Engaging the New Workforce with Digital Signs

EPISODE 25 | Guest: Debbie DeWitt, marketing communications manager for Visix

The pace of technology has created a true generation gap. What’s being called the “new workforce”, currently mainly made up of millennials, have very different priorities and expectations than previous generations. They care about quality of life both inside and outside work, and want more transparency, collaboration and community.

Our podcast walks through why it’s important to understand and engage the new workforce. We step through nine of the priorities that you can address using your digital signs to engage millennials and future generations.

  • Get stats that prove it’s vital for an organization to keep millennials engaged
  • Learn what motivates millennials stay with an organization longer
  • Consider nine key priorities for this generation that need to be part of your culture
  • Explore flexibility, collaboration, transparency, professional development, perks and more
  • Discover tips on how to apply modern employees’ priorities to digital signage strategies

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Learn more about this topic in our Masterclass Guide 2: Digital Signage Communications Planning

Derek DeWitt: Priorities for modern workers are really, really very different than those of the past. I know, every 20 years or so, each generation talks about how things are different, and things were better when I was younger and so on. But we’re really seeing a major shift in the whole way that modern [employees]… (millennials, let’s be honest, is mainly what we’re talking about) approach work, work-life balance and so on and so forth.

I’m here with Debbie DeWitt, marketing communications manager for Visix. Hello, Deb.

Debbie DeWitt: Hello, Derek.

Derek DeWitt: And I’d like to thank you for coming on, Deb, and I’d like to thank everybody for listening. We’re going to talk about the modern workforce and how it applies to digital signage.

Derek DeWitt: So, the times they are a-changing. Visix has a nice, handy infographic, 13 Facts about Millennials in the Workplace, covering just some of these very quickly. So, millennials will leave a job much more readily than, say, previous generations, even though economic times feel like maybe they’re not as solid. Maybe we’re not on such solid economic ground as we were in the past. But the fact that they’re willing to jump ship so quickly, and it costs over $30 billion annually to the US.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, this is probably, if not now, within the next five years certainly, this will be the bulk of your employees. If it’s not corporate, it’s government employees; doesn’t matter what business you’re in, but millennials are the ones you’re going to have to address and you’re going to have to engage.

And, like you said, communicating with them is vastly different than before. And they are a more mobile workforce because they care more about more than money. They really want to be engaged. They really want to know what’s going on. And so you have to reach out to them in a different way.

Derek DeWitt: It’s interesting, the things that motivate them. I mean, in the past it was just money, opportunity for advancement, things like this. Engagement, which is a buzz word that’s used an awful lot in modern communications, but it really makes a difference. Millennials who are engaged are 64% less likely to switch jobs in the next year, the next 12 months.

So, they’re willing to stick around longer if they care about the place and they feel like they’re a part of it or they’re engaged in some way. The sad thing is that only like 29, 30% of them are engaged at work, Over half are not engaged and something like 16 or 17% are actively disengaged (which means that they just loath going to work, you know?)

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. I mean, some studies have shown, whether they’re millennials or not, that basically like at least a third of employees aren’t engaged at work.

Derek DeWitt: At all.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. They’re saying, “I’m not engaged.” And so this is, it’s been talked about a lot. The last probably three to five years, you’ve seen a lot of sort of forward-thinking organizations pick up on this, but it’s still really working to trickle down to all employers, to make this a part of every single day and the way they think about employee communications.

Derek DeWitt: Right. And a lot of it is, it’s funny that they find that money is, especially for this younger generation, even though I’ve read articles saying that they’re the poorest generation yet; you know, they really are the first ones to not have, necessarily, an across-the-board a higher standard of living than their parents.

Debbie DeWitt: As a whole.

