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The New Employee Contract with Anthony Onesto

July 6, 2022
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Here at Groundswell, we have the pleasure of talking with people who are passionate improving engagement, retention and overall satisfaction of today’s workforce. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with one of these individuals, Anthony Onesto, author of The New Employee Contract: How to Find, Keep, and Elevate Gen Z Talent. His book dives deep into the ever-evolving employee landscape with the introduction of GenZ workers and the wave automation.

Welcome, Anthony! So glad to be speaking with you today. Your main focus with the book is how to better understand and how to attract and retain employees, specifically for the GenZ audience and population. Why was it important for you to specifically focus on GenZ for your book?

I think there are two elements of the book that I wanted to talk about. One is the macro message about erosion and the unwritten employee contract between employees and employers, “If you give me this, I give you that.” It's something that's been established for quite a while and has unfortunately been eroding over time. There are a bunch of different reasons for it. You know, one, the macro economic dependencies on short-term earnings and all these sorts of things that are making decisions that aren't people related and kind of eroding that contract from the company perspective. Then, having new generations coming into the workforce with this, there's no like fact that my father worked for one company, his entire life doesn't exist anymore. I think people look at the employee and say, employees aren't loyal anymore, but I think it was the companies that started it, right. So, it's a macro view on that contract and how we renew, we need to re-establish that. At a micro level, what I want to do is tell that story, and also provide tactical advice to companies on the next generation of employees that are coming into the workforce. When millennials came into the workforce, we were all surprised that they thought differently and wanted different things than GenX and Boomers. There are commonalities in the various generations. But for the most part, when millennials came into the workforce, we were surprised and somewhat unprepared. I wanted to take the macro lens of this employment contract and use it as a way to provide advice for the next generation. GenZ are coming into the workforce. Some of them are here, and over the next five to seven years more of them will come into the workplace. I wanted to explore and understand the question of whether they want something different, like what we saw with millennials. If they do, how do we prepare companies better to welcome them into organizations and around these three different areas: recruiting, employee retention and training?

That makes a lot of sense and it's super interesting, at least from your purview to see that shift. You explore the concepts of, and the differences between 20th and the 21st-century jobs in your book. Can you give a brief primer on what those actual key differences are and why it really does matter?

Sure, a 20th-century job is typically a manufacturing job or job where you're required to come into the office at a set time, punch a clock or where your job has specific duties and output. I gave a presentation the other day, and then the image illustration of a 20th-century job is at the turn of the century. Not this one, but the former century. When people used to go bowling for example, there were actual human beings that picked up the bowling pins and replaced them. That was an actual job someone had in the 20th-century. That sort of mechanical, where the output is exactly the same, and they can do the job exactly the same. Today that is all automated.A 20th-century job was determined by leadership. From the top down they determined the hours that you had to work and the way you had to work in certain ways. There wasn't a lot of creative freedom in those jobs. Some 20th-century jobs still exist today. Especially that mentality. But if we're thinking about the information age and the stuff that you and I do, we need to really start thinking about these roles in the 21st-century. It’s defined by giving that freedom that job is no longer nine to five that it can be accomplished. It’s output-based. It's not determined by where you go, the hours you work and all of the elements that we saw in a 20th-century job. It's about creative freedom and allowing people and we're seeing an escalation of this. Of course, we saw this accelerate with the COVID pandemic.The future may be different – where you know people are doing the job and different hours, ways, and all sorts of things. It's not as prescriptive as it once was.

Yeah, and you even mentioned the idea of automation and I know you explore it in your book. It's so interesting because the intent was to create and make our lives easier. Yet more people are arguably more miserable and stressed.

Yeah, I mean, I think if you look at the elements, there are two phases of automation. One is incremental automation and the second is full automation. We've seen the challenges whether it's the Tesla autonomous vehicle, which everyone is striving towards. If you've watched the movie about Uber, the idea that Travis had, drivers were a friction point in his plan. So, we can remove the drivers, right? So there's always going to be incremental innovation and automation around these things. The question here is whether the elements of these jobs should exist? So the fact is, if you can automate a role in a warehouse for Amazon, that job can be fully automated by a robot so that person can do something different now. What happens to the individual? So like you said, not all automation is great, some of us are miserable. Well, what happens is if things are automated, we become more efficient. We're looking for other things to do. How do we train folks to think creatively and create programs where you're not doing that 20th-century task-oriented job, and it's already here, like e-mail. It's automation, like most of our jobs are already, you know, automated to a certain degree. It's looking at the entirety of the situation and being very thoughtful about it versus “let's just automate this because it'll make it cheaper to do.”

