Sunday, December 28, 2008

Perkanomics: Employee Perks in a tight market

There are books, articles and awards for companies that offer the best Perks for employees. There is every spectrum of perk from the likes of Google (free organic food, free bike repairs and free hair cuts - no joke!) to Adobe, who offers biodegradable and compost freindly cutlery.

What is interesting about Googles perks, different from others, is that all their perks are centred around freeing up employee time so that their employees can work MORE! It is genius! They take away time consuming tasks (going to the dry cleaners, doing laundry, preparing food) so that their employees can have their schedules cleared for more work productivity.

Kira Vermond wrote an interesting article in the Globe and Mail about Perks in the time of a recession.

Some of the perks in question from Kira Vermond;s article are perks for the "Have's". In times of motivating a work force, employees "C" level to "Entry" level, should feel that they are all giving something up equally. Corporate Culture is a fragile entity. I agree with cutting back perks that only a few can participate in - Executive Trips, Corporate vacations. Perks, in my opinion should have an objective. Building interoffice relationships, cross training, resume building, recognizing the employees family for their support of the organization.

It is time to get creative on how we recognize and retain talent. I like any perk that improves a person: One free day off a quarter to do volunteer work on behalf of the company (Junior Achievement for example). How about bringing a Kick boxing instructor in? A Yoga instructor? Cooking Instructor? Almost every facet of entertainment these days is about giving the audience a new experience. Perhaps that is where employers should focus. A big motivator for me would be a leadership course at Richard Ivey. Better yet for the company - send me with my colleagues and create a buzz along with a renewed passion for work!

In some ways, as sad as this is to say, some people don't know they have had a good day until they have a bad day. They have no reference point. Employees forget all the thought and good will having gone into their current benefit plan. Unfortunately, it may only be until the benefits are gone, will they truly appreciate them.

As an employer, I am looking for high value, low cost, BIG impact benefits. I look forward to watching as myself and other companies, big and small, reinvent the meaning of "Employee Benefits" that create sustainability for all.

Happy 2009!

Susan Corcoran

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hiring Generation Y

As a Generation X'er, I find the Y generation perplexing at times. I recently read an article in Profit Magazine that did a good job at summarizing a generation so different from Gen X'ers and Zoomers.

Generation Y: Born 1981 to 2000 They represent 26% of the Canadian Population or roughly 8.3 Million strong

This is a generation that has by in large never been told no. There was very little winning and losing but positive reinforcement just for trying. Almost a socialism of competitiveness. They have been encouraged to voice their opinions and question their surroundings. This TV, Multi Media, Video Game playing, immediate gratification generation has been highly supervised from school to day care to camp to organized sports that they require more hands on direction than previous generations at work.

They require regular informal feed back. They have been conditioned to receive praise for everything that they do. We just need to remember this as we manage them. Immediate feed back is the best.

Motivators are affiliation, purpose, recognition, responsibility, being mentored by leaders, training, contributions to making a difference at an organization as well as skills they can take to the next job. Let's not forget about money! Their expectations for their monetary worth may be a bit lofty, especially given the current economic conditions. Create a compensation plan that pays for performance.

Since the Y Gen is young (or this is an obvious sign of how old I am getting), they may look at work as something to do between weekends or a means to a lifestyle, it is best to use interview techniques that uncover intrinsic motivation and work ethic.

Set expectations as we may assume they understand corporate environments, including: being on time, the use of the company email address book (you know what I mean!), attire, language, cell phone/black berry etiquette, time management, authority and calling in sick.

We need to nurture this generation as we watch them flourish into our community's future pillars of enterprise!

Gain the competitive edge and embrace Generation Y!

Susan Corcoran