Derek DeWitt: As a whole, as a whole. You have housing and all these other issues. It’s these intangibles that are actually the things that are much more important to them. Like recognition, over a quarter of them say that that’s what motivates them to be their best at work. Flexibility: well over half of millennials say having flexibility (which means I can come in at different times, I can work from home sometimes), this actually makes them more productive. About half say it makes them happier. And about 20% of millennials say flexibility is the single most important benefit a workplace can offer them. Which is quite interesting.

Debbie DeWitt: Right. Well, and if they’re happier, they’re more productive. I mean, that’s studies for decades.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. Obviously professional development is very important. If they’re young, they’re trying to gather more skills, improve their lives and, eventually when they have families, their families’ lives. I mean, something like 85, 87% of millennials say growth opportunities and professional development opportunities (training and so on) is something that’s very, very important to them.

But they also like collaboration. Thirty percent of them want to have collaborative workspaces in the workplace. Over half, around half of millennials say social tools being used for workplace collaboration are very important for them. And so it’s very interesting. You have a group of people, 75% of them say they want to work from home at least once or twice, and they’re more productive there. And not many of them are actually allowed to do this. So you have all of these factors that are new now.

Debbie DeWitt: We’ve certainly instigated that, even at Visix. Almost every employee works at least one day from home. We’ve seen just morale go way up. I mean, the fact is the old days of not trusting your employees, unless they punch a clock, you know, actually punch a time ticket or whatever, they’re just over.

You give people a job to do, they do it, they do it well. And if you trust them and give them the freedom and have the right people in place, there’s no reason that flexibility can’t… and collaborative tools, all these things are a part of the new workplace.

Derek DeWitt: So, when you read articles about this, business publications and so on, the term that’s being bandied about is the “New Workforce”. And it really is in many ways a new workforce.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s not just millennials. We also have new generations coming up behind them. But also, obviously, anyone who might be older than a millennial is still impacted by this new workforce and the new environments that we’re creating.

Derek DeWitt: Right. It’s going to change the whole atmosphere. So, yeah. Gen-Xers out there, don’t resist the change, embrace the change. Because these are the people who are up and coming and making the company work.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, yeah, exactly. You know, for the purposes of… you’re tuned in for digital signage. Basically, what this means is these new priorities have to be addressed in your communications. And this is true for all communications. I don’t care if you have an intranet or you’re doing emails or an internal newsletter; even if it’s external, you still should appeal to these types of things. If your industry is dealing with workers, they all have these priorities.

So you can really tap into this because, you know, as we harp on this constantly, you have to show something people care about. You really need to tailor your digital signage messages, you know, hit these priorities. So, I’ve come up with nine different priorities that we’re seeing in this new workforce that we can talk about.

Derek DeWitt: Okay, well, let’s go over these one at a time. So, first one here is individualism.

Debbie DeWitt:  Individualism is basically, when it comes to digital signage, certainly touchscreens are where this is a big part of this, because you want to make people feel like that message or that experience is just for them, that they’re finding a sense of discovery, they make a personal connection to it.

A lot of this has to do with the web, but mainly smartphones and things. You know, there are other studies that show that no one uses a website the same way as someone else. No one uses an app or a smartphone in the same way. And so, individualism is really about letting someone search for and access information in their own way. And I realize if you’ve got a sign on the wall that’s just showing a playlist, that’s hard to do. But the call to action can play into that. Let them then go out to a website where they can search for more information in their own way.

Derek DeWitt: When they feel like it.

Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. And this is very important with, like, interactivity. If you’re using a touchscreen, the way you navigate is different than anyone else. The different levels of information you can put on there, so people have. One person’s very interested in just getting from here to there, so it’s wayfinding. But another person is very interested in, say, the history of your college. And so you can have that. So it offers different levels of discovery, and there’s actually a feeling of accomplishment because you’ve navigated that in your own in your own way.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, that’s true. But you know, and this ties into this whole notion of giving communications audiences a more consumer-like experience, this is how they’re interacting with information on a daily, hourly basis, you know? And I think social media is an element in this, too. And social media is, like everybody uses it individually, but it’s used to connect to other people. And you know, a lot of the time you see people staring at their phones, you just kind of think, “What are they doing?”

