At the 2016 DMEC Annual Conference, a panel discussed a variety of workforce management issues facing employers in 2016. The panel was:
- Scott Mattes – Manager Workforce Health – Amerigas Propane
- Sonya Stephens – SR Benefits Analyst – Symantic Corporation
- Andrew Harrison – Americas HR Direct Benefits & Leave Operations Manager – Nike
- Nikki James – Americas HR Direct Leave Operations Supervisor – Nike
- Julie Johnson – Operations Manager, Leave Services – Liberty Mutual
- Joanne Archer – National Account Executive – Liberty Mutual
There are currently more generations in the workforce than ever before and there are significant differences between these generations. Understanding the differences between these generations is important for many reasons. Older workers are more career driven and dedicated. They prefer communication through email or phone. Younger workers are more focused on the experience than a career. Their preferred method of communication is texts or social media. Preferred training methods also vary for the generations with older workers preferring more formal classroom settings and younger workers preferring a more one-on-one approach with mentors and job coaches. There are some areas all generations have in common including a desire for flexible workplace schedules and ease in commuting, working for an ethical company, and performing meaningful work for fair wages.
Work-life balance is something that is more important to younger employees. Some employers address this by allowing telecommuting at least part of the time. Other companies have employees who telecommute full-time allowing those workers complete flexibility on where they choose to live. This approach helps employers attract and retain the best talent regardless of geographic region. Tools like email, Cisco Jabber, WebEx and all-hands meetings online allow your remote workforce to remain connected to the company.
Employee recognition programs are also a nice way to help recognize employees going above and beyond to help the company succeed. These are peer-to-peer monetary recognition programs which allow people to give a financial award to a co worker for a job well done.
Flexible time off programs also help maintain a work-life balance. Many companies have switched from tracking vacation and sick leave separately and they simply track personal time off (PTO). This gives workers more flexibility on how they use their leave of absence.
Co-morbidities in the workforce are having a significant impact on absenteeism, workers’ compensation and group health costs. Things like obesity, diabetes, smoking, and other issues are found in a large segment of the workforce. Wellness programs are trying to address these but it can be very challenging to change the personal health habits of your employees.
Parental leave is something that has been commonplace in Europe but companies in the United States have been slow to adopt this practice. This program recognizes the importance of both parents having time off to spend with a newborn child. States are starting to pass laws requiring unpaid parental leave for both parents. Some companies are looking at paid parental leave as a way to attract and retain younger workers but this can be a very costly benefit.