Two factors have been merging during the last few years to drive companies to bend over backwards in order to attract and retain top talent.
The first is the increasingly knowledge-based nature of our economy. In a postindustrial world, it’s people and not physical capital infrastructure who create a competitive advantage.
The second is the tight labor market, with historically low unemployment. This has created a sellers’ market when it comes to labor, putting employees in the enviable position of having many options when it comes to choosing places to work.
As a result, many companies are providing a variety of perks and benefits to stand out among the crowd of potential employers. This is true in the tech industry, where we see some particularly interesting manifestations of this trend.
Tech Benefit Trends That Resonate
As Chief People and Culture Officer at Smartsheet, Kara Hamilton says, “every week I seem to catch another article about ‘Tech companies with the craziest job perks’— promoting extras like on-site acupuncture, gourmet food, nap pods and egg freezing.”
She notes that the tech industry has the highest turnover rate of any industry and even for employee magnets like Google, the average employee tenure is only 1.1 years.
According to Hamilton, the way to retain employees—particularly Millennials who will make up more than 75% of the workforce by the year 2025—is through more meaningful cultural initiatives. She gives some examples.
A Sense of Purpose
“Millennials want to connect to the world through their work,” she says. “Because of this, it’s imperative that companies define their purpose— ‘why’ they exist—so employees have something they can connect with and rally behind.” Purpose is what inspires employee engagement, performance, and clarity at work, Hamilton adds.
Empowerment and Impacts
Hamilton says that Millennials, whom she defines as entrepreneurial at heart, want to be empowered to do great work. This means giving them the authority and flexibility to take action on ideas and exercise creativity independently. This generation wants to be heard; they want to make an impact; and they want to have room to complete their assigned tasks in their own way.
A Culture of Growth
Millennials value opportunities for growth and development more than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, and a vast majority rank it as a top priority when applying for new jobs. Giving employees opportunities to grow, develop, and advance both personally and professionally, is a great way to keep them around.
Companies go to great lengths to attract and retain talent. But flashy, gimmicky perks aren’t necessarily the key to doing that. Millennials, in particular, are after more meaningful, long-term benefits rather than ping-pong tables and bring-your-dog-to-work days. This requires that all managers are on board and competent at providing the right environment for their employees.