Debbie DeWitt: And then you stare at your phone.

Derek DeWitt: And then you stare at your phone to see what they’re doing. But, very often it’s because they’ve just posted something and they are waiting for reactions, or likes or something like that, you know?

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the basics of this is that one-size-fits-all, push communications, they’re just not appreciated anymore.

Derek DeWitt: Number two: impact.

Debbie DeWitt: This is really about impact on the world, on the community, on the business, on their department, on their team. It can be various levels, various circles, if you think about it, going out from that individual. They want to know their impact on what’s happening. So, when it comes to digital signs, you’re going to want to, obviously, let them know what’s going on in their community.

As far as the world, it’s not just news, it’s, you know, if you’re doing a recycling, that is a very broad topic, and it’s affecting the world, and so people want to know about that. You can just basically reinforce the fact that we know that you are not in that cube, in a bubble. We all know that we’re part of something greater. And as I said, it can be anything from team to department to building to campus to state to, you know, to city, to state, to country, to the world.

Derek DeWitt: Continental!

Debbie DeWitt: To the universe! Exactly. I mean, it’s basically just… understand that everybody has a life outside of work, so appeal to it.

Derek DeWitt: Right, and I’d also say maybe it’s even maybe, when possible, and I know we’re always saying try and keep the amount of text and things that you put on in a particular digital signage message low.

Debbie DeWitt: Yes, please.

Derek DeWitt: Like 20, 25 characters, the three by five rule and so on. However, you can create a message that then has a follow-up message. I even see this happening now with news tickers on CNN and stuff. It used to be just a headline and then a second, different story. Now they’re actually telling five or six sentences in a row, one sentence at a time through the ticker, so it’s actually becoming a campaign, in many ways. It’s becoming this particular way of communicating.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. I was just going to say that’s something we talk about a lot is don’t feel like you’ve got one ten-second message to get everything across. Do a campaign, tell a story. You know, do a video series, do six different messages that all follow up on the same theme. Create a through character or even a design style that carries it through. But yeah, I think that especially, as we’re talking about it, some of these can be very big topics. So, think bigger than just a single PowerPoint slide.

Derek DeWitt: And feel free to give that little bit of extra information. So, like you said with say a recycling program, “Oh, we’re recycling; it’s good.” Well, that’s pretty vague. What is the actual impact? How much are you saving? Figure it out. Have somebody figure out how it alters your carbon footprint and turn that into something like “We’ve just saved this many trees,” which is perhaps a little bit disingenuous and yet statistically, it’s kind of true. And that gives a context for people, a real-world context for people to go, “I assisted today in saving 15 trees. I’m a good person.”

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. I mean we talk about KPIs a lot. And KPIs don’t always have to be, “Did we sell what we wanted to sell, you know, as much as we wanted to sell?” It doesn’t have to be always business related. It can certainly be green initiatives. “We’ve recycled this many pounds.” It can even be, “We’ve contributed this much to charities this year.” You know, again, kind of trying to just show employees that their impact on the world, and the organization’s impact on the world, is important to you.

Derek DeWitt: And we’re moving forward. Okay, next step. We have morale. Happy workers are just better. They just do better work.

Debbie DeWitt: They [do]. I mean, I’m not going to go into a ton of stats here, but anybody can look up on online that there are all of these [articles and studies saying] that happy employees are more productive. It actually leads to your bottom line. It leads to less turnover. All of these things.

Derek DeWitt: Well, what we said before, flexibility, collaboration, opportunities for advancement, training, growth, learning new skills; these are very important.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the day of the paycheck as the only thing that matters is just over. People want to be encouraged and recognized in different ways. Morale can be as simple as having a food truck come in, you know, once a week. It doesn’t always have to be, “Hey, you did this, so we’re going to give you this.” You can also just, you know, build morale constantly.

