On-Demand Webinar - Millennials Speak: “How to Keep Us From Quitting”

Millennial workers leaving

Millennials are your knowledge base, leaders, and pipeline. And in the wake of the pandemic, a lot of them are saying, “I quit!” It’s a sign of a generation looking for flexibility as they reevaluate their careers and how work and life fit. What do they want?

Watch Millennials Speak: “How to Keep Us From Quitting” and hear from Ben Eubanks, Chief Research Officer at Lighthouse Research & Advisory, how to keep these employees and what they expect from work going forward.


Maribeth: Hello, everyone. We are really excited, Ben and I, about today's conversation. I'll introduce Ben in just a moment, but I am Maribeth Bearfield. I am honored to be the chief HR officer at Bright Horizons. And Bright Horizons, you can see on the slide here, we are a leading global education and care company. We partner with employers to provide exceptional learning, family care, and workforce education. And really, I like to think of it as we provide benefits that support the lifecycle of an employee, customizable solutions. And we are a global company, we have just around 34,000 employees globally. So really exciting to be here today and really exciting to...you can see here on the right-hand corner, all of our services. So I won't go through all of those. Instead, I'm really excited to introduce my partner in crime for this afternoon, Ben Eubanks.

Ben is the chief research officer at Lighthouse Research & Advisory. I was thrilled to be on his podcast a few months ago. And during that time, Ben asked me all the questions. So today, I get to ask some questions of Ben, and so really excited to do that. So I would love to turn this over to Ben right now and give him a few minutes to introduce himself, Ben.


Ben: Thank you so much, Maribeth. And hey, everybody, so glad to be here. And I'm suddenly wishing I'd asked easier questions to Maribeth in our conversation on the podcast because who knows what I'm gonna get today? Now, this is gonna be a ton of fun. So I'm Ben Eubanks, chief research officer. I spend my days doing research in and around what happens when someone makes good talent decisions. How do they retain the right people? How do they find the right people? How do they bring them in and tell their stories? And so it's a ton of fun to be able to do the research that I get to do. One of the other things we do is kind of cover the marketplace of tools and technologies and things that wrap around how we serve our employees because we all know that it's really, really hard job, number one, but it's hard to do it yourself.

And so having the tools around you, having trusted providers helps to make that goal you have of creating a better experience for all the people that are kind of under your care an easier job. So when I started my career in HR 1,000 years ago, feels like, that was the goal that I had every day. And so now I get a chance to use the research, use the things that we learn in our work here at Lighthouse to help make that possible. And we'll share some of the data points and stats and things with you today, but it's really all about enabling you to be the very best HR and talent leader that you can be. I'm so glad to be here and honored to share the stage with you, Maribeth.


Maribeth: Thank you, Ben. And I'm thrilled to be here with you today. And couple of things, when I think about the fact that today is February 1st, so it is almost been two years since we have been living and working during really unprecedented times and the world has changed and organizations are continuing to face hiring challenges. We've got the great resignation, the unprecedented turnover, etc. And we've also seen where the relationship between employees and employers is beginning to change. And for somebody who's been in human resources for as many years as I have, I can honestly say I've never seen where that relationship has become so different as it is today, where employees are really stepping in front of their employers and saying, this is what I need. And if you can't provide that to me, I'll go next door because I think they can.

And we've also seen where millennials, and Ben, you did not share that one fact about yourself, but Ben is a millennial, but we've seen, look, where millennials are looking for things to be different. And we need to realize that millennials are a large part of our population. So today, we're gonna focus on that group as well. And I know Ben's done a lot of great research in that. So with no further ado, the first thing we wanna do though is ask a question of you all because we hope this will be as informal and as conversational as we can. So what's the top reason millennials are quitting their jobs? What do you guys think? What do you believe are the top reasons? And you can choose more than one reason here, but we'd love to hear what your thoughts are on this. So we'll give you a moment to fill out the poll. Okay. Wow. Better work-life balance.


Ben: That's really intriguing.


Maribeth: So Ben, with this... And I agree, I think it is intriguing. I will have to say, I'm not surprised with just the people I have been speaking to and the way we are working differently. But Ben, I'd love to start with the first question. Why are millennials so important in the business world?


Ben: What is interesting to me is it seems like a couple of years ago, all the conversations were about how do we attract millennials? How do we hire the right ones? How do we get them interested in working with our companies? And then there was this kind of quiet period where we didn't talk about it at all. And suddenly, now we're ready to talk about it again. And I think the important part now is obviously hiring is a challenge for everybody right now. But one of the key parts is that these people who years ago were just entering the workforce are now in key positions of leadership, key subject matter experts. They are really contributing in powerful ways. They are in your bench strength of amazing leaders that you are looking to grow into strategic positions in the company. So they're serving all these key roles and now is the time.

