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Millennials and Your Stock Plan

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May 19, 2016 | Jennifer Namazi

Millennials and Your Stock Plan

Those of you who are regular blog readers likely know by now that one of my favorite topics in stock plans is that of participant communications. I enjoy the dynamics of communication, and exploring the many modes, practices and mediums available. One thing that has long been a consideration in any communications strategy is the art of understanding the audience, including generational differences, and crafting a message that will resonate - both in its delivery method and content.

Multiple resources widely report that the Millennial generation now is the largest living generation in the United States, outnumbering baby boomers. It's then not hard to fathom the reality that, in many companies, the Millennial component of the workforce may be larger than any other group. In today's blog, using a recent blog published by myStockOptions.com ("Millennials and Stock Compensation: How to Tailor Stock Plan Eduacation For the Instagram Generation") as a reference, we'll explore the communication needs of this large generation of Millennials relative to your stock plan.

Who Are Millennials?

I have to admit, sometimes it's hard to keep track of all the generational nicknames out there. I actually had to do some Googling myself to sort through some of them. So who are Millennials? While dates of generations are not exact, most resources believe the Millennial (also known as Gen Y) population includes those born in the early 1980s until the late 1990s to 2000 time frame.

A Key Question

The myStockOptions.com blog reports that up to 50% of workforce employees may fall into the Millennial generation category. With such a sizeable population coming from a single generation, it warrants more understanding of the needs and nuances of these folks in the workplace, and of course, relevant to our industry, their stock plans. myStockOptions.com poses a key question:

"As we all know, stock plans work well to attract and retain talent only if participants understand their grants, making education and communications essential. Given the differences between the Millennial mindset and that of the Baby Boomers and Generation Xers who entered the workforce before them, how should stock plan education adjust to ensure that Millennials are getting its messages?"

We Have Answers

In their blog, myStockOptions.com explored tactics used by three companies as case study examples, with interesting findings: Akamai, AppDynamics, and Google. Not surprisingly, all three companies have workforces comprised of close to 50% Millennials (54% for Akamai and Google, 47% for AppDynamics). Here are some of the tips cited by one or more of the companies to implement when crafting communications for this generation:

  • Avoid information overload. Use timely, concise emails with information in the subject line that helps identify action required - such as "Action Required" or "Informational Purposes Only."
  • Brevity wins engagement. Participants won't be motivated by complexity.
  • Develop relevant content that engages your employees. For one of the companies, this means conducting equity surveys, creating newsletters, asking a question in each educational session or webcast, and even prize raffles.
  • One company cites great results in having "one-day, all-day educational sessions for employees a month after they start. These have been popular: the company says each live session has had 'standing room only.'"
  • For more tips visit the "Millennials and Stock Compensation: How to Tailor Stock Plan Education For the Instagram Generation" blog on myStockOptions.com.

 

Additionally, myStockOptions.com editor-in-chief, Bruce Brumberg, shared some additional tips, including:

  • For a young employee population that is continually busy and multi-tasking, timing education to occur during "teachable moments." These moments may include hire, tax season, the year-end period (especially if your company’s stock price has increased), vesting, and ESPP enrollment.
  • Interactive content is key, and it is important to have graphics, not just text.
  • Engaging content may include quizzes and videos—and, of course, everything needs to be accessible by mobile phones.
  • At the same time, it's time to debunk the common assumption that Millennials are unwilling to read. As Bruce explained, "myStockOptions has found that when a topic really interests them, Millennials can be hungry for knowledge and in-depth information." While messages for Millennials must be tailored to accommodate their busy, frequently online lives, these communications should not be so short that valuable details are lost.

 

Certainly there is much to consider in crafting communications to a multi-generational workforce. With many baby boomers still in the workforce, Gen X'ers sandwiched in the middle, and Millennials continuing to increase in workforce population demographics, this makes for a workplace filled with different needs, approaches, and strategies. It's time to ensure your participant communications address the unique needs of all workforce generations.

-Jenn

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