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SMEs turn backs on younger workers in “snowflake” generation

Written by Latifa Yedroudj on Monday, 21 October 2019. Posted in Insight, Analysis

The idea of joining an SME is becoming more attractive to millennials.

SMEs turn backs on younger workers in “snowflake” generation

The idea of joining an SME is becoming more attractive to millennials. Young workers are flocking to small businesses with perks of a better work-life balance, friendlier company culture and job flexibility. But how do small businesses view younger applicants? Bad news for millennials – A recent survey found that nearly twice as many SMEs would prefer to recruit an older worker rather than a younger one.

Majority of UK-based SME business owners would rather pick a middle-aged candidate than a millennial, even if they had a similar skills and qualifications, data by one of UK’s most trusted business healthcare providers, Benenden Health, has revealed.

The study, which surveyed 1,000 employees, revealed that 36% of business owners would pick a 55-year-old, with just a fifth preferring a 24-year-old with the same CV (20%).

In addition, business leaders believe the so-called “snowflake” generation raises issues in workplaces such as “lower productivity”, “higher absence rates” and “a poorer grasp of the English language”, the study found.

However, the study also found younger employees felt they were discriminated due to their age when it came to being selected for jobs.

56% of employees aged between 16 to 13 (Generation Z) felt they were overlooked for roles because they were young, compared to 47% of Millennials (aged 24 to 38), 29% of Generation X (aged 39-54) and a third (34%) of Baby Boomers (aged 55-72) who felt the same.

Health and wellbeing packages are starting to become increasingly important for employees and can become a main deciding factor as to whether one would choose to stay with a company long-term.

According to the survey, 50% said a good health package will determine whether they choose a company or decide to stay long-term, with Generation Z employees (16-23) said they were willing to sacrifice a third of their salary for such.

Unfortunately, many SMEs reportedly do not have a healthcare package in place. 85% of small and medium enterprises said they don’t give out healthcare packages to employees above statutory allowances.

Out of the lot, 44% claimed they don’t believe it is necessary and 36% said they don’t believe a strong health and wellbeing package is valuable in recruiting and retaining employees.

“Our research has highlighted some interesting differences between the attitudes of employers and employees when it comes to identifying what makes a business attractive. Healthcare is becoming increasingly valued by workers - often more so than other benefits and even salary - indicating that businesses should move away from a one-size-fits-all healthcare offering and think about tailoring a plan to meet the varied needs of a modern workforce,” Helen Smith, Chief Commercial Officer of Benenden Health, said.

Surprisingly, more than half of businesses (53%) revealed that they have never consulted their workers on what sort of healthcare package they would value most.

Employees of different ages have different priorities when it comes to healthcare, the survey revealed.  Younger workers placed higher value on mental health support, counselling sessions and life skill lessons, while older generations found regular medical checks and flexible working hours to be their top priority.

“Younger generations told us that mental health support is of great importance to them, but these priorities change over time. Generation X workers often have the dual commitment of looking after children and parents so flexible working is valued by them, and with employees working longer than ever, ensuring your older workers are catered for as well – through regular eyesight and hearing tests, and ergonomic offices, for example – is vital to maintaining a strong modern workforce,” Ms Smith added.

“At Benenden Health we firmly believe that a healthy workforce is a productive and motivated workforce and having these open conversations with employees and tailoring a healthcare approach to suit will put businesses in prime position for recruiting, retaining and maximising talent.”

With all the deciding factors in place, each generation has their pros and cons in the work force. Younger workers are more digitally savvy than ever, and can bring a fresh perspective to projects with new ways of thinking. Businesses must realise that hiring a variety of age ranges can bring a good dynamic to the workplace.

About the Author

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj has joined the Elite team to fully immerse herself in the business side of journalism, a strong passion of hers cultivated from young having co-run her mother's start up business since she was 18. Her interests lie in a wide range of subjects, including start ups, business, travel, and anything entrepreneurial she can get her hands on. She has worked for some of the biggest names in journalism including The Guardian and The Mirror. Follow her on @latifayed on Twitter for her latest journo rants.

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