With four – and soon to be five – generations in the workplace, it stands to reason that a one-size-fits-all approach to engagement is not going to cut it.
To cite just one research example,* organisations with effective employee benefit plans had a 12% employee turnover rate, compared to the general market at 15%.
Both voluntary and involuntary turnover was lower in these organisations. There were also generally more hours being worked, particularly by senior management: 43% typically worked more than 50 hours a week, compared to 25% across the market as a whole.
The report suggested that a major challenge for employers today is related to the demographic reality of having four generations in the workplace. It noted: “Today’s workforce holds the attitudes, values, and goals of four generations, which presents a massive challenge for employers to engage and retain workers to achieve business success. Offering stock standard competitive employee benefits will become a thing of the past and we are seeing this happen already.”
One thing is clear: benefits tailored to your organisation’s demographics can only bolster engagement and productivity. This is something that Reward Gateway’s Kylie Green is passionate about. She notes that while traditionally there has been an expectation that ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to engagement, savvy employers today recognise that a tailored approach is far more effective.
“Obviously employees come from different age groups,” says Green. “They are based in different locations and they work in different divisions and different industries. They all have very different requirements. Until now it’s been quite difficult to segment an organisation’s communication efforts and also what they offer in terms of benefits and rewards. Today we can do that.”
Technology is the key. Reward Gateway’s SmartHub® platform provides employers with a bespoke engagement model, covering benefits, rewards, communication and engagement.
“Many HR managers currently have platforms and tools for these four areas sitting in multiple places. They likely have limited visibility,” says Green. “SmartHub® offers one single platform for all of your employee benefits, rewards and HR information.”
Taking ‘communication’ as a starting point, there are countless examples of where tailored messaging can be utilised. Green cites McDonald’s. To engage its predominantly young workforce, Reward Gateway ensures social media is used extensively.
In contrast, PepsiCo has a slightly older workforce – including offsite workers – so live presentations have been proven to be successful in engaging workers. Having a choice is the key.
“SmartHub® can segment the messages depending on the demographic,” says Green. “For example, the Sales team might log in and see messaging around where they are tracking with their quarterly targets; however, new starters might log in and see a welcome video from the CEO.”
SmartHub®, which was designed ‘mobile first’ – in other words it was designed with mobile usage as a top priority rather than an afterthought – allows employees to log in on the go, including during their work commute.
While this might seem odd – who would want to check the company newsletter or intranet on their way to or from work? – Reward Gateway’s research indicates that if there’s a ‘what’s in it for me’ factor, people will log in.
The ‘what’s in it for me’, in this instance, is the ability to use the Reward Gateway benefits suite to pick up groceries or fuel discounts on the way home. While they’re online, smart employers will provide updates about the business.
“It allows HR or business messages to be pushed out while employees are picking up benefits for their own use,” Green says. “Many clients use it to show the latest company videos, or they might have live Twitter feeds. Importantly, they can keep it updated in real time.”
From there, it’s about providing a choice of benefits and rewards. While it can be risky to generalise about generations, Green suggests that younger workers might be more interested in lifestyle benefits; older workers might be more interested in increasing their family’s disposable income by taking advantage of benefits around groceries or petrol.
The power of a thank-you
Regardless of the demographics or the communication channels used, the one element that Green says remains consistent is how gratefully a simple act of thanks for a job well done is received.
Green cites Suncorp as an example. The financial services and insurance giant has implemented a tailored online thank-you card, using SmartHub®, which is directly tied into the company’s values.
Suncorp’s 15,000 employees have sent out 89,000 thank-you cards over the past year – an average of six cards per employee.
“They’ve found their employees have loved that they can recognise their peers for a job well done,” Green says.
Importantly, just like employees can now access benefits and company information on the go, recognition is now also mobile.
“They can be on the bus on the way home and realise the colleague who sat next to them at work has done an amazing job that day to responding to a customer query, and actually send them a thank-you card. That person can receive it on their way home. It’s real-time recognition.”
Like all technology, user experience is key – not just for employees but managers too.
SmartHub® allows managers to use a simple drag and drop function to update fields: videos, pictures, written information.
“You certainly don’t need to be a programmer to use this at all – it uses very intuitive drag and drop functionality,” says Green. “We provide clients with a lot of services to build the perfect hub, but it’s so simple they quickly realise they can actually provide information on the latest changes or updates in their business themselves.”
About the author
Reward Gateway provides employee engagement technology to the world’s leading companies. The products power employee communications, recognition and benefits through a single employer-branded hub called SmartHub®.