Despite all the talk about wanting to attract and keep young savvy workers, too many managers in the United States are jumping backward in work/life policies.
According to a new survey of nearly 10,000 workers in eight countries by Ernst & Young’s Global Generations Research, millennials are the most dissatisfied. Lack of flexibility was cited among the top reasons millennials quit jobs. And nearly 40 percent of young workers, male or female, in the United States are so unhappy with the lack of paid parental-leave policies that they say they would be willing to move to another country.
Move to another country! That’s a harsh response and yet, the facts bear out the ugly truth:
*In the United States, the only advanced economy in the world with no paid parental-leave policy, only 9 percent of companies offered fully paid maternity-leave benefits 2014, down from 16 percent in 2008,
*For spouses and partners, 14 percent of U.S. companies offer paid leave, either partially or fully paid, down from 16 percent in 2008.
*Families and Work Institute found that the share of employers offering reduced hours and career flexibility also has fallen. Flexible work options are often available only to parents and not individuals who care for elders or single people wanting to have a life outside the office.
Backward stats and backward thinking.
Here’s another harsh reality: workers might stay physically with a company but many have left mentally. The 2008 recession still has individuals doing the work of two or three people while salaries have stagnated and the cost of living has risen.
What to do:
1. Remember, one size does not fit all. Within small business units, discuss the reality of what work REALLY is necessary and adds value. How is that work parceled out? Where might there be room for flexibility? Using Steven Jobs’ "simple stick", reduce the tasks to the simplest components. Slice and dice again.
2. Collaborate. Resilient individuals know that they need a support network around them. Remember the playground mantra, "share your toys?" What can be shared—both work and off-work time?
3. Take a deeper look at pay practices. The average CEO pay is 257 times the average worker’s salary, according to a 2014 Associated Press/Equilar pay study. That gap has increased more than 50% since 2009. Take a lesson from Gravity Payments CEP, Greg Price, who announced in April 2015 that he was slashing his $1 million salary to give big raises to his employees. He jumped the minimum wage to $50,000, and reduced his wage to $50,000 It will be up to $70,000 in 2017. Granted, few will be this drastic but think of the message it sends.
4. Create a small, rotating advisory board that represents the different age levels and family interests of the business unit. Note I start with a business unit first—particularly if it a huge, hide-bound, cumbersome elephant of a company. Change will take too long. Select a business unit that can be the vanguard for developing future thinking about practices versus dwelling in a dinosaur mindset.
PS: Will you be the one to lead the charge?
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