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Millennial Minded

This Valentine's Day, think about status of that employee-company love affair

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Happy Valentine's Day! Or is it? If the “honeymoon” is over, you may want to read this — regardless of whether you are an employee or an employer of those currently falling out of love with their jobs.

Professionals that have worked for a company between one and three years are the least happy, according to a recent study from Robert Half, one of the nation’s largest professional staffing companies, and Happiness Works, developer of Moodmap, a platform that enables businesses to measure employees’ experience at work.

“We have that found that workers are happiest and the least stressed during the first year of the job, but between 12 and 24 months, data shows that workers become less interested in their work and increasingly stressed,” Richard Singer, director of permanent placement services for central New Jersey at Robert Half, said.

Well, whose responsibility is on-the-job happiness, really?

According to the survey, 25 percent of working professionals in North America said it is their own. But while only 5 percent said it entirely the employer’s responsibility, 70 percent said it falls on both the shoulders of the employee and the employer to cultivate a happy workplace.

So, what can employers do to help spice things up?

“Employers need to be proactive in continuing to engage and challenge their employees after their first years on the job,” Singer said.

First, he said, it is important to focus on the fundamentals that influence an employee’s happiness.

“Game rooms and free lunches don’t necessarily make up for dull work or negative corporate cultures,” Singer said. “One has to feel that they are the right fit for the job and the company by participating in interesting and meaningful work. They need to feel empowered to make decisions that will keep them invested in their jobs. They need to develop critical skills in order to grow and advance their careers. They need to know that fairness matters and that the companies in which they are a part of are transparent. And, they need to feel appreciated for their work.”

Employers can start by providing their “flight risk” employees with meaningful — and often lengthier — projects.

“Millennials in particular, if they get bored, will move very quickly,” Singer said. “Years ago, people would stay in their job for 20 to 30 years, but, today, the average person leaves a job every two to three years.

“So, employers should encourage professional growth by offering developing and training opportunities, and give assignments that stretch employees in their skills and experiences.” 

In doing so, employers still need to be mindful of manageable workloads.

“Employees need to feel that the company has their back and is concerned with their life outside of work,” Singer said. “Flexible work schedules and opportunities in which to telecommute increase happiness and therefore the loyalty and tenure of employees.”

On the flip side, Singer said, employees also can and should be proactive.

“Don’t wait for your manager to offer you new projects — ask!” he said. “And, as you take on more responsibility, make sure you keep up with compensation trends by asking for a raise.

“Most of the time, managers will be receptive to such discussions with those who have produced.” 

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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