Time for Perks of Work, our weekly recap of intriguing data, surveys, and trends about the 21st century workplace.
Is open enrollment season your Super Bowl? Do you religiously Slack with work pals about dream benefits packages? Check this space every Friday to keep up with the latest water-cooler talk.
Give and Take
The Generation Z workforce, composed of early 20-somethings who have come of age in the gig economy, is determined to make the most of this whole employment thing.
Workforce management provider Kronos polled 3,400 employees from around the globe for its three-part series on modern living. Questions ranged from motivating factors for new hires—Highest: Generous pay (54%); Lowest: Free snacks (15%)—to what it takes to keep employees around for the long-haul.
The go-getters in the group laid out their professional wish lists.
Breathing room and a collaborative work environment (both 44%) were top priorities. Autonomy was right up there (39%), followed by a direct line to seasoned execs/potential mentors (34%).
“Gen Zers seek money first and foremost but enjoyable work, supportive managers, and recognition for a job well done don’t fall far behind,” analysts wrote.
One Day at a Time
The four-day workweek: Absolute dream? Or logistical nightmare?
University of Maryland business professor J. Gerald Suarez weighs the pros and cons of tinkering with the 9-to-5 model a la Microsoft’s recent experiment in Japan. That summer project, which provided paid leave to workers who took Fridays off and required management to shorten meetings, resulted in a productivity bump of 40%.
Suarez urged companies thinking about toying with work schedules to tread carefully. Trimming hours in economically depressed areas, he warned, could force workers into second jobs “potentially leading to faster burnout and negating the advantages of time off.”
Other issues to consider include:
- Customizing schedules to best serve employee/clients rather than trying “one size fits all” approach;
- Streamlining operations to accommodate those working fewer hours; and
- Making management support the changes so employees embrace the program.
The key, he said, is organizing things so it makes sense to everyone.
“A company could experience savings in energy consumption, maintenance and housekeeping. In the community, there might be less traffic and congestion on the roads, as well as increased volunteering and engagement,” Suarez wrote. Employees, meanwhile, could recharge more frequently by taking “a microvacation—and that’s a real benefit.”
Serving in the U.S. military is all about discipline—training that’s paying off for dedicated retirement savers.
According to First Command Financial Services’ latest survey, military families with incomes of at least $50,000 a year are more gung ho about socking away money than their civilian counterparts.
Those utilizing retirement plans or long-term savings accounts reported diligently setting aside roughly $1,200 per month, compared with the $800 monthly contribution from nonmilitary personnel.
Military families also beat the general populace in emergency savings, earmarking about$500 a month for unexpected costs vs. the $340 reserved by Joe Sixpack.
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