This is probably the top priority for human resources professionals around the world is “How do we keep our people happy? How do we keep morale up?” And there are a lot of different ways to do that. I’m not going to go into what HR professionals need to do, but…

Derek DeWitt: That’s a different podcast series.

Debbie DeWitt: But anything you’re doing on that front, put it on your signs. Show the successes, ask for suggestions, you know, and really…

Derek DeWitt: More than just casual Fridays.

Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. But also, all of these tie in together. We’re going to keep overlapping as we talk about these nine things. But again, like, morale is also understanding they have a life outside of work. Do you have a bunch of people who love wine? You know, put up wine club announcements or something.

Derek DeWitt: “This just got Wine Spectator Wine of the Year.” Interesting.

Debbie DeWitt: Right. Find out what makes your people happy and advertise that. I mean, it’s really that simple.

Derek DeWitt: What about flexibility? We’ve talked a lot about flexibility. I mean, desks ain’t cheap man. I think, what’s the average cost of a desk? Something like $10,000?

Debbie DeWitt: $10,000 a year, but that’s an old stat. You know, as prices go up, it’s is probably more now. It also depends on technology. You know, how tech-heavy that desk needs to be for the person to do their job. But yeah, flex-time. I remember when this was a crazy idea. Quite frankly, there was an old movie, for those of you who are much younger than me, called 9 to 5, where this was introduced. And this is a movie from, I think it’s early 80s or something.

Derek DeWitt: Might even be late 70s, yeah. {Note: It was released in 1980.}

Debbie DeWitt: But it’s like everybody looked at that and said, “Oh wow, what a utopia. Wouldn’t that be great if…?” And it’s now the norm. Like I said, we do it here at Visix. People are used to being more flexible.

Also, you know, people are more mobile. Travel is cheaper. You do have more people traveling for work, and so you’ve got a mobile workforce (whether it’s just working from home one day or whether they’re on the road). So that’s something to think about. As you said, millennials are very focused on this. So, it’s not so much like advertise, you know, flexibility. But certainly keeping people abreast of the fact that you support that, that you do offer hot-desking or office hoteling, whatever. If you’ve got, you know, a schedule of people who are working from home; well, let everybody else know that.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, you guys have this here in your main room here at Visix. An out-of-office interactive screen element you tap, and it shows everybody who’s out of office today.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. And I mean, it doesn’t mean you’re out of touch. It just means I’m working from home, you know. But flexibility, like every other benefit, I will say you want to advertise those. I mean, everybody knows the benefits package is huge. And flexibility is now becoming an expected benefit at work. It’s like, “I need health insurance, I also need flexibility.”

Derek DeWitt: “Of course I have flexibility! What are you, crazy?”

Debbie DeWitt: You know, people have children. I need to be able to alter my schedule if need be. So, it’s flextime, it’s flex-hours, flex-days. But it’s also, like you said, it’s…. Leading into the next one actually is collaboration. You can combine these two, because really that flexibility also leads into technology that allows you to collaborate with people, whether you’re here or not.

Derek DeWitt: I think both of these show that management has a certain amount of trust. “We trust that you’re not going to screw around and then bill us for it. We trust that if we get out of the collaborative process; we give you a task and a goal, you’ll reach a consensus together somehow.”

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, exactly. And our fifth point of collaboration, a lot of people are like, “If I’m going to reach that goal, I want to work with others.” You know, it’s no longer the data entry person who’s just, you know, “Okay, I have to get through these 60 lines or whatever today.” People want to collaborate. And you can do that in a lot of different ways. And you show that on your screens by really promoting collaboration.

