “in harmony”, employees are empowered in their family life and relationships, as well as in their financial and career goals.
With this new blended experience, they expect their employers to keep up with current trends and proactively provide solutions for their changing needs. Specifically, employees are seeking a sense of financial and emotional wellbeing. This focus is not always so easy when “running a business”.
Yet, with so much changing, employees are still looking at their workplace for stability, protection, and a safeguard against disruption. If they can find it in their employer, they’ll show their appreciation through loyalty. IF they can’t, they will move onto greener pastures. (And, it seems there are a lot of green pastures these days. Even the “gig” economy suggests employees have preference to “gigs” over stability of income that traditional employment has given them.)
It’s a big burden for employers, especially those in businesses where they have “legacy” challenges and are competing for talent against virtual and well capitalized startups and companies with all sorts of ways to engage employees. As such, today’s employee experience needs to be more complete.
Here are 5 ways to meet employees where they are:
- When employers offer a breadth of employee benefit options, they can help alleviate the anxiety that comes with the integration of work-life and home-life. The definition of “employee benefits” has expanded beyond “health insurance”. Today’s employers have to offer flexibility, custom tailored and diverse offerings.
- When employers deliver digital and tailored solutions, they help an increasingly diverse workforce find the assurance and security it’s looking for. Everything must distill down to the tablet or iPhone, and so companies must embrace HR technology to adapt and disseminate their information. They must communicate 10X better in all ways.
- When employees have access to the right information on their terms, it ensures they can get the info they need to meet their lifestyle objectives. This places additional demands on HR teams, who must engage vendors to deliver timely and clear information regarding benefits, policies, and payroll, compliance and workplace procedures.
- Time and dollars spent on culture and creating great workspaces will be returned exponentially. The “office” is now an extension of the personality, and companies that engage their teams, create synergistic opportunities beyond the softball team, and support employee engagement will thrive in retaining and attracting talent.
- When compensation is tied to performance, employees will best be able to recognize their role in the growth and success of their organization, and enable them to discover the immense value of their workplace and benefits. As a result, their appreciation can enhance their loyalty and commitment to the company.
Companies that embrace this new way of thinking and utilize HR technology to help employee’s bridge the gap between “old school” thinking and new school (digital) employee engagement, will thrive in a challenging and changing business world.