How do we ensure employees don’t feel like another cog in the wheel? This can really show up if there's a culture of micromanagement and a sole focus on business metrics. How can companies do better to address that?

When you look at it from the lens of GenZ, the idea of micromanaging is something that's going to be very pushed back. The GenZ generation is going to push back on micromanagement because the majority of them were born with an iPhone in their hands, figuratively speaking. But also just the idea of co-creation. There's a reason why the majority of GenZ actually has a TikTok account, which is the fastest-growing content medium in the world right now, faster than Netflix and Disney plus, and they have almost a zero content budget. They don't create any original content. So co-creation, flexibility, all these things are super important for the GenZ environment. There’s also rethinking how we foster respect. For example, there's no reason for anyone to be online for 24 hours, so you can set reasonable expectations and boundaries around communication. The “send later” feature on email and slack is a game-changer. So just because you can send a message at any moment, think about the people that work for you. Are they going to be on and think “oh, he's on and I need to respond to this right away”? So now I'm using automation to go okay, I'm going to send this tomorrow morning. It's good for me to do it because I'm most productive, but it may not necessarily be good for the other person. It's those intentional things that are going to be critical.

That's really interesting. I am curious from a benefits perspective, what is actually meaningful to this generation beyond benefits like healthcare?

The one thing is benefits are at a higher level mission for organizations. There's an asterisk there because I think that trends across many different generations are more so like GenX, and then more millennial and more GenZ. So, it's not very different from the millennial generation, but it's going to be a critical factor. Company mission for this generation is going to be a game-changer, meaning they will not even consider unless they align on a mission. Things like corporate giving where it's not top-down is interesting. Tools like Groundswell are interesting because you're incorporating the interests of the employees where normal social responsibility, some executive or some board member is part of some charity and now that company is supporting that charity. Groundswell is exactly what it is. It's coming from the ground up saying okay, employees in this organization really care about women's rights, homelessness, etc. And now you're building your portfolio of charities around what they want. That's co-creation. GenZ really likes that. So I think Groundswell and social responsibility tools are going to have a competitive advantage there. They want flexible job design, like we talked about before, they want that 21st-century job.

For our final question, we want to know what causes you care about. In the spirit of making the world a better place, what is something you’re passionate about that we can highlight?

Great question. I have a side project - Ella Adventures that produces comic books in partnership with Deloitte Consulting to increase interest in STEM with girls. You can see more on our site and Deloitte's site too. Women and girls in tech is a true passion project of mine. We are now working on building a pitch for an animated Ella series. Exciting!

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Unlocking Philanthropy: A Ready-to-Use Corporate Giving Policy for Modern Businesses

Sample Corporate Giving Policy You Can Use Today

In today’s socially conscious environment, more companies than ever are recognizing the value of corporate philanthropy. Not only can a robust giving policy boost a brand’s image and reputation, but it can also play a pivotal role in community development and global betterment. If your company is considering the establishment of a formal corporate giving policy or refining its existing strategy, this sample policy might be the perfect starting point for you.

Download Sample Policy

Pillars of a Strong Corporate Giving Policy

Corporate giving programs range from employer donation matching programs to full blown corporate social responsibility programs with grantmaking and volunteerism.  Many companies find somewhere in the middle that aligns with their size, budget, geographic presence and most importantly company values and commitment to diversity and inclusion. But what truly makes a corporate giving policy stand out? Let’s delve into the key features, from donation matching to the strategic use of platforms like Groundswell.

1. Donation Matching: Doubling the Impact

One of the most effective tools in a giving policy is donation matching. This is where companies match employee donations to eligible non-profits, effectively doubling the contribution. Such programs not only amplify the impact but also motivate employees to participate, knowing their chosen cause will receive twice the support.

2. Charitable Stipends: Encouraging Employee Choice

Charitable stipends are allowances given to employees to donate to a non-profit of their choice. This not only encourages a culture of giving but also empowers employees to support causes they’re passionate about. The stipends can be a fixed amount annually or can vary based on the employee’s role or tenure.