Again through KPIs, showing team progress, showing team accomplishments, but also it can be as simple as making suggestions for like… One of the great innovations in the last few years is the five-minute stand-up meeting. You know, it’s sort of like newspaper offices do this, you know? It’s small meetings throughout the day, checking in with the team saying, “What are we doing? Do you need help? Where are we at? Everybody good?” kind of thing. Instead of getting in a room once a week for an hour and having everybody sluggish and sitting around. It’s more energetic and you can bring more people in or fewer people in as you need. You can invite other departments, cross-department things. So, collaboration is extremely important to this workforce. I think part of it is that, like you were bringing up social media, it’s collaborative.

Derek DeWitt: Even the BBC, about half of most articles is simply reporting “There was a tweet. Here’s that tweet.”

Debbie DeWitt: Or you see on every news story, something happened in Norcross, “Are you in Norcross? Tell us about it.” You know, so we’re crowdsourcing so much today. And crowdsourcing is collaborative.

Derek DeWitt: Well, crowdsourcing news in certain events, too. What we saw in Egypt a few years ago and other things like this. There are no reporters on the ground, but there are hundreds of people with smartphones on the ground seeing what’s happening, tweeting it. That’s how the outside world is finding out that it’s happening.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. It’s all… collaboration and crowdsourcing go hand in hand. And, as far as on your digital signs, basically, you know, encourage collaboration, advertise opportunities for collaboration and recognize collaboration. Those are three things that you may not have thought of putting up.

Derek DeWitt: And it creates a sense of community. And you know, there’s an interesting statistic from the Economist Intelligence Unit a few years ago, 54% of employees of all age groups said that a strong sense of community at work kept them at a company longer than it was in their best interest. They knew that they weren’t going to advance. They knew that the salary was too low (they just had another baby).

Debbie DeWitt: But they loved it and the people they work with.

Derek DeWitt: But they just loved being there. They felt like they were part of something. And it just, it just made them stay longer.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. That’s a strong stat. Because again, you want your employees to be happy, so they stay with you.

Derek DeWitt: And I think an element of that, too, is adaptability. Like, the organization needs to be a little bit adaptable, too. You can’t just pay lip service to collaboration and flexibility and things like that.

Debbie DeWitt: Oh, yeah, I think that’s true.

Derek DeWitt: “No, we take your opinions on board!” And then you’re done.

Debbie DeWitt: That’s true of everything. That’s communications 101, is don’t communicate something and not follow up on it. Stand by it. You have to do that. And actually, that leads into our next point. Thank you very much, Derek. Which is transparency.

Derek DeWitt: Yes!

Debbie DeWitt: Again, we’ve talked about this a little bit. We have another podcast about different generations, and we talked about this being something that’s come in. And it’s basically, it’s not new; now it’s the norm.

We expect transparency from the employer, the organization, the government office, wherever, the hospital, whoever your employer is, you expect to know what their goals are, what’s their mission, what are they trying to do, what KPIs have they set for themselves, and then you expect them to tell you how are we doing against that? You know, people really, they really want to know. Again, this goes into that sort of being part of something bigger. They feel like, “I need to know how I impact it, but I also wanted to make sure you guys are following up on what you’ve told me.”

Derek DeWitt: Right? And I’ll say, it’s interesting, in the States, if you look at statistics on things like, “Hey, do you know your company’s core values?” and things like this. Outside of the United States, it’s higher. But in the US, it’s less than 50% of people even know, over half of American workers, when asked, “What’s the purpose of your company?” they say “To make money.” Like, that’s it.

Debbie DeWitt: That’s shocking.

Derek DeWitt: That’s the only thing that’s in their head. They don’t know. Outside, like in Europe, it’s something like 60% know that there’s some thing…. I haven’t seen any statistics on how many people believe those key values. They might think it’s just paying lip service. But this is important.

Debbie DeWitt: I do take exception with that. I don’t think, when a company goes through the process, we’ve written a mission statement and values, and we look at it every year. It is not just handing a copywriter an assignment. It is a process you go through.

Derek DeWitt: “Think of something to say!”