And every company I'm talking to today is talking about how do we keep our people? How do we make sure that they stay with us? And I think that's the real picture here that you and I are trying to paint with this bigger conversation today that every single person listening to this, every HR leader, if you're not taking a moment to think about the unique needs of one of the biggest segments of your entire workforce demographics, then you probably should do that. Take a little bit of time to do that. Because if you can do one thing to serve that bigger audience and retain them as a group, that's gonna be a high leverage activity or opportunity for you to really impact what's working and what's working for attention at your company.


Maribeth: Yeah. And Ben, one of the things that I know you had shared earlier with me in your research was that in 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials. Like, that was just staggering to me. And to your point, these are our leaders. These are the leaders of today and the leaders of our future. So it's important. So Ben, maybe you can share more about what is the impact, what has their impact been on the workforce?


Ben: I'm talking to company leaders all the time, and again, you see this internally at your work at Bright Horizons, I'm sure. But I'm talking to these leaders that are saying, hey, we are trying to make sure that we're serving this group within the workplace, but they have all these different needs that continue to evolve depending on where they are in their life. So when they're first getting into the jobs, it was just how do we help them with maybe they need education benefits, maybe we need something to serve them and make them interested in student loan payment benefits. But once they get in there and start building a family, for example, the things that they care about, their biggest priorities really start to shift. And that's one of the things we saw in our research in the last year that companies...that the workforce has started reprioritizing the things that matter most of them and the shake-up in the last two years has really forced people to stop and reflect and say, "What is most important to me?"

And for a lot of them, it was a family thing, or it was pursuing a passion, or there's all these things that are turning their attention back to. And it's up to us to really tap into what those things are and to understand them best. Every single person listening right now, you are the expert on your own company. We're gonna give you stats and data and research and things to help you spur some ideas and help you think bigger about the challenges that are ahead, but you are the expert on what your people need. And if you haven't stopped to ask them, I am really hoping that one of the action items you're gonna take out of today's conversation is that you're gonna stop and ask them some of those things. Because we're seeing the data that, for example, one of the things that we saw in our research, 6 and 10 millennials told us last fall that they have considered quitting a job in the last 18 months because of their mental health.

They're seeing a lot of stress. They're feeling all these things, wearing them down and overwhelming them. So they're looking for their employer to extend a hand on this, extend some sort of support. And if they don't see that, they're gonna see that somewhere else. When that recruiter across the street calls them with a competitive offer, they're gonna say they seem to care about these things because my employer hasn't yet done that. So this is some encouragement to all of you that we have the opportunity still. The picture that's painted in the news where people have one foot out the door and they're waiting for that thing to jump out, that's not the story we're hearing. And that's not the story we're seeing when we're talking and doing research with candidates and employees. They're saying, "No, I really wish my company would just pay attention to me. They would just give me some indication that they're listening to what I'm saying. That's the thing that would make me stay more than anything else."


Maribeth: Yeah. And it's interesting, Ben, because I think, look, we've struggled with different generations over the years, but I think today what's different, and I saw one of the questions that came through, what's different about millennials I believe is that their voice is loud. And that there was a time when I know we came to work and you never told your employer what you wanted, you basically went and did your job. And I think today, their voice is loud. And what they want from an employer, is very different. And so I'd love to hear, Ben, you talked a little bit more about the research that you've done. I know you've done a lot of research on engagement and a lot of research on retention, and this slide, why they're leaving and what we need to do to retain them.


Ben: Oh, goodness. So some of these options were on the previous slide for those of you that remember on the poll options here. The thing that we do, we look at our research and we call this the great reprioritization, which is so much harder to say in the Great Resignation, but I hate the concept of the Great Resignation because it feels like this tidal wave coming to overwhelm us all and we can't do anything about it. So what we actually see in the research is we do have leverage we can, pull buttons we can push, pick the metaphor that you like. Doesn't matter to me. We have things that we can do, actions we can take to keep our people. So a couple of things, for example, in the data we see, for millennial specifically because....I'll get to the note.

So for millennial specifically, number one reason that they said that they have quit a job already, the group that we surveyed that said, "I've already quit, I've gone somewhere else," the biggest thing was stress and burnout. They're feeling all this pressure building up. They're not able to take the time off that they've accrued because everybody's too busy. The company's already short-staffed and they're getting even more short-staffed every day. Like, that's building up on people. The number one reason people are thinking about going somewhere else though are saying, hey, I haven't left yet. But if someone offered me the right sort of benefits, the right sort of pay, that would really move me to go in that direction. And what interested me most in the research is sometimes I think I know what I'm gonna see in the data. I think I know what an audience is gonna say.

Women were more likely than men to say if the right offer comes along, I'll always entertain that because when I started digging into that, by the way, just for your curiosity, I talked to some female leaders in the HR space and said, "What do you think about this?" They said, "Well, I've worked in companies that didn't respect me as a woman for the things I believe and bringing to the table. And so if a company believes that and sees that and wants to reward that, I'm always gonna entertain those offers." So we're seeing all those kinds of things. And on the flip side, say you wanna do something to try to connect with your people, to try to retain them. The number of one, 7 out of 10 of your people, if you lined up 10 of them, 7 of them said better benefits would keep me here, offering me something more flexible, something more personalized, something more tailored to me and what I'm looking for. To your point, Maribeth, this, this group is more vocal than ever before.

