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July 6, 2018

Human Resources 2.0

By Josh Fiorini

By now everyone is familiar with what’s called “Web 2.0,” which refers to the fundamental switch in the direction of content generation from media conglomerates to users. Thanks to the myriad apps and platforms that allow anyone anywhere to create video, photo and written content, the majority of content available on the web today is created by its own users, not by third parties. In other words, media content today is driven from the bottom up, not the top down.

What does this have to do with business, let alone firearms you may ask? Web 2.0 is a self-reinforcing cause of a cultural shift happening today. That cultural shift will impact your business, particularly with regard to human resources and managing younger employees.

Much discussion about that cultural shift revolves around Millennials in the workplace. Some of this discussion is negative, with comments about unrealistic expectations, a need for coddling and lack of work ethic. Other aspects are positive, citing tech savviness, creative abilities and unique approaches to problems. Regardless of which side you subscribe to, the reality is that Millennials are a part of today’s workforce, and their share of that population will only be growing for the foreseeable future. As such, adapting your approach as a business owner to optimize your management of this employee segment will be to your advantage.

It’s Not One Size Fits All

Let me be clear, I am not advising lowering your expectations regarding employee performance. But there are a number of things you can do — without sacrificing traditional standards — that can enhance your workplace relationship with Millennial employees, while potentially improving your HR processes and business overall. Let’s take a look at three.

360-Degree Reviews

The “top down” approach of traditional business models is something widely rejected by the Millennial generation. Employees of this generation need feedback, be it positive or negative, more often than previous generations and appreciate the opportunity to be able to provide meaningful input into the organization — and they’re not waiting for the boss to tap them on the shoulder and offer advancement.

A great way to address this mindset is to put in place a 360-degree review system in which managers and supervisors evaluate employees in their charge, just as they always have, but additionally employees have the opportunity to do the same with their supervisors and managers. This process, which can be conducted as often as you like but should be at least annual, can provide valuable insight into how your team is functioning, while allowing the younger segment of your workforce to feel valuable, engaged and coached.

Choices in Benefits

Nearly all employers offer some kind of employee benefits that may be inclusive of health, dental or vision insurance, 401K matching, education assistance programs, disability insurance and others. The traditional, one-size-fits-all approach to employee wellness programs generally consists of a package of options selected by top management and passed down to employees as take it or leave it.

The ability to choose, exercise influence over, customize and optimize their lives is something of utmost importance to today’s younger workforce. In response, many insurers will now allow an employer to select several types of plans to offer at no additional cost.

Keep in mind that employers generally have benefits budgets set aside that assume a large percentage of participation, even 100 percent. But what if you allowed choice in your benefits programs, for example, offering multiple insurance plans, some at low cost to both you and the employee? Or what if you offered options where an employee could choose a more robust retirement reimbursement in exchange for choosing a cheaper health plan or not participating in the health plan? How these choices shake out depend on you, your business and your preferences, but offering choice can be a great way to make younger employees feel appreciated and valued without necessarily costing you more.

Hey Coach, Am I In?

It is true that younger employees can have unrealistic expectations about advancement — and no one is benefitted by employers catering to this. However, simply offering the opportunity for advancement can be a powerful way to address this expectation while maintaining the integrity of your team.

Give some thought to a policy of internal promotions. This is not to say that if no one internally is qualified for a new position you shouldn’t look outside, but consider making a look inside first a policy — and tell your employees that’s your policy. This promotes loyalty, and the inside application process itself provides the very real opportunity for your Millennial employees an opportunity to advance, while also giving you an avenue to provide necessary and proper feedback if they aren’t ready.

A policy of career coaching is another approach that can go a long way toward building loyalty, and even if that means you’re telling your Millennial employees about former employees of yours who moved on to other, bigger endeavors. Take some time, at least annually, to discuss with your team where their interests and passions lie and what direction they seek in their careers, then offer real and practical advice on how to get there while considering the impact of their answers on your team and your organization.

Great companies are made by great teams, and great teams are made when smart and qualified people sacrifice together and work toward a common goal. Building effective teams across generational boundaries is harder than ever. A few simple steps can help ease this burden, and may provide you some insights you never considered in the process. Build Team 2.0.

About the Author
Josh Fiorini has a wealth of experience in manufacturing, business management and finance both within and without the firearms industry. He was the CEO of PTR Industries, Inc. for seven years and spent the first decade of his career in finance holding positions as an equity analyst and portfolio manager before starting his own hedge fund which led him to the firearms industry. This experience, along with a deep background in manufacturing, banking and private equity, has made him a sought after contributor on numerous boards, discussion groups, media outlets, corporations and community organizations. Currently, Fiorini invests his time with non-profit initiatives and acts as a contributor and management consultant to various firms in the firearms industry. His activities have been reported in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and USA Today.

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