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, and I believe that companies go through this for a purpose, because “to make money” is no one’s mission statement. (There’s someone, somewhere, I’m sure.) But, especially at the level, and I’ll just say it, if you’re going to have digital signs, you’re probably 50 employers or more, you know, employees are more, so if you’ve gone through that mission statement, you can make money a lot of different ways. You’ve chosen to do it this way. I don’t think it’s lip service. And that’s the thing is that, and that’s why we have seen a shift in why transparency’s important. We talked about this before. I don’t know if it was Boomers or Gen-Xers who first said, “Be transparent.”

Derek DeWitt: That was the Boomers. Boomers said, “We want to peek behind the curtain because, we were warned in our youth about this industrial military complex, and now we see this. And now we’re going to Vietnam…” And you know, this was a whole thing, and “We’re not being consulted, and we think you’re lying to us.” And it’s interesting, a lot of this is about trust. There are these new stats. There was a recent stat saying that employees don’t, 76% of employees don’t trust managers who won’t share data, who just go, “Yeah, just trust me.”

Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. Exactly. And it’s like, and here’s the thing, that’s true. Number one, you want your employees to trust you. But even if you feel like we’ve got trust, you know, we listen, we give information and all that, or we don’t need to because our employees trust us.

Derek DeWitt: Or you should just do what you’re told.

Debbie DeWitt: Maybe you’re a small company and… well, no, but I’m thinking even if they do trust you, it’s also being part of a whole. So even if you say, “Well, I don’t know that we need to show our quarterly financials because our people trust us.” Even if they do trust you, they still want to be part of something. So go ahead and show it anyway.

Derek DeWitt: Right. Well, and then we get into the whole PD argument, professional development and getting more skills and so on.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. I mean, this is always true. People want to expand their knowledge base. It could be for “I want to get a promotion someday.” It could be, “I want to move into a different job.” But even at a current job, a lot of people just want more knowledge. They want to better themselves, better their skills. That’s always going to be the case. And this is kind of a no-brainer.

I think that everybody knows if you have digital signs, you want to advertise every possible professional development opportunity there is. Now, the biggest thing that we see is that when something’s new, for example, you now have access to an online course database of all the, say, Office 365. You know, how to use Excel better, how to use PowerPoint better. It goes up on the screens and that’s fantastic. What people forget is that you’re always onboarding new people and so, don’t show that just when it launches. Whenever these opportunities are up…

Derek DeWitt: Remind.

Debbie DeWitt: …you need to remind people because the fact is people forget. The orientation process is crazy at a company. You spend a week…

Derek DeWitt: At least!

Debbie DeWitt: … meeting everyone, training, learning, whatever your service or product [is]. You’re looking at collateral and intranets and websites…

Derek DeWitt: Where’s the bathroom?

Debbie DeWitt: …and you’re getting 400 passwords set up. Yeah, you’re figuring out where to go to lunch. And you’re given this package that happens to have a URL to some online training or something. So remind people.

Derek DeWitt: Right, you intend to, you go “I will absolutely look at that later.” Later never comes.

Debbie DeWitt: Right. So, it’s about, not just advertising it, but reminding people. And this is the thing, it’s a constant reminder. “We care, we want to see your professional development. We know it’s matters to you, it matters to us, too.” So, it’s a great perk for the organization to say, “Hey, we care about you expanding your skills or your knowledge.” And, by the way, it doesn’t always have to be tied to the job. It can be….

Derek DeWitt: Other stuff. Here’s how to brew beer.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, it can be. Certainly, it can be a masterclass series, you know, it can be anything. And if you offer that, or if you came across the fact that there are some free things online or cheap things online, and you don’t know for a fact that everybody would want it, put it up and see if anyone’s interested. Because it’s still just a value-add. Your company is saying, “Look at us. We thought this might be cool. Anybody want it?”