And we're seeing employees start to group together and say, well, we have a voice and we're gonna be loud about it. We're gonna raise that voice and raise those issues when we need to. And so they're asking for some sort of recognition, some sort of indication again, that we're listening to them and we're trying to, with whatever resources we can, respond to them appropriately. Work-life balance is definitely a priority for millennials. A lot of them have young children. We have four kids by the way. So I'm living that every single day right now. But I'll tell you one thing really quickly that ties into this bigger picture because when we looked at that data and we cut it by age groups, there were no two age groups with the top two priorities that were the same. So that just tells you that as you start to look at your employees, you can't just assume that everyone wants the same thing. And you start breaking them apart, each of them has a different thing that draws them in.

For some of them, it's relationships at work. For some of them, it's meaningful work. For some of them, the pay and the benefits. Those are the things that really make those opportunities shine for them. So looking at your people and really understanding them well allows you to serve them better at the end of the day. And that's what our jobs are really all about. Right, Maribeth?


Maribeth: Ben, it's such a great point because for years, especially in human resources, it was about consistency. Treat everyone the same, kind of the peanut butter approach. Everybody gets the same. That was kind of HR 101. That's changing. And so today, we see working parents who need child care benefits, we see older employers who may need elder care for their parents, or we see individuals who need some kind of tuition support or college coaching for their... So it is very different... Healthcare. It's all different for different people. And I believe we are going to get to the point where we go back to that cafeteria plan of benefits where people pick and choose because the world has truly changed. And I think, Ben, just back to one other point, when we think about the fact that millennials are leading the search for new jobs, 46% of them plan to do so in the next year. I mean, for any employer, that has to be a staggering statistic and really get us, to the forefront of thinking about what do we do to meet their needs and to retain them.

We saw the whole work-life balance was what the audience believes is the largest trigger. And I have to say I agree with that. I think and I believe for the first time in my career, now that I've been working from home for so long, I feel like I've got my life and my work in balance, where before it was always work, work, work, work, work. And now I just feel like there's a better balance with that and there's flexibility. And for years we said there are three reasons somebody leaves their employer, their manager, their colleagues, and their career development. And over the past year or so, you've begun to hear the fourth and that's flexibility. That people regardless of generation are looking for, as the audience says, career-life balance, as well as flexibility. So, Ben, I'd love to talk about how do we define flexibility because I think it means different things for different people and would love to hear, what you've heard and what your research has shown you in this regards.


Ben: So one of the things that was shocking to me is when I think about flexibility, when it pops in my head, I think back to my time working in HR and I think about the times an employee asked me about that. Five, six, seven years ago, the conversations were usually about, I'd like to work from home, or I'd like to work remotely part-time, or I'd like to do... We always think about flexibility being that. And we asked an actual population of employees, what does flexibility mean to you? How would you define that without giving them any sort of leading questions? Where I work, as you can see here on in the data, fifth on the list, number five. And we keep thinking that where someone works and I've gotta do my job for my accounts and all those kind of things. We think those are the biggest priority, but they're actually not. The biggest thing comes down to, I want a little bit of control, a little bit of flexibility, a little autonomy in how I get my job done.

And I'll pause for just a second and say that Maribeth and I are both throwing these things out to all of you out there in the audience about things we can be doing and suggestions and strategies and all those things, but we all know that we don't control all the variables in this. As Maribeth mentioned a minute ago, the manager plays a part in this as well. And what the data show us, unfortunately, is about one out of every two millennials say that they do not feel supported by their manager. And we also see if someone agrees with that statement that they don't feel supported, they're twice as likely to leave, not at some vague point in the future, but within the next 30 days from their job. So that manager and having them recognize and appreciate and support that employee, that's a critical piece of this bigger puzzle. So flexibility, again, they're off in the tip of the spear when it comes to implementing flexibility.

We can throw the policies out there if we'd like to, but their managers gotta work with them to make sure that actually gels and fits how those things work. One of the other things we talked about earlier, though, were benefits and how we offer those to our people. And you can see that here on the list as a priority. How I access those benefits, what sort of things are available. The things that matter most to me as an individual. Having those sorts of choices allow me to reflect on the fact that my company cares enough not to just offer me the standard set that they offer to every single employee, they're offering things that matter to me and to my family. And that's the part about benefits. I have a good friend who's spent 20 years just being as deep in benefits as possible. And if somebody out there probably have that same background, bless you, because I didn't have the patience for that.

But she said the reason that she gets so excited about doing that work is because it's not just about some transaction, but it's about you're serving that person's family and their personal lives and helping them to really live their best life because they have the support of these healthcare benefits and other things that you're providing for them. So it's a really powerful thing. Sorry, I got off my soapbox there for a second, but the flexibility piece here matters so much because it gives us a chance to recognize and appreciate the things that make each individual unique. And we all know, in the last couple of years especially, we know the importance of recognizing the individuality of any employee that we have. We recognize that, we're focusing on inclusion and all those kinds of things. And this is another way we can do to say, we see you for who you are and we wanna offer something that fits your needs and your family's needs because we appreciate you and we want you to stay here.

