I want to have fun at work! Why every employer needs to take this request seriously

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It isn’t a fanciful wish, it’s the rallying cry of millennials in the workplace. They want more than a job, and the employer brand matters. And if you want to keep this generation’s talent, you have to know how to attract and engage it.

13th November 2015
By Ricky Knight / Managing Director

Fun at work? I’m not talking Wolf of Wall Street scenes of bacchanalian excess, but millennials do want a cool place to work. They want flexible working conditions, inspiring offices (just take a look at these) and a workplace that provides experiences. They want to feel like part of the bigger picture and they want their performance to be recognised and rewarded. This is why staff incentives, employee engagement schemes and reward and recognition programmes are becoming a staple of company HR strategy. Pensions and carriage clocks are out.


I also think this shift in employee identity and mentality is behind the rise of experiential events and brand experiences. Generation Y are digital natives, always plugged in and logged on, so real-life experiences carry valuable currency – that why’s the office has to be more than just another place with another screen. That’s why in terms of employee engagement and retaining top performers, the conversation needs to be about employee recognition, better relationships, discount codes and gift cards and brand experiences. According to Engage for Success, companies with high levels of engagement show an employee turnover rate 40% lower than those with low levels of engagement.

Just look at what’s happening at Goldman Sachs. One of most recognised and most successful brands in the world has admitted that it is having problems retaining young staff. What is it doing to keep these young bankers on board? New measures include faster promotions, less menial work and more diverse experiences. They’re also talking about improving work-life balance.

And employee engagement doesn’t just matter to the employer brand – turn it 180 degrees and it’s equally important to how customers perceive a brand. If a workforce is engaged, performing well,  happy and going above and beyond, this feeds into the customer relationship. Customers see this and they react to it positively. They’re looking for a reason to forge an emotional link to a brand and seeing this level of engagement is a big pull. It makes them want to come back. Disengaged employees have the opposite effect – an unhappy workforce is bad for business.

I think this shift in the employer–employee–customer dynamic is sending an important message to brands and companies. Yes, customer-facing advertising remains hugely important, but it is just as vital to look inward and create the employer brand that attracts and keeps the best talent. Generation Y are on the charge – they’re taking their place as employees and customers and it’s important that employers recognise this transition and keep up.