Derek DeWitt: Right? Or, let’s say for example, say you got some people who are interested in photography. You could do like a masterclass series; I don’t know, maybe during work hours, maybe not, I don’t know. It depends on the organization and how it’s configured. But like, here’s how to take professional-looking photographs. And then those people can start taking professional-looking photographs, which you can then repurpose in your digital signage messages!

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a great way to do it. And certainly, be sure that when people do professional development, whatever the skill set is, when they accomplish something – get a certificate, complete a course – you recognize that on the screens as well.

Derek DeWitt: And this PD issue is one of those things that has a clear generational shift, right? Gallup says, these are the statistics: 41% of Boomers say that opportunities to learn and grow is an important part of their decision making process when applying for a job. 41%. Our generation, the Xers, 44%; millennials 59%.

So, they look at that before they even look at salary. They look at that and go, “Oh, okay!” So, I mean, and I can only assume if that’s the kind of increase we’ve seen, this Gen Z that’s coming up behind, they’re going to, it’s going to be 70, 75, 80%. So it is incumbent upon organizations to offer this.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. And I think that all of these things we’re talking about, there’s an evolution of, they come into the zeitgeist at some point, maybe with Boomers or Xers, and it’s something new. And then the next generation goes, “Oh, this is a great perk that they offer.” And then, the next generation comes in and goes, “This isn’t a perk, this is expected. This is a benefits package.”

Derek DeWitt: Right, right! Yeah, that’s true.

Debbie DeWitt: Basically, that’s what happens is that the things that used to be…

Derek DeWitt: New becomes old.

Debbie DeWitt: …a dream, and then became a perk, they’re now part of the benefits package. So, and that leads into our next thing, which is perks.

Derek DeWitt: Perks!

Debbie DeWitt: Exactly.

Derek DeWitt: Incentives. I mean, you can have at-work incentives, right? Like…?

Debbie DeWitt: You can have, you know, onsite daycare is something that’s popular. You can have [something] as basic as chill-out spaces or free lunches or, again, we were talking about the professional development. “We’ve got all this online learning that, we’ll pay for it.” And some places, like you said, will even pay for your time to do it. So any kind of work related you want to put on your screens, but also think about outside the workplace. I mean, a lot of companies are now doing things like gym memberships or even, or discounts in the area.

Derek DeWitt: I don’t know. If I worked for a company, and they said, “Here’s a gym membership!” I’d say, “Did you just call me fat?”

Debbie DeWitt: The answer is, yes they did. No, they care about your health. And the other thing is, a lot of places do things like time off for volunteer work.

Derek DeWitt: Right, or they’ll give money to a charity of your choice.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, exactly. I mean, and you know, I mentioned before, Visix gives employees their birthday off. It’s not against your PTO or anything like that; it’s just a perk saying, “Thank you. Enjoy your day!” So this again, I think, is a little bit of a no-brainer in terms of you want to advertise all of your benefits and perks and things to employees. But again, the biggest thing is, remember that you need to do it regularly, because you’re going to have new people coming in, but also current employees who just…

Derek DeWitt: Forgot.

Debbie DeWitt: …have a lot on their minds. They’re not going to remember all these things.

Derek DeWitt: I’ve heard of some companies, like, because, for whatever reason, it turns out an awful lot of their employees have pets. And so, they’ll like have, “Okay you can bring your dog in to work once a month.”

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, we do that that. People brings their pets here.

Derek DeWitt: And some are even offering as a perk for their employees, pet insurance or pet grooming discounts and things like this. You know, so it just adds this feeling of…. So, again, why remind people? Because, you know, Abdel didn’t have a pet when he first started working here and now two years in, he’s now got a pet. And he sees [the message], he remembers. Now it’s relevant to him and he takes advantage of that park.

Debbie DeWitt: I think it’s important that you’re not only putting out what you think is good for people, but also survey your employees. Survey the people and say, “What are your interests?” Because again, if you’re offering, I don’t know, I can’t even think of it. If you’re offering a discount to a wine bar nearby, and you find out you’ve got a bunch of beer drinkers, you know, change it to the pub. That’s the other thing, is your perks. That’s another HR focus right now is that they’re very focused on tweaking these benefits and perk packages to really appeal to whatever generation and skill set that you’ve got in the workplace.