That's a really powerful message when you stop and think about it. And if someone's not hearing that at their employer, and you get to use that when your recruiters or your recruiting team call someone and tells them about a job and say, we're not only offering you a job, we're offering you this set of options because we care about you and what you have to offer for our company. That's a different story. It's a really compelling story to be able to tell when you're reaching out to those candidates as well. There are so many positive benefits to this Maribeth, and I get excited talking about it because it gives us a chance to really not just be competitive as employers, but care about the people that we're trying to take care of.


Maribeth: Yeah, Ben, it's fascinating because I really think it's all coming together now, isn't it? Employees are beginning to say and share that they need different kinds of support to be able to do their job and to be able to work. A father of four, you need support, you need help to be able to do that. And, I think the past two years has just quickly changed the way we look at work. And I think we've gotta just continue to be really creative. You said something though that's so important, and it's we have to listen. We have to listen to our employees. What do you need? Regardless of your age, regardless of your generation, what do you need to be able to work and live successfully? So I think that's kind of the golden rule of work right now, just listening and what does somebody need?

The other thing, Ben, that I hear and get questioned a lot about as I talk to different employers is frontline workers. And, okay, great, working from home's been wonderful, it's given me a different kind of focal point or whatever, I've been able to work differently. But frontline workers, and we at Bright Horizons have our teachers who are at work, they cannot work from home. They cannot work differently. Their job is in a classroom, in a room. And I think of healthcare workers. I do a lot of speaking with CHROs from healthcare and they talk about the nursing population. Their frontline workers who have had to not just work at a workplace, but during the past two years have had to put in a lot of hours and time. So how do we look at flexibility in these non-flexible jobs and industries like healthcare, for instance?


Ben: One of the things that became immediately apparent to me and looking at the research and talking with these employees and talking with these workers who represent the broad workforce across the country, one of the things that we see is that not a single person who's driving a forklift or working in a retail store or serving someone at a fast-food restaurant, none of those people have any illusions that they're gonna be doing that job from their couch, okay? For some reason we think they all want to, actually, they have no expectation of doing that. But they do want us to offer them something else in terms of flexibility. And we have these other levers we can pull to provide that for them. I saw a comment a few minutes ago, a question from someone asking about what about work-life balance beyond just the hours they're working. What about their schedules and things like that.

And so that's one I'll start off with, as an example, is when we are offering people the options around scheduling, we can offer some flexibility around that. We can allow them to take time off in shorter snippets, or we can allow people to swap shifts with each other instead of having to have a manager in the mix on all those decisions. That makes it faster, that can make it easier if you have the right controls in place. And it lets people have a little more control and flexibility over their own schedule. And when they get to work and how they get those things done. I have a good friend who works for a manufacturing organization, and they said when they have to take time off, it's like pulling teeth. It's difficult. It causes challenges and problems. They said, at my old company, I could just reach out to someone else who had the same shift or normally work the same shift and say, hey, could you come for me this time? And they would do that. And so something as simple as being able to offer some flexibility around when you schedule your time off.

We talk about control and autonomy in your job. That doesn't mean abdicating our responsibility for results. That means telling people, we're gonna tell you what you're responsible for and you tell us how you'd like to make sure that's done. Give them a little bit more say-so in that. That idea isn't new, by the way. I read a book probably 10 years ago about, a best-buy I tried out called the Results-Only Work Environments, where they allowed people to work when and where and how they wanted to, as long as they were responsible for the results. And it comes back to holding people accountable for those things, but giving them some say-so in how it gets done because we all innately crave some autonomy in our work. And for some reason, when we hire people, we say, I like you. I trust you. I believe that you have the right skills to this job. And now I'm gonna take away any freedom because I don't trust you anymore. And now we're gonna tell you all the things and force you into these policies and practices, and you have no more freedom to make any choices. It's all walking down this narrow path.

And as silly as that sounds, every company does that on some level. And we have an opportunity now to step back and say, that probably was never good idea in the first place, and now we can probably rethink that a little bit. Two more quick ideas on the flexibility piece just to give you some more options here because it's so broad. Number one, progress. Helping someone feel like they're moving towards some achievable metric or goal or result, helping them feel like they have some sort of next step at your company. That seems so simplistic, but two out of every three employees, if you line up up three of your people right in front of you right now, two out of those three people have quit a job at some point in their career because they didn't see a path ahead for them in terms of opportunities, in terms of career development. And so offering something there allows you to serve that need that all of your people have.

