Autumn Manning, CEO of YouEarnedIt, shares how everyone—no matter their age—wants more connection to their job, and how this can be accomplished through employee engagement.
One size fits all: it’s a phrase we all hate to see on clothing. The ill-fitting strategy conveys that whoever is providing the item that should, indeed, fit all, didn’t want to spend the time, money, or effort on diversifying its options for its customers, who come in all shapes and sizes.
With clothing, the stakes aren’t too terribly high. With a business’ employees? Not worth the risk.
And yet, companies over the past several decades have utilized one-size-fits-all policies with employees. It used to be enough to work a 9 to 5 job that was just that—a job. A review once a year would haphazardly guide your career forward, if you had a good boss. And if your company could afford to, the yearly bonus come the end of the year was enough to convince to you come back to work after the holidays.
But today’s generation demands better. Many millennials want to know they aren’t just seat-fillers collecting an empty dollar at the end of the day, but rather real contributors with a positive impact on the business. Millennials want personalized job duties and real-time feedback without barriers, and this will be communicated, without hesitation.
“Millennials often force the right conversations to occur within a business,” shared Autumn Manning, CEO of YouEarnedIt, the award-winning employee recognition and reward software. “The generation as a whole is focused on people, which is where businesses’ attention should be as well.”
Throughout her time bringing YouEarnedIt from the incubation stage to the successful company it is today, Manning and her colleagues have come to the conclusion that everyone—millennial, generation Xer, or baby boomer alike—crave feedback and recognition.
“You’ll be hard pressed to find someone in your workforce who doesn’t want a deeper connection.”
That’s where YouEarnedIt comes in. The award-winning software encourages real-time, employee-to-employee recognition by creating a customizable rewards approach that has been proven to increase companies’ ROI. Ask Condé Nast, Tempur-Pedic, Dell, Sony, Pandora, or Anheuser Busch; these companies are just a handful of the many happy users of the product.
But before it was pulling in the big clients, the company started on its journey to increase employee engagement in 2012 with Rockfish acting as a full-service digital innovation partner. The partnership with a brand known for growing innovative companies was key for YouEarnedIt early on, giving the fledgling company unfettered access to end users of the product.
Rockfish’s culture was great, but staying inside the safe confines of its partner wasn’t meant to be the long-term solution. YouEarnedIt needed to find its own identity and establish its own culture. Just a year later, Manning led the spinoff from Rockfish.
“I love the cultures of startups,” she shared. “It’s just how I’m wired. If you can’t or don’t want to eat, sleep, and breathe the mission of your startup, it’s not for you. It has to be an all-consuming passion. For me, building a product aimed at changing behavior for the betterment of everyone has become my passion.”
Her background in psychology and fascination with human behavior makes this company just about the perfect fit for Manning, who has been able to successfully grow the organization outside of Rockfish through a strategy based around bridging the gaps between people.
“No one wants to be bad at their job. Employees want to know what they do well, and they want more connection with the people they work with and the company they work for.”
Throughout our conversation, Manning—a proponent for millennials—and I—a millennial—danced around using the actual word “millennial” to describe the biggest generation of workers the United States has seen yet.
She thought it proved the age-old adage that “words have power”, and with the media’s negative classification of the generation, much of the business world approached young people as a problem rather than an opportunity to provide a different perspective and innovative solutions in the workplace.
“The key is being aware of the diversity of the team. The tone is set from the leadership, so if you have an organization that is struggling to adapt to the diversity of the team, it’s often because certain employees or generations are seen as an ‘issue’ they have to ‘deal with’,” said Manning.
YouEarnedIt proves that it’s possible to bring together all generations—all employees regardless of age—under one employee engagement program. Have a couple of employees who want to have more time to volunteer at a local charity? Rewards for good work can be a day off to contribute to the community. Employ a lover of high-tech? If they meet their goals, maybe an iPad Mini can be in the cards. The options are limitless, and don’t have to be centered on cash to engage the people that work for you.
We all know the importance of engaged employees. A whopping 82 percent of employees believe it’s important for their organization to address the employee engagement problem. Another large majority—79 percent—of highly engaged employees have trust and confidence in their leaders. And, surprise, employees who report feeling valued by their employer are 60 percent more likely to report they are motivated to do their very best for their employer.
But a company’s success in utilizing a viable employee engagement plan is directly linked to leadership’s understanding of engagement.
“Each company’s leadership team needs to figure out what engagement means to them,” Manning said. “Change can only occur within a company if they know what they want to change.”
Manning believes in the mission of YouEarnedIt, and how the company is successfully bringing together a handful of very different generations in the workplace. Many professionals perceive a great divide in the workplace—between traditional and modern approaches to business, and between the ways young generations work compared to others who have been in the game for a while.
Many professionals perceive a great divide in the workplace—between traditional and modern approaches to business, and between the ways young generations work compared to others who have been in the game for a while.
But at the end of the day, employee engagement is not a millennial issue—it’s an opportunity for a company to appeal to every single worker in a different way, without complicating the business’s processes. Can you envision what your business could accomplish with a more engaged workforce?