Derek DeWitt: Right. And you said, like gym memberships, that obviously ties into something that’s very much on millennials minds – wellness.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, absolutely. It’s funny because this is the one that corporations, companies, don’t necessarily think about this as much.

Derek DeWitt: Right. “That’s your problem!”

Debbie DeWitt: Whereas, a hospital is absolutely advertising. Schools are absolutely focused on wellness and health. But basically, any organization should be. And there are some very easy subscriptions (if you don’t want to do it yourself) that have health tips, little fun facts about if you, you know, “drink just two colas as a day instead of six, it saves you this”…

Derek DeWitt: Well, you can tie it into your perks too. So like, for example, “Hey, it turns out cranberry juice has these health benefits. We have free cranberry juice that you can drink all day.” Things like this.

Debbie DeWitt: Right, exactly. And it can be, if you have a cafe on-site, you don’t just show the menu, show some nutritional information, show some suggestions, serving sizes, things like that. So, basically if we gamify (we talk about gamification and we’re going to do that in some other podcasts), but if you hold a contest or something, you can tie that into any one of these. And wellness is a great one because for example, again, I keep throwing out Visix, but like giving away Fitbit as a prize; it encourages, you know.

Derek DeWitt: “‘Cause now I have it, I guess I’ll use it.”

Debbie DeWitt: …encourages wellness, but it also, it’s again, this isn’t pushing. It’s acknowledging that we’re very focused on health and wellness.

Derek DeWitt: It’s saying it’s here if you want it.

Debbie DeWitt: And so why not tie into that? So, you know, I did come up with a bonus point, in addition to the nine.

Derek DeWitt: Okay. I just wanted to throw out one cool thing that I recently came across. There are some companies now, and again, they’re not pushing, they’re just saying “It’s here if you want it.”

They’re not saying, “Oh, you shouldn’t smoke.” (I mean, they make it harder and harder for smokers to smoke anywhere near the building, for sure.) But they’re offering “Hey, if you want to quit smoking, we have tobacco cessation programs,” or “We have access to them or we’ll enroll you in them. So, if you want it, if you want to quit smoking, we’re here to help you quit smoking.” That’s just a very cool thing to do.

Debbie DeWitt: Well, because wellness is the win-win. If you’re helping your employees to feel better, you’re also helping the healthcare system and insurance rates. And so, it’s a win-win for everyone. That’s why everyone’s focused on it. So, and it leads into my bonus, which is community.

If there’s one thing I’d say to roll all of these up, it’s basically that people want to feel part of a community. Social media, networking, at-work teams, we’re all part of communities, small and large. So, people really want to acknowledge that there’s community available, that they’re part of it. They want recognition for anything that their team or community does. And it’s really just about dialogue.

Derek DeWitt: So, the millennials are here, they are about half of the workforce now. By the year 2025, they’re going to make up over three quarters of it. Gen Z is behind them. To be honest, we could talk about this for hours. We haven’t even touched upon Gen Z.

Debbie DeWitt: You don’t want us to do that, though.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. But remember, they’re not an alien species. They have some extremely interesting viewpoints, and they need to be addressed and listened to. And your digital signage can do that.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s really just all about, all these motivations just are for inspiration for your messages, for your communications. So, I would highly recommend download our Masterclass Guides. We go into a lot more detail and actually give more actual, specific examples of how you can turn these into messages and things. So obviously we’re going to have more podcasts that go into some more details on some of the things we’ve touched on today.

Derek DeWitt: And I just think maybe we need to do one about Gen Z soon. Because they’re about to enter the workforce. Anyway, thank you very much Debbie DeWitt for talking to us. And thank you, all of you, for listening.