What's interesting in the research, we've seen those two people who have quit the job, after they've done that once, they place a higher burden of responsibility on us, as HR leaders, on their own manager, and on themselves to make sure it doesn't happen again. Again, people don't make those kind of changes just on a whim. They do that because they're seeking something and they're hoping someone will recognize that and respond to it appropriately instead of making them feel like there's no other choice but to take a job somewhere else. And last but not least, communication, clarity, making sure that people understand what's going on and giving them some say-so in how they get information from us as an employer. We saw in the data that 6 out of 10 employees, for example, say they do not get any sort of inputs from their leaders on the skills that are important for their job and for the next job they wanna have in the company.

If we are not telling them what matters, what skills to be developing, what competencies we need them to have, how do we expect them to ever achieve any sort of results? When we do the performance review at the end of the year, we don't say, well, we didn't tell you what was important, but still we'll give you a free pass. No, it's we're gonna hold you accountable even if we didn't tell you those things. So giving people some insight into those things, and one last fun one actually is giving people a chance and opportunity to elevate ideas because the data show and their lots of evidence to back up the idea that the people closest to the work getting done have more ideas for innovation than the people who are in a far-removed corner office, right?

Don't ask me or one of you to say how operations can speed up their efficiency or anything. That's not the world we live in. But if you ask someone who's on a shop floor or if you ask a nurse, how can this patient check-in be faster and easier? Let them suggest and bring ideas to the table. That is a form of flexibility. And people like having a voice, even if it's just to suggest a small improvement or a change. So, goodness, I talked for a long time, Maribeth, but there's so many ways we can do this. And I have a passion for this because for a long time, the only conversation around flexibility has been where I'm gonna work. And I want everybody listening in, if you've pulled that lever already, look at some of these others. If that's not an option for you as Maribeth was saying earlier in healthcare and other spaces like that, look at these things as opportunities for you to give something back to your people. Many of them don't cost anything, but the rewards can be incredible.


Maribeth: Absolutely, Ben. And I believe we need to move from the Great Resignation to the great recognition and just truly spend our time recognizing our employees in every way we can and recognizing each other. We all are looking for connections. We're looking to be recognized and to say, "Hey, great job." I love everything that you just said because I think it's so important that regardless of where a person resides in an organization, that they feel that they have a voice. I've always said, let everyone else be the hero. Let somebody else be that hero. It's also interesting because in these conversations I've had in healthcare with, some CHROs from some of the top healthcare companies, one of the thoughts was like for nurses, what if they could figure out those parts of their jobs that they could take home and do, like the paperwork? Part of their day is administrative, could they figure out a way to do that differently?

So I think, a lot of it is also just being open to let's do new ways and different ways and ways that... And ask the person who's doing it how could they do this differently. And they may have an answer that you or I would've never thought of. So great, great points. So let's pause for a minute and ask the audience a question. As HR professionals, what's your main talent challenge in 2022? And please select all that apply, or if you don't select any, that means you've got this all worked out, and we're gonna ask you to come speak to us next time.


Ben: We will promote you immediately to join us on this.


Maribeth: Exactly. I also have to say, as you guys are answering this question, how I'm just really amazed at the questions that are coming in. And I'm not a good multitasker, so I'm kind of quickly looking at them, but the one thing I keep kind of seeing over and over and, Ben, maybe we can talk a little bit about it towards the end is the how. These are great ideas, great thoughts, but the how. Do I get my manager? How do I get my HR organization? I saw one, I'd love to do this, but our HR policies won't allow it, so more to that how. So we'll see if we can address some of that towards the end.


Ben: For sure. Sounds good.


Maribeth: Let's look at what you believe the main talent challenges are in 2022. Wow. Retention, recruiting, and talent development,


Ben: Neck and neck for recruiting or retention there.


Maribeth: Neck and neck. Yeah. Yeah.


Ben: One of my favorite sayings these days, Maribeth, is that the easiest job to recruit for is the one where you don't lose the person in the first place because we retain them through some smarter offering, some way of connecting with them, getting their manager recognize them, whatever it takes there, but that's the easiest job to recruit for is the one we don't lose someone in the first place.


Maribeth: Exactly. And I remember, Ben, years ago, somebody somewhere in the HR organization in the company I was with saying, "We need to do exit interviews." And somebody else saying, "Why don't we do stay interviews?" And I'm like, "Well, that's a great idea." Let's focus on why people are staying and enhance that. Again, kind of the great recognition versus the great resignation, but yeah. Okay. So wow. Retention and recruiting, neck and neck. And talent development right up there too at 40%.


Ben: All right. Now we're gonna flip the script a little bit. I'm gonna ask you some questions if you're cool with that, Maribeth. I get to throw them back your way, and you asked me all the hard ones earlier, so you just have the easy ones now if that's okay with you.


Maribeth: Great. I like the easy ones.


Ben: Yeah. So when you're talking to the companies that Bright Horizons is serving out there in the world, and again, our HR brethren here who are listening in today, when you're talking about what matters most for the millennial employees at their organizations, what are you hearing from them about how they're solving for that, how they're addressing the things that that population needs?


