07.20.18

Got great “perks?” So what?

KARL R. LAPAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE NIIC

Our society is engaged in a talent war. Talent attraction and retention is on the top of the list for established and entrepreneurial companies. (And with good reason, as it’s costly to recruit, hire, train, develop, grow and retain talent.) Also, remember, knowledge intensive companies flock to where the talent is located so developing talent is insufficient as a sustainable strategy.

While companies mostly understand and often appreciate the value of their human capital, the contemporary approach seems to, at times, miss the mark. At least that’s what employees are saying, loud and clear.

Sleek, open office spaces, on-site gyms, beer kegs, snacks, bean bag chairs, etc. These are all atmospherics and do little to build a culture of increased productivity and healthy human interactions. After all, if you don’t walk the walk, employees will get burnt out and leave anyway. Beer might sweeten the deal (or be considered cool like in the movies depicting startups), but it’s not what credible companies will need to do to win the war on talent. Researchers at Harvard concluded open office spaces might be cheaper per square foot but don’t necessarily lead to more human interaction, collaboration and increased productivity.

Consider the findings of a LinkedIn survey of 3,000 + full-time U.S. workers. Bottom line: Most do not know about your nontraditional “perks.” So, then where should you focus your efforts? Conventional wisdom would say to listen to employees’ feedback and take note. In the case of these respondents, it’s the same benefits people sought 30 years ago. (Think vacation time, health insurance, etc.) Positive workplace culture contributes to increased engagement and satisfaction so influencing and intentionally designing culture around a supportive “sense of community” where you can trust the people around you and also have a sense of psychological safety in your environment.

“One of the top factors most likely to keep professionals at their company for 5+ years,” LinkedIn researchers shared with Fast Company,“is having strong workplace benefits such as PTO, parental leave, and health insurance (44%). In comparison, the least enticing factor for keeping professionals at their current companies is having in-office perks such as food, game rooms, and gyms (19%).”

One “deal breaker” cited by workers in the survey is lower pay. Wage stagnation is a big deal not only in Northeast Indiana but across the country. Today’s younger employees are more socially minded and aware than ever before. They are concerned with pay and gender gap, workplace flexibility, mentorship and enhancing their skills and talents. These concerns are on the radar of some forward-thinking companies, and as a result, they are offering perks like extended paid maternity leave for new moms—and even fathers!

So how might this insight change your internal conversations around talent attraction and retention?

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