By Claudine Kapel
A key challenge when defining a total rewards approach is to address the preferences and priorities of different age groups.
There’s a lot of conventional wisdom out there about how generational differences influence employment expectations. But to effectively shape a total rewards strategy, it is important to look beyond stereotypes and explore how employees really feel. Because priorities are shaped as much by perceptions of what’s missing in an employment deal as they are by age group.
Consider some concerns highlighted by a recent survey sponsored by Monster.ca that crossed the generational divide.
The survey found that both baby boomers (aged 47 – 62) and millennials (aged 18 – 30) feel employers are coming up short when it comes to providing sufficient opportunities for mentoring. Further, both demographic groups also agree that organizations are not using younger workers to their full potential.
Work-life balance topped the list of what matters most, with 97 per cent of survey participants in both demographic groups rating it as important.
Other top priorities for both groups included:
- Making good money (which tied for top spot among the twenty-somethings);
- Job security;
- Opportunities for advancement; and
- Flexibility in where and when they work.
A cool, fun company culture, however, was more important for younger employees (at 88 per cent) than to boomers (at 77 per cent).
The survey findings also highlighted some noteworthy differences in the perspectives of the two generational groups.
The millennials were twice as likely as boomers to say money motivates them at work. In contrast, boomers were twice as likely to say helping others and enjoyment of their work motivates them.
While survey findings reflecting the views of the general labour market can provide useful insights, the real gold for employers lies in understanding the views and priorities of their own workforce. Identifying both common and divergent employee perspectives can be very beneficial for organizations seeking to strengthen their ability to attract, retain and motivate talent.
In fact, a few cautionary tales emerged from the Monster.ca survey findings that could resonate with a variety of organizations.
For example, one in three boomers responding to the survey indicated organizations are not treating workers nearing retirement age with respect.
Meanwhile, 40 per cent of the millennials reported that they haven’t been able to get a job in their preferred field. Further, more than one in three expect to change jobs five times or more before they retire.
The concerns of both boomers and millennials could herald staffing challenges for organizations that fail to effectively engage and inspire their talent.
To that end, an effective total rewards approach includes understanding the perspectives of different employee groups. What’s important to them? How do priorities and preferences vary by demographic group? What do they have in common? What do they perceive to be opportunities for improvement?
Don’t rely on conventional wisdom for the answers, however, because even the most comprehensive survey on labour force perspectives won’t capture the unique reality of your own organization.
The good news, though, is that getting value-added input isn’t difficult. All you have to do is ask.
Next week we’ll explore some approaches for getting useful employee input on total rewards.
Claudine Kapel is principal of Kapel and Associates Inc., a Toronto-based human resources and communications consulting firm specializing in the design and implementation of compensation and total rewards programs. For more information, visit www.kapelandassociates.com.