Maribeth: Yeah. That's a great question. And let me just step for a minute, give a little background on Bright Horizons. So we support most of the major large global companies today, and it's every industry, from healthcare to high tech to retail. 35 years ago, husband and wife decided if working, well, basically, it was working mothers, could bring their children into the workplace with them, what a difference they would be as an employee. How they'd be able to focus on what they were doing and their child's right down. Fast forward, it then became about working parents. And now two years, let's hope it's post-pandemic, it's about how do we provide child care support, whether somebody is at home or whether they're going into the office. And so I think the first thing, Ben, that I hear a lot about is family supports.

How do we help working parents? And again, if we think of millennials in that, what is it, 20 to 39-year age group, somewhere roughly in there, these are a lot of our working parents. And how do we help you with four children? How do you work with four children around you? It's quite a feat. And so how can we lean in and help working parents? So a new client for us this year, Major League Baseball. So they came to us and said, we need to help our employees care for their children. And think about Major League Baseball. There are varying hours to their day. So they really started a back-up care, and back-up care allowing their employees to have care. Now we also support....we do support the NFL. We also support the PGA, but these are, again, places where children need care while their parents work.

Another was a company called Podium. They are a smaller company but they started an on-site child care center last summer. There was another recursion, a company in Utah did the same thing realizing that...they are basically researchers and the only way they were gonna get their employees to come into work because they needed to be in the labs was to provide support for them. So again, companies like Mass General, same thing. Mass General is a huge hospital in the Boston area where that's where our headquarters are. They saw the same things and they needed 24/7 because you've got doctors and nurses working all hours of the day. So how do you provide care for their children? And so if you think about these companies, they're thinking outside the box and they're saying, "What are we going to do to support our working parents?"

The other thing, and this is a new one, I think, for HR, is career pathways. I think we've always done talent development, or helping employees with their career paths, but this is really defining and really helping employees realize that if you are here in this program today, here's how you get to the next. And also, how do you do that not upwards, but how do you do that on a lattice? If you are here doing this job in HR today but you'd love to be in IT, what are the skills and resources you need to be able to do that? Also, I think, Ben, we're looking at more, people, it's not so much about the role anymore, it's about the skills. And do you have the...if you have the skills to do this job, you probably have the skills to also do this, this, this, and this job and how do we help employees do that?

That's really exciting, to me, because I've always been somebody who believes in helping people develop their talents and also helping people find their dream job. The job you truly, love and are naturally good at because you're probably gonna be really successful in that. And so how do we help employees do that? And again, going back to the millennials, I think they're really looking for that. They're really looking for that kind of direction, especially when we think about the fact that what did, say 6 out of 10 jobs that will exist in a few years, we don't even know exists today. Ten years ago, if somebody said they're gonna be a data scientist, you would've said, "What in the world is that?" So the workplace is changing. Jobs are being created every day and we have to really help and scale people to do that.


Ben: Thinking about the...we always use the metaphor that HR is like the parent at work, the teacher at work, the babysitter at work. But I think a better fit is we are like on the level of a UN mediator or a negotiator trying to get these countries to work together and all these different variables and all the facets and things. Don't downplay your skills out there, people, as you hear from Maribeth, like all those skills you have, are transferable in other areas, but stay here, be great in HR. We love you, but help your people move around if you'd like to because that's, as we saw earlier, Maribeth, the big priority is recruiting and that's a huge lever for that, but it's also for retention too, right? So goodness gracious, so exciting. Yeah, go ahead.


Maribeth: One of the things, Ben, that we started is it's called our Horizons program, and we offer a free, no out-of-pocket cost at all. We pay your books, your admission, everything, to people who wanna be a teacher in early education. And so you join Bright Horizons and we first have a fast track program that helps you do all those courses that I remember going, "Am I ever really gonna use this?" So it helps you with the courses and then really get you onto the early education track. And again, bachelor's degree, no cost. And you do it while you're working. And we support you while you're doing that. Those are the kinds of things that employers are going to need to do to really retain. And we all just saw that on the last poll, it's about retaining, attracting and retaining talent.


Ben: Oh my goodness. All right. So one last question for you and I think we're gonna take some Q&A from the audience because there are more questions coming in than I can even keep up with scrolling through there. The last question I'm gonna ask you is because you and I went back and forth on a couple of different facets to this. Let's go to the frontline piece if you don't mind, I'd love to hear you talk about some examples and things there. Talk about some of the frontline aspects of this and how these solutions can fit that group and their unique needs because you mentioned like Mass General, as an example, a minute ago on this, right?


Maribeth: Right. Yeah. So Mass General, by providing this on-site child care and back-up, they are a lot allowing their employees to be able to work differently and their frontline employees as well. Where they may have had to before not come in because of child care needs, they're now looking at that differently. The other thing, Ben, I think employers are also looking at ways to help school-age parents, with things like tutoring, with things like a program we have, sitter city. As schools are kind of in school and out of school over the past two years, how do we support working parents with those needs? We also have, camps that children can go to. So it's anything that says to employees, we're here to help you with these care needs that you have.

