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Opinion: Best practices for employers in new talent pool

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Best practices for employers in new talent pool

It’s no secret that our workforce and available talent pool is becoming younger. Very soon, the majority of employees will comprise millennials and Generation Z.

As an employer, and especially in manufacturing, it is critical to be in tune with what your current and potential employees want. A recent study of 3,000 U.S. workers commissioned by Amazon shows us that only paying attention to traditional attractions, such as pay and retirement and medical benefits may not cut it in today’s new pool of talent.

The study found that millennials and Gen Z workers are looking for employers that offer a clear career path (64%), a positive work-life balance (63%) and a good work culture (61%).

This means that to attract and retain the best young talent, employers need to offer more than a competitive salary. Topics such as culture, paid time off, volunteer opportunities, community engagement and mental health are now at the forefront of recruitment and retention conversations. As such, employers should look to offer a complete package that includes “soft” benefits and clear direction for their people.

Generations Y and Z are the most sought after by employers due to their skill sets, work ethic and adaptability. They are also the most transient, as nearly 60% of millennials and 70% of Gen Zers say they would leave their current job for a better offer, according to Amazon’s study by research firm Workplace Intelligence.

What does a better offer consist of? Unsurprisingly, it’s not just compensation. As organizations continue to work on keeping their best talent, those that offer the most quality benefits and perks will continue to be the most attractive to job seekers – and the most likely to retain this demographic. Other critical items are inclusiveness, a sense of purpose and belonging. Employees need to feel wanted and that they play an integral role in the success of the company.

What does this mean for benefits, and how can you keep your benefits package attractive enough to appeal to these generations? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Mobility. Gen Y and Gen Z are both seeking to be mobile and accustomed to moving around. Your benefits must be portable and flexible, fitting their way of life. Also, giving them time off to do things they enjoy outside of work is important. Lifestyle spending accounts have gained prominence and popularity among younger professionals.
  2. Health care. Health and wellness are important to everyone – especially the generations that have just started to transition into the workforce. The key here is to realize one size does not fit all. As we move into the next seven years, we will have to customize health care and benefits to each employee based on their particular needs, not that of the group.
  3. Employer accountability. Don’t say just anything to get the employee on board. In such a tight and transient labor market, employees have the unique ability to hold their employers accountable to promises made during recruitment. Not following through will result in increased turnover and bad reviews. Instead, be very clear from the beginning with new candidates and employees regarding your expectations of them and provide details on what they can expect from you in return. This demographic wants a specific and detailed plan that if adhered to will get them promised rewards, be it a promotion, more pay, etc.
  4. Inclusiveness and a sense of belonging. This generation strives to do great things. They want to have a seat at the table. Find ways to include them early on – in committees, projects, client meetings and other areas where they can contribute and learn. This can be in mentorships, cross-functional relationships and how leadership is determined.
  5. Diversity, equity and inclusion. We have seen with nearly every measurable statistic that a diverse workforce can lead to more creative and overall better solutions. An intentional focus on DEI initiatives within an organization will become paramount to continued success in recruiting and retaining talent. Today’s employees seek opportunities to capitalize on their unique backgrounds and experiences and will seek out company cultures that foster a collaborative and safe environment for all.

It’s important for leaders and human resources departments to act now, planning a purpose and mission that starts with culture, belonging and life balance. And perhaps changing the traditional benefits we’re accustomed to.

Hunter Johnson is vice president of Alliant Insurance Services Inc., specializing in workers’ compensation, alternative risk financing and complex risk placement. Tracy McConnell is senior vice president of consulting with the firm. They can be reached at hunter.johnson@alliant.com and tracy.mcconnell@alliant.com.

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