The U.S. unemployment rate is the lowest since April 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — great news for the workforce, but maybe not so much for employers. Job candidates now have more offers to choose from, making the competition for talent even tighter. How do you make yourself stand out?
If your first thought was “salary,” then think again. Dollar signs can certainly attract interest, but good pay won’t make employees happy on its own.
To find the other pieces of the puzzle, we should look to the youngest members of the workforce: millennials, (Gen Y) and the growing cohort of Gen Z. These generations are the future of the workplace: According to Pew Research Center, millennial already surpassed Gen X as the largest group in the U.S. labor force. And more members of Gen Z enter the workplace every day.
Preparing your organization for the next wave
Here’s what these young employees consider must-haves from their employers.
1. Opportunities for Professional Development
Room to grow is one of the top qualities that can make a job appealing. Millennial Branding found that having opportunities for advancement is a top motivator for young workers to stay with their employer and work hard (30% of Gen Y and 34% of Gen Z). Gen Y in particular expects swift career progression — along the lines of every 12 to 24 months, according to Deloitte.
And don’t worry that professional development means giving an employee a brand-new job. It includes letting people take on new projects, pursue training or certification, or work with a mentor. The benefit to you is clear: while employees are building up their skills, you’re getting a better trained, more committed workforce.
2. Employee Recognition
Employees need more payment for their work than just money; they need to be recognized. It’s the difference between feeling like a valued contributor versus just another cog wheel. And that difference can keep someone at your organization: Bersin & Associates found that companies with highly effective recognition programs have 31% lower voluntary turnover than other companies.
It’s important to note that recognition doesn’t just have to be a top-down process. Employees themselves are a valuable resource because they see the day-to-day accomplishments of their coworkers. And they want to use that knowledge with peer recognition. In fact, TINYpulse research on millennials found that 54% wish they had a way to recognize peers for a job well done.
3. Fun at Work
According to PGi, 88% of millennials are actively looking for a fun work environment. This certainly isn’t surprising, given the image of this generation as highly casual and social. But if you think “fun” just means fancy perks like ping-pong tables and nap pods, think again.
Look at what TINYpulse found when we asked employees what makes their workplace fun:
The overwhelming winner is peers. So really, the best way to make sure your employees have fun at work is to focus on building a strong workforce of supportive and collaborative people. And the occasional company happy hour or other team-building activity doesn’t hurt.
4. Serving Others
Don’t believe the stereotype that these young generations are selfish and self-absorbed. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 60% of Gen Z are active volunteers who want to have an impact on the world. The Cone Millennial Cause Study found that 79% of Gen Y want to work for a company that cares about how it impacts or contributes to society.
So build service into your company mission. This can be in the form of donating a percentage of your profits, offering your product for free to nonprofit organizations, or even gathering up your employees for a volunteer activity during the workday.
Think outside the box
The ideal workplace for Gen Y and Gen Z doesn’t just pay them lots of money. For them, job perks include authentic recognition, opportunities for career development, the ability to positively impact the world, and a great team. And when it comes down to it, these things make a great workplace for employees of all generations.