Eldercare is another one, and becoming more and more prevalent as people are saying, I have parents or, elder family members I have to care for and can't come to work. So how do we provide back-up care to them too so that they can have the time to come into work? One of the other things we're doing is really taking a focus on the healthcare industry right now and really helping healthcare define these career pathways to help their employees create career paths, that retain them and give them focus and allow them to continue. Let's say they start as administrator in the call center at a hospital. What's that career path to being a clinician, or what's that career path to nursing? And helping them do that in a seamless way.


Ben: Yes. I love that. I always say, if you don't show them a career path like you're talking about there Maribeth, then someone else will paint that picture for them when they call them with another job opportunity. So it's up to us to be able to do that the right way, right?


Maribeth: Yeah. And, Ben, years ago that was really held in the business. Throughout my career, and I've worked for some really large companies, that kind of specific tactical training was really held within business if they needed IT training, this or that. Today, I think companies are looking now to HR to be the drivers of that. And I think really helping to create those, not just here's a class in coding, but here's a path you can take if you become a coder that will allow you to advance to the next degree. Those are the conversations that need to be taking place. We do have a ton of questions. So I do think we should move. I think the last one I saw was like the 78th question. That's wonderful that there is so much enthusiasm and interest in this topic. Either that or Ben and I didn't give you any information and answer anything, but I hope that's not the case. So, Mike, we're gonna turn it over to Q&As from the audience now.


Mike: Great. Thank you. We are gonna get to as many of those questions as we can here in just a moment. This webcast is sponsored by Bright Horizons. Bright Horizons is the leading global education and care company. It partners with employers to provide exceptional early learning, family care, and workforce education solutions that transform lives and organizations. Bright Horizons addresses the biggest obstacles to performance while supporting working families at every life stage with customizable solutions. Learn more at brighthorizons.com/at-work. And before we start our audience questions, here's information on the PDC you've earned today towards SHRM-CP and SCP re-certification from the Society for Human Resource Management. You could claim your credit with this number 22-S2KJ. That's 22-S2KJ the letter S. We do wanna remind you, regardless of what kind of recertification credit you plan to claim, it's important that you keep track of all the SHERM webcasts you're thinking of claiming. We can't go into our system and create a transcript of your programs, you need to keep a reliable record on your end. Let's turn to the questions that are pouring in. And we'll start with this one. Our audience member asks, "How do you ensure your benefits offering supports all employee groups? Knowing that employees have diverse needs, how do you prioritize which benefits to offer?"


Maribeth: Yes, that's a great question. I'll start with that, Ben, and then if you wanna add in. So look, there are certain basic benefits that we've always offered, medical, dental, life insurance, etc. I think it's asking your employees, what do they need? It's also, we look at the personas of our employees. What are the age groups? What are the geographical locations? What are their family makeups? What do we do to best adhere and address those? Also, ask the employees there are so many easy ways to survey, there are so many easy ways to find out what they need. And also look, we're never gonna meet the needs of everyone, that's HR 101, but we sure can aim at the majority. And I also think, again it's looking at who your employees are. If you listen, they will to tell you.


Ben: The only thing I'd add to that is, as you said, we can't solve all problems, but look for those high-lever opportunities where if you have 60% of people asking for something and you can make one change to adjust and meet the needs of that big population, that's not a bad move. Obviously, listening is a big part of the conversation today and trying to understand what those nuances are. But yeah, anyway, that's a good starting point, asking, listening, looking for opportunities to do that. Don't try to solve all things at once because then you'll burn yourself out, which will lead to nothing good. So try to make those key moves and use a good business case to back that up. So it's not just you trying to hammer away at your leadership team always trying to sell these ideas, but bringing them this is the cost of turning over one of these employees, just one of them. And we lost 10 of them last year. And they're asking for this thing, can we please give this a shot because even if we kept half of them, it would've saved us X thousands of dollars. That's a powerful conversation to have versus just nobody to offer benefits. So excellent.


Mike: Tim with some questions about benefits, "Have you found in your research that one of the benefits millennials are looking for is child care?"


Maribeth: We have found that. We have found that working parents need child care and need child care support. And I don't know what the statistic is, but it is high that working parents...and look, we've also seen working mothers have left the workforce in large numbers over the past two years because they don't have the support they need. And so those that have had child care offered to them, there is a higher incident of them staying in the workplace.


Ben: I'll throw in there to add to that is we did a study on people taking time off last year. And one of the things we found was that women were more likely than men to say, I'm worried about taking time off from work. It could be to care for children or other things, but they said, I'm worried about that more often than men because I'm worried about what my boss will think of me. I'm worried about my job security, things like that. So some of those aren't spoken, some of those aren't outright and overt, but they're still picking up on some cue that says you may be at risk. And so if we can do something from our perspective or make sure our managers are conveying that there's not a risk to you to do this, you're caring for your kids, they're first. We want you to take care of them because if you take care of them, then you can be your best self here instead of being concerned and worried about what's going on on that side of your life, which is the other flip side of the work-life coin. So just an encouragement there that the way that we are conveying some of those things and what our values are as an organization, do fit into this picture.