3. Dollars for Doers: Volunteering Translated to Contributions

“Dollars for Doers” programs convert volunteer hours into monetary donations. When employees volunteer their time for a cause, the company makes a donation equivalent to the hours spent. This fosters a culture of hands-on involvement and ensures that both time and money are being donated to valuable initiatives.

4. Corporate Grants: Sowing Seeds for Bigger Change

Beyond individual employee contributions, companies can set aside a dedicated fund for corporate grants. These grants can be given to non-profits, research initiatives, or community projects that align with the company’s CSR objectives. Such grants can lead to substantial, long-term changes and foster strong partnerships with community leaders and organizations.

Why Choose Groundswell for Your Giving Initiatives?

Incorporating these elements into a giving policy requires streamlined management, transparency, and ease of execution. This is where platforms like Groundswell come into the picture.

Groundswell offers an efficient and affordable solution for companies aiming to elevate their philanthropic endeavors. Here’s why it’s the ideal choice:

  • User-Friendly Interface: Groundswell’s platform is designed for both companies and employees, ensuring smooth navigation and straightforward donation processes.
  • Versatility: Whether it’s donation matching, handling charitable stipends, or managing corporate grants, Groundswell offers solutions tailored to each company’s unique needs.
  • Cost-Effective: Groundswell provides a comprehensive suite of tools at competitive prices, ensuring that more of your money goes towards the cause rather than platform fees.
  • Transparency: Track donations, monitor employee involvement, and generate detailed reports to measure the impact—all in one place.

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An effective corporate giving policy is a blend of structure, employee engagement, and impactful contributions. By incorporating elements like donation matching, charitable stipends, “Dollars for Doers,” and corporate grants, businesses can create a ripple effect of positive change. And with platforms like Groundswell, executing these initiatives becomes not just feasible but also highly efficient and cost-effective.

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5 Tips to Boost Engagement & Impact on Giving Tuesday

Leverage GivingTuesday to boost generosity

Every November, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is known as GivingTuesday, which often serves as the unofficial start of end-of-year giving campaigns. This comes on the heels of holiday shopping deals on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. It is a worldwide phenomenon, inspiring millions to lean into the end-of-year holiday spirit with generosity and compassion. For many charities, GivingTuesday has become their biggest day for donations – and can help resource their ability to have an even greater impact in the year ahead.

For companies, GivingTuesday and the end-of-year giving season offers an opportunity to double down on their commitment to social responsibility, strengthen relationships with employees, and boost their impact in the community and broader world.

At Groundswell, we partner with companies all across the country to design and launch GivingTuesday campaigns – leveraging our easy-to-use platform that makes it easy for employees to participate and send donations to the causes and charities that they care most about. Below are some best practices to boost engagement and inspire generosity during the giving season.

1. Make Giving Easy:

A lot of giving platforms out there make it incredibly hard to donate. Some don’t have all 1.5 million IRS-approved charities listed. Others require employees to navigate through a web of intranet or sharepoint sites to find the giving program landing page. And others require that HR is notified of any donations an employee wants to make. At Groundswell – we are committed to removing all of the friction, and ensuring that employees can find charities easily, through a platform that is accessible from the palm of their hand, so they can give whenever they want to.

2. Launch a GivingTuesday Match Campaign:

Through Groundswell you can customize and launch a special GivingTuesday match campaign in a matter of minutes. Simply pick the nonprofits to include in the special campaign, select the start and end-date for the campaign, and then determine the match – 2x, 3x – along with any overall budget limits, then you’re done!

3. Boost engagement by involving ERGs:

Share nonprofit recommendations from Employee Resource Groups to provide inspiration around causes and nonprofits that matter to your employees. You can feature these nonprofits on dedicated ERG Corporate Spotlights and Campaigns that will be visible to all employees on their Groundswell dashboard.

4. Surprise (and Delight) Employees With A Gift to Give:

Consider sending a surprise “gift to give” to reward those already participating in your giving program (and to incentivize others to enroll). These gifts might be used to further maximize impact through the existing campaign, or to donate to other nonprofits your employees care about. Groundswell’s custom gift feature allows companies to easily schedule and send gifts with little to no administrative burden.

