SWC Featured In Crain’s Millennial Story

October 13, 2014   //   News

Four Perks to Win Millennials

Money talks, but extras do matter. Here are some benefits that recruiters say are getting candidates’ attention in 2014.

BYE-BYE, 9 TO 5

Whether employees have family obligations or just a life of their own, versatility in scheduling is practically mandatory. That can include everything from flexible hours to working longer hours some days in exchange for time off on others. Summer hours and half-day Fridays are increasingly popular. And, despite what Yahoo Inc. CEO Marissa Mayer might say, telecommuting is alive and well.

But there is a twist in some of those flexible arrangements, says Tom Gimbel, president and CEO of LaSalle Network Inc., a Chicago staffing and recruiting firm: Some companies are making employees earn it, granting flexibility only to proven performers with a few years under their belts. “When you hire people, you really want face time. You don’t want to get burned,” Mr. Gimbel says. “It’s definitely a different work ethic that’s come out of the recession.”

LUNCH-AND-LEARNS AND TUITION REIMBURSEMENTS

From technical training and skills certifications to full-blown tuition reimbursement and sabbaticals, professional development is a big-time enticement. SWC Technology Partners Inc., an Oak Brook IT consulting firm with 160 employees and an expected $30 million in sales this year, even created a position to identify and facilitate these kinds of opportunities for employees.

Patrick O’Rourke, SWC’s human resources and talent development coordinator, does everything from plan companywide lunch-and-learns to create specialized curricula and programming for individual departments. Each new hire also is paired with a career mentor in his or her field. “Most candidates choose to accept an offer with us based on our ability to help them develop their talent and grow their career,” says Fran Peters, SWC’s human resources manager.

Eric Jandacek, 24, says he knew from his first interview that SWC was serious about career development. “At the time, I had no path,” says Mr. Jandacek, who joined the company as an account manager in October 2013. “At SWC, I knew I could hone my skills and develop a great understanding for things I was really interested in.”

SWEAT INCENTIVES

Wellness and fitness perks are hot. And win-win. Employers combat rising health care costs; employees reduce stress, improve their health and have fun. The sky’s the limit: on-site fitness centers or gym memberships, workday yoga classes and chair massages, wellness workshops and nutrition classes, intramural sports teams, and athletic competitions both serious and silly.

One more thing: “Gamification” (i.e., using rules and rewards) is now a big part of the draw. Such strategies can be simple; for example, a health insurance discount for not smoking. Or they can take a page from Schaumburg-based insurer Zurich North America, which gamifies almost every aspect of its wellness programming. Health assessments, biometric screenings, online coaching and fitness challenges are woven into the fabric of corporate life. And employees are rewarded for healthy outcomes like a lowered body mass index or even for besting co-workers in a friendly little walking competition (using company-provided pedometers).

SWC Technology Partners Culture Fitness

Each month, SWC Technology Partners organizes a free exercise class and nutrition demonstrations for employees. Here, several participate in a Zumba class.

DRESS DOWN, EAT UP

Casual attire, pets allowed, foosball tables—all cliches yet all still going strong. But if there’s a bellwether of today’s laid-back work culture, it’s food. Lots of food. From catered lunches to fully stocked kitchens, happy hours to juice bars, barbecues to bakeoffs, today’s companies might as well be run by legions of grandmothers imploring everyone to “eat, eat!”

SWC Technology Partners, the company with a dedicated talent developer, has an enthusiastic food fetish, including a weekly fresh fruit and veggie delivery, regular Friday happy hours, monthly breakfast bars and celebrations for pretty much anything, such as a pie-baking contest for Pi Day (March 14) and heart-shaped pizzas for Valentine’s Day. Food perks and other niceties might not be the tipping point for prospective recruits, but they don’t hurt, says Ms. Peters, the company’s HR manager. “What those perks do is illustrate how committed we are to creating and maintaining an engaging, fun work culture.”

This article, “Four Perks to Win Millennials” originally appeared online at Crain’s Chicago Business.