Maribeth: Yeah. And it's interesting, this company in Utah that put a child care center, it's a smaller company too. Put a child care center in last summer, I presented with the CHRO, and somebody asked the question and said, "Well, what did your non-parents think?", employees who are not parents, how did they feel about the company spending that kind of money on child care? And she said, it really was a huge culture boost for us because our other employees saw how we were really reaching and leaning in to really help children and to really help our community through that, and more importantly, really help all of our employees through that. So I think we have seen before COVID, I think we spent a lot of our time talking to employers about why they should do this. I think now life and work have gotten integrated together, people are now coming to us saying, "How do I do this?" Because I get it, it's really important.


Mike: Continuing with the questions from the audience. How can you meet the needs of millennials if you have a traditional business, that is one that emphasize on-site and in person? Most seem to want a remote job or to be able to work from home. What perks can you offer if that just can't happen?


Maribeth: Yeah. I think, Ben, that goes to the slide you shared about what flexibility really means. And if it is an industry or company where you just cannot provide, any kind of remote work, I think then the question is, what do your employees need? How are they gonna feel good about coming in every day? How can you provide them with autonomy? Are there different ways you could provide other kinds of means of flexible work and not be totally remote? And I think it's listening to employees. I remember years ago, job shares, people who would share a job with somebody else because they couldn't do it full-time. And so, you found two people who could do it part-time and it became a full-time resource. So I think it's getting really creative like that. And again, asking what do they need.


Ben: I would agree with that, thinking about this...the reason this came to mind, again, it was on my heart for a long time that whenever I brought up a conversation, and if all of us listening right now we're standing around together, and I said, what, when you went remote, well, if you didn't, suddenly, I saw in the eyes of people I was sitting with their eyes shut down. They just kinda sit back, arms crossed, wait to draw back into the conversation because that doesn't apply to me. And I kept seeing that happen over and over again where people said, no, we're divided, we're in a different camp. We're still showing up at the office. We're still showing up at the job site, the retail store, the manufacturing, the healthcare, education, all these things. We're still showing up every day. And that's the reason we started doing some of this research on flexibility and we're gonna continue to because we really wanted to understand and support how you train people, how you communicate, how you allow them to raise ideas, how you allow them some say-so and the flexibility of the work that they get done every single day.

And just a quick...I saw several questions come in around the research just asking about some of our data. The study that I've referenced a couple of times around the great reprioritization was a survey of 1,000 North American workers. So this wasn't pinging a couple of buddies at the bar. This was 1,000 North American workers working full-time that statistically represents the workforce at any one of your companies. And so this gives us a really clear picture into what they're thinking and feeling. And so it gives me some confidence using that data to step into some of these different practical ideas on how to help you get better at what you're working on here.


Maribeth: Yeah. I also really believe that work is just going to be defined very differently. You know, 8 to 5, like, that's so old. That was from old manufacturing and I really hope and think that work will be defined differently and people will get their job done or get their work done where and when they need to get their work done. And that's how we'll measure productivity.


Mike: I think we have time for one more question. A couple of folks have asked questions along this line. How can employers encourage their employees to voice their ideas? I feel many employees are uncomfortable making suggestions.


Maribeth: Yeah. So I'll tell you, our engagement survey is a big tool for us and it is confidential. We do ask for employee ID number so that we can measure things like, personas of our employee base, but it is confidential. And we'll ask the hard questions and we'll ask the questions that sometimes we're nervous about the answer, but we have to ask, we need to know. Like, do you want to come back? Of course, we want everybody to say yes, we can't wait, but we need to be ready to hear the answer and we need to be ready to respond to it. I think that's our number one way is we do poll surveys. We just do them randomly out to different populations at different times, but that's been a way for us really to collect information from our employees.

Also creating a culture where employees will say what they need to say. We just had our senior leadership meeting a couple of weeks ago and I was surprised at some of the questions our employees asked our CEO. Twenty years ago, you would've never. That question could have been a career-limiting move, but guess what? He creates an environment in which people can ask those questions and he boldly and honestly and transparently answers them. And that's the culture you want to create.

About the Speakers

Maribeth Bearfield at Bright Horizons

Maribeth Bearfield joined Bright Horizons in 2017 as SVP, HR and Chief Human Resources Officer. Maribeth brings a background as an educator and more than 25 years of human resources experience to her writing. Prior to joining Bright Horizons, Maribeth served as CHRO at Kaseya Corporation and Hanover Insurance, and as Chief Talent Officer at State Street. Maribeth has also held positions at Cisco Systems, Oracle and GTE.

Ben Eubanks - Guest Speaker

Ben Eubanks is the Chief Research Officer at Lighthouse Research & Advisory. In this role, he works with HR, talent and learning leaders across the globe to solve their most pressing business challenges with a research-based perspective tempered by practical, hands-on experience.