5. Level up with Volunteer Matching:

Groundswell’s Volunteer Matching program – sometimes known as Dollars for Doers – recognizes that some employees may not have funds to contribute, but have time – and rewards them in the same way. It’s an inclusive approach that invites everyone to participate in GivingTuesday, even those who may not be able to donate their own funds.

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12 Employee Benefits Survey Questions Modern Companies Should Ask

In today's business environment, having the right and highest performing talent is more critical than ever. With benefits packages playing a vital role in these decisions, how can companies truly gauge their effectiveness? By initiating regular employee benefits surveys.

Scroll down for a free survey template below.

Let's dive in to the importance of asking the following questions.

Is our workforce satisfied with the current employee benefits package?

Gaining insights from "how satisfied are you with our company’s benefits package?" can offer companies a quick pulse on the effectiveness of their benefits. A dip in satisfaction might signal a need for re-evaluation, especially if you're looking to maximize your budget.

How comprehensive are the employee benefits we offer?

Do employees feel that the organization covers a wide range of their needs? Asking, "do you feel our benefits package is comprehensive in its offering?" can shed light on any potential gaps in coverage.

Are we showing true commitment to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion through our benefits?

Are the company's efforts in promoting DE&I resonating? This can be gauged by asking if the benefits genuinely support diversity and inclusion. If they aren't, here's an opportunity to collect ideas directly from your employees.

Read more about how to make sure your giving program is equitable and inclusive.

Do our benefits reflect our company culture and values?

The question, "do you feel our benefits package supports our cultural values?" will highlight any potential discrepancies in practicing what you're preaching.

Did you know? Two-thirds of employees say it’s important for a company to align to their values.

Are we catering to the needs of a remote or multi-location workforce?

With remote work on the rise, is the company adapting its benefits accordingly? It's essential to find out if employees feel supported, regardless of their work setting.

Would employees recommend the company based on our benefits?

This is an easy one to skip, but it's a great question to ask. See how influential your benefits package is for employee referrals. Determining if employees would advocate for the company based on its benefits can be a key metric for recruitment.

How do specific benefit categories fare?

By querying satisfaction levels across various benefits – physical health, social impact, mental health, financial health, and fringe benefits – can companies discern which areas are thriving and which need enhancement?

What additional benefits do employees desire?

Is there a particular benefit that could make a difference in employee satisfaction and retention? Discovering this can be as straightforward as asking, "if you could choose one benefit not currently offered, what would it be?"

If your workforce desires a more meaningful benefit, see why decentralizing your corporate philanthropy strategy can achieve greater impact at scale.

How often should I send an employee survey about our benefits?

While every business has their own set of unique needs, conducing a quarterly employee survey at minimum can help you get a pulse check.

There will be some natural and unplanned peaks in valleys throughout the year that can drastically affect employee morale and company culture. By proactively seeking feedback through surveys, companies can foster a culture of continuous improvement, ensuring they remain at the forefront of employee satisfaction.

What are some affordable benefit options we can provide employees?

Corporate matching or giving programs can be a low-cost addition to your benefit offering that supports your employees’ unique passions and perspectives through charitable giving and boosts your company’s commitment to social impact.  Groundswell offers a comprehensive solution with a simple implementation and nearly zero administration burden.

[Free Template] Employee Benefits Survey Questions

  1. How satisfied are you with our company’s benefits package?
  2. Do you feel our benefits package is comprehensive in its offering?
  3. Do you feel our benefits package supports our cultural values?
  4. Do you feel our benefits package supports our commitment to Diversity & Inclusion?
  5. Do you feel our benefits package supports our remote or multi-location workforce?
  6. How likely are you to recommend applying based on our benefits package?
  7. How satisfied are you with our physical health benefits (i.e. health care, sick leave, etc)?
  8. How satisfied are you with our social impact benefits (i.e. corporate matching, volunteering, etc)?
  9. How satisfied are you with our mental health benefits (i.e. vacation time, EAP, etc)?
  10. How satisfied are you with our financial health benefits? (i.e. retirement, student loan assistance, etc)
  11. How satisfied are you with our fringe benefits and perks? (i.e. fitness subsidies, stipends, etc)
  12. If you could choose one benefit not currently offered, what would it be?
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