Changing the Conversation from Improving Employee Perks vs. Crushing the Employee Experience

Gone are the days when Employees were satisfied with the status quo. Thanks to millennials pushing boundaries, benefits, and expectations, if you want the competitive edge in today’s 21st century multi-generational workforce, your company must adapt to some, if not all, of the strategic thoughts below. Right now, courts all over the United States are executing rulings and decisions daily which will affect your organization swiftly and immediately. Remember, too, the conversation is shifting — whether you want it to or not. It’s not about employee benefits and perks anymore, it’s about enhancing the overall employee experience.

Here ’s what you need to know NOW (and that means, everyone = HR, Executives, Leaders, etc...):

- Top-down mentality shift. There must not only be Executive Buy-In to enhance (aka crush) the Employee Experience, but there has to be top-down mind, attitude, and behavioral changes.

- It’s not just the HR Team’s responsibility. It takes a village to raise a company. Therefore, each individual, manager, director, leader, and executive must be involved. They all must do their part. The strategic initiatives to enhance the employee experience must be company-wide, genuine, and transparent. To all employees, express and explore what can be done and then offer those suggestions to the HR Department. They will be glad you did.

- Importance in the World. There have been all sorts of studies that educate us to know that if we feel like we are contributing to the greater good, then we will do better, work harder, and execute with more passion and fervor.

- Meeting People Where they are at! In order to make any shift, the Company must take a “psychological inventory” of what the workforce feels on the daily. Then, slowly start shifting the cultural mindset through communication, followed by immediate serious, consistent, and noticeable actions.

- ROI. We must be willing to spend some money. You’d be surprised how much you can do for little or next to nothing, but to make your entire workforce more passionate, productive, and engaged, you will need to spend some “dinero.”

- Taking Risks. Last but not lost, it’s about taking risks. Not every “brilliant” idea will have a positive outcome. it’s about trial and error with everyone working toward the same goals and objectives.

Here are the Musts:

- 100% Paid Insurance Premiums. If you can do it, do it! This is an absolute must to be competitive. For families, of course, paying 85% or more of their contributions is extremely competitive.

- Matching 401K. Enough said. Even if it’s an up to 3% matching. This is such a necessary perk today.

- Parental Leave. It is now law in San Francisco that companies must give 6 weeks fully-paid for a paid parental leave (certain regulations apply). The up and coming trend (in the United States, as we are very far behind) is giving 6-8 weeks paid leave for Primary Caregivers and about half that for Secondary Caregivers, adoptions, etc… Start building this into your strategic and financial plans. It will soon be required by law.

- Quiet rooms aka Lactation Spaces. These spaces are now being required in cities, states, and counties across the United States.

- Work Smarter, not Harder. We are living in the digital age. Virtual offices are now, and will continue to be, required as an option for fresher and more productive work deadlines/deliverables. 9/80 work weeks, half-day Fridays, or Summer Fridays are a necessary in today’s crazy forward-facing organizations. Gone are the days when 9-5 meant sitting in your seat for eight hours each day.

- Frequent Feedback. The millennials are pushing companies to do better and be better. Therefore, consistent Performance appraisals or check-ins are now being requested for all companies. Find which system will work best for your organization.

- Recognition & Acknowledgment. Team Awards, Manager Awards, and People Awards are a great way to recognize your talent publicly and frequently. You can make these fun and friendly competitions. At the end of the day, it’s not just the millennials who would like recognition, validation, and gratitude.

- Additional Compensation. In order to compete with the start-up/tech industry, companies must be willing to offer additional compensation. Whether that means Bonuses, Special Payouts, and/or Awards, find innovative ways to perhaps acknowledge and give $$$. It’s always appreciated at any age.

- Catered Food. If this isn’t an option, look into perhaps one day of week for breakfast or one day of week for lunch for all employees. You will be surprised by how much bagels/cream cheese can add to the spirit of a company as well.

- Philanthropy. Nowadays, it’s customary to have 1-2 days per year where the entire workforce will help out a non-profit organization (or similar). Additionally, some companies give from 1-5 days, paid, to venture/travel to some place to help out with disaster relief or volunteer with domestic or international do-good enterprises.

- People Committees. Have you thought about adding the following? A FUN Committee? A Social Responsibility Committee? A Green/Environmental Committee? These can be duo-lead groups/task forces that meet once/month or bi-weekly to discuss in conjunction with an HR representative. These committees can even be regional or national given your talent population.

- Coaching and Creating Leaders. Shift your Managers into Leaders through coaching, mentoring, and experiential development. Show the employees that you care about their personal and career development. Actions always speak louder than words.

- Ergonomic Awareness. Sitting and Standing desks, sitting balls, gel pads, and ergo-chairs are now commonplace in all start-ups and tech companies. The investment to avoid future workers’ comp issues.

- Stress Leave - Relievers. We all are hearing the whispers that stress leaves are on the rise in astonishing metrics everywhere. Exploring ways to mitigate stress across all departments is a must nowadays. Again, it must be taken seriously and employees of all levels must passionately embrace these new ideologies.

Here are the Desirables:

- How is your Talent Acquisition / On-Boarding process? If your R.S.O.B. (Recruitment, Selection, and On-Boarding) process is not stellar, top notch, pristine, meticulous, or on-point, then you (like all of us) have some challenging work ahead. This is your first, second, and third impression of the enterprise. Make it the best experience ever.

- Health & Wellness. If your company does not offer some type of wellness program, then, at the very least, companies today should partner with local/national fitness companies, i.e. 24-hr Fitness, LA Fitness, Equinox, etc… Medical insurance companies are now commonly awarding $$$ specifically to improve the wellness budget for each company. Turn that $$$ into nationwide or regional fitness competitions i.e. weightloss, walking, etc... or more. Be creative.

- Focus Groups. They might take a moment to organize, but these are extremely underrated. Listen to your employees. You will always find common threads and themes to address. Share the outcomes/to-dos with everyone from top down. Then, take action.

- The House Cup. If you are familiar with Harry Potter, you will understand this straight away. This is a company-wide competition, of sorts. There are various teams/groups of 15-45 individuals who take on various competition tasks (i.e. reinventing the LA office or making philanthropy art) for the good of the company. Upon completion of these competitive tasks, the results from same and other team-building events are tallied. At the end of the year, there can be creative gifts, VIP awards, and trophies given to various individuals or the winning team. It might sound like a great deal of work, but the key is to set up a House Cup task force that works in conjunction with the HR team.

- One Pager. Every company should have a digital one-pager they can send to prospective employees with all of their employee perks, so that it’s clear from the very beginning what the company has to offer to employees (and their families).

In Conclusion:

In the end, hopefully you and your executives will understand that whether you are talking about attraction or retention, it’s no longer about Employee Perks/Benefits, it’s all about one thing — improving the overall employee experience for enhancing engagement. It’s about what’s working, working and sharing together in creation with the employees, and what’s next for the future success of the employees, the executives, and the shareholders. It’s about taking action each day to strive for excellence in order to crush the employee experience.

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.
CONVERSATIONS