Respect from Management Is Not a Perk

Attracting young workers takes more than gimmicks



Greg Cholmondeley


Last weekend, I read a Fast Company magazine article titled “RIP ping-pong. The era of wacky office perks is dead.” It infuriated me. Now, don't get me wrong, the article was well written and I agreed with the author's conclusion—but the underlying implications got under my skin.

We’re in challenging labor times. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, printing employees decreased at a 12.9% CAGR in 2020. Average hourly wages in the printing industry increased by a 5.4% CAGR in 2019-2022. Therefore, print services providers (PSPs) and other companies are actively looking for ways to attract new, younger workers. Even though this article was written in July of 2021, it is relevant today.

The article discussed how companies often used fun office perks—like ping pong tables, yoga studios, and in-office video arcades—to attract younger workers. While this technique worked for a while, it has fallen out of favor. A research study discovered that workers younger than 35 place more value on respect than gimmicks.

What a shocking conclusion.

Without doing any research, I'd be willing to bet that we Boomers (and pretty much all other human beings on the planet) feel the same way. Respect of and by management is not a perk—it is a workplace requirement. Please don't forget that when trying to staff your operations.

So, what does this have to do with my focus on production workflow solutions? Well, quite a bit. Software automation can improve jobs and the work environment rather than eliminate positions.

  • Update your work environment. Young people don’t want to use ancient, 2000s-era software, processes, and amenities.
  • Automate menial and repetitious work so that employees can add real and rewarding value when using their abilities.
  • Provide workplace software tools (where possible) that don't require staff to be chained to their desks. Sometimes this isn't feasible, but many cloud-based solutions offer tremendous flexibility for when and where work can occur.
  • Foster an environment of culture change where new ideas and approaches are encouraged. Embrace fresh suggestions and shirk the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” attitude.
  • Always ensure that managers communicate respectfully and value their staff’s contributions.

Perhaps our lockdowns and slowdowns have provided people enough pause to reflect upon what is truly important. We spend most of our waking hours at work, so while a fun environment is pleasant, people have figured out that appreciation and accomplishment are more critical. Now, that’s not to say that putting a ping-pong table in that empty area in shipping is a bad idea—just don’t lead with that as the top benefit of working in your shop.


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