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The face of the Canadian workforce is changing rapidly and significantly. Is your company’s value offering to new candidates changing with it?
In 2020, Millennials accounted for the largest generational share of working Canadians, accounting for 37% of the workforce. In addition, Gen Z, the up and coming generation of technology natives, is expected to account for nearly 20% of working Canadians by the end of this year. With the eldest Gen Z members turning 23 in 2020, this means the newest crop of university graduates never knew life without the internet. This also means the youngest generation is ripe and ready to apply for their first real adult jobs – and they have high expectations when it comes to compensation.
When you’re talking about a generation that is more educated, more understanding of technology, more eager to affect change, and more desiring to grow from failure than any other generation before them – the result is highly intelligent, highly driven individuals ready to disrupt the business world. These are individuals who, in turn, will return results quickly, efficiently, and impressively to employers that prioritize their well-being.
In other words, the newest generation has the ability to disrupt your business for the better, so now is the time to update your benefits plan so you can recruit the best of the best – because otherwise, someone else will.
With that being said, here are the top five benefits you should be offering if your goal is to competitively recruit and retain talent from the largest and the brightest generations of the Canadian workforce.
1. Flexible Schedule & Remote Work
If you ask yourself what the benefit is of working 9-5, do you have a good answer? Or is it because that’s the way it’s always been done? Fortunately, accepting and encouraging change in the workplace is why we have workplace safety, equal work opportunities (in Canada), and minimum livable wage requirements. Accepting changes in the workplace helps companies stay on top.
So as our world becomes increasingly stressful and work-life balance becomes increasingly unobtainable, a flexible working schedule offered by employers is becoming a highly desirable benefit. 47% of Millennials and 38% of Gen Z view work-life balance as a top priority when choosing a future employer, and offering a flexible schedule will benefit your company too. Flexible schedules routinely show an increase in employee productivity, with one study finding employees work an average increase of 16 days per year and are 10% less distracted when given a flexible schedule. Employees who work hard and are loyal to your company shouldn’t need the supervision associated with a typical 9-5.
2. Paid Time Off
It’s no secret that time off is a key component of work-life balance, and paid time off is seen as an essential benefit no matter which generation we’re talking about. While your company (hopefully) already offers paid time off to employees, more companies are opting to improve this offering to get a leg up on their competition, some even opting to put no limit on PTO (no, you don’t need unlimited PTO to stay competitive, it’s just a nice idea).
Rather, the best place to start is a thorough cost analysis of what your company can afford to offer employees for paid time off, without seeing a financial loss. Remember to factor in the increase in employee productivity from their extra days off – you may be surprised by the impact de-stressing days can have on a worker’s individual ROI.
Many firms are opting for small improvements to their PTO offerings such as forgoing the probationary period to qualify (because you can help your employees become loyal through benefits, don’t test their loyalty before doling out paid days off). Others are seeing success by adding a higher starting number of weeks than is typical for their industry.
Whichever strategy you choose, going beyond the norm for your industry and company size, even minutely, can help set you apart in the competitive world of recruitment.
3. Wellness Programs (& Other Office Perks)
Pet friendly offices. Lunch time salad bars. Pool tables. Onsite fitness centers. Beer Fridays. Group outings. Getting creative with office perks and employee wellness doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, but it goes a long way to create a positive space where employees are eager (or at least less reluctant) to spend most of their days.
Traditional wellness programs are the easiest way to get started, and are implemented by employers to encourage a healthy lifestyle among employees. Plans can easily be adapted to suit the needs of your staff, your budget, or the orientation of your workspace. Plans often include items such as access to a gym facility (whether this be an onsite fitness center, payment of a gym membership, or monthly personal training sessions) or paying for access to a variety of fitness classes such as yoga, boxing, or spinning. You may also have employees interested in a smoking cessation program, healthy cooking classes, or lunches served in-office. Therein lies the value of a wellness program – it’s not a one size fits all approach, and you can easily find providers and plans that match your needs.
In addition (though not a wellness option), more firms are ditching casual Fridays and are incorporating more casual everyday perks to drive a more open office culture. The tech industry in particular is noted for its incorporation of foosball, ping pong, or pool tables in office, beer fridges and happy hour Fridays (or whichever weeknight strikes your fancy), pet friendly offices (petting animals has been proven to be good for your health), and other perks that, in general, make the office a desirable place to be.
4. Healthcare Spending Account
While offering coverage for dental, vision, and healthcare expenses are a basic offering every benefits package should include, not all employees have the same needs when it comes to allocating these funds. Having realized a better model exists, some companies are ditching the standard one-size fits all approach of insuring basic healthcare expenses for a fixed amount, thereby setting themselves apart in the job seeker market. The better alternative is, of course, a healthcare spending account, which allows employees to make decisions about spending on their health by themselves.
We began this article talking about generations in the Canadian workforce, and with today’s multi-generational workforce, it’s absurd to assume everyone has the same healthcare needs. By offering flexible dollars, you give employees the power to allocate funds based on their priorities. Whether an employee chooses to prioritize contact lenses, orthodontics, fitness classes, or an expensive message, you cater to a larger job seeker market when you offer the ability to choose.
If you didn’t have incentive enough, contributions to HSAs are tax deductible, in addition to a number of other financial benefits you can read about here.
5. Mental Health Prioritization
*TW discussion of suicide
Did you know by age 40, 50% of the Canadian population will have experienced or has a mental illness? Unfortunately when you’re going through a crisis, it can be next to impossible to be proactive about seeking a solution. It makes matters worse when you’re unable to afford a private therapist.
Gen Z and Millennials are particularly susceptible to mental illness, with suicide accounting for 24% of all deaths for individuals aged 15 to 24, and 16% of deaths aged 25 – 40. In other words, Gen Z and Millennials have great cause to choose an employer that values their mental well-being.
As an employer, offering an employee assistance program is a simple way to make a big impact of the lives of your employees, and shows job seekers your values as an employer. An employee assistance program works by offering counselling to employees when they need it – for any reason that arises. EAPs often offer counselling services for mental health problems, financial issues, stress related to eldercare, or marital issues. In other words, an EAP is a crucial support system for mental health and wellbeing, and can set your company apart in the marketplace.