Engaging the different generations in the workplace is always a hot topic, and there is increasing evidence that take-up of share plans among younger employees is disproportionately lower than their older colleagues. However, this is not necessarily a sign of disengagement with their employer.
In 2017, Proshare produced a report, Attitudes to employee ownership, to try and understand, among other things, why Millennials were not joining employer share incentive plans (Sip) and save-as-you-earn (SAYE) plans. Interestingly, and perhaps contrary to what may have been expected, it was Generation X employees who were more likely to be put off by the cost. For SAYE plans, Millennials said their top reasons for non-participation were around their understanding of the plan and expected length of tenure at the organisation. Proshare seeks to address this within our lobbying manifesto requesting changes to plans to make them easier to understand.
Share plans can certainly be used as a force for good; HM Revenue and Customs-approved plans, such as Sips and SAYE, offer significant tax advantages to the employee and also a host of other productivity and retention related benefits to the employer, as well as aligning employees with shareholders. Engaging the next generations should clearly be a goal for employers that are offering share plans.
The question, then, is how best to get the message across. As with everything: communicate, communicate and then communicate some more.
What this does not mean, however, is that employers should bombard people with mountains of brochures and paperwork. This can actually turn people off and in today’s world is definitely not a sustainable solution. Instead, make information available online for those that want to read it and do not underestimate the importance of education; finance is complicated, so making it simple and fun with videos and gamification helps.
The key is for an employer to think about how to catch the attention of its target group. The most successful campaigns are often a little bit quirky and get people talking. The messages need to be short and sharp; employers are competing with everything else for a very limited period of airtime so they need to catch the attention and deliver a quick message.
Finally, employers should think about this: if it is not available on a phone via an app, then they have probably already missed 50% of their Millennial audience.
Zoe Denny-Thomas is head of member services at Proshare