Millennials and Retirement? Comp Corner…

Time for another post from our little Compensation Geek, Meghann Bedell:

Are you ready for your retirement, Millennial buddy? Yes, I know you’re 20-something years old, but bear with me – 401(k), 403(b), Ira Roth, IRA do you know the difference? What does your company offer? Do you even know?

Are you making the mistake of thinking who the hell cares about retirement – I’ve got 30 years to save.

Let me say this loud and clear – it’s never too early to start saving. For the more stubborn folks, I repeat, NEVER TOO EARLY!

Millennials (and everyone else) remember the unprecedented collapse of the economy in 2008/2009.  I personally know some people who lost everything (and if I know someone I know that most of you know someone too)!

This all happened when my class was graduating college…what a great starting point for us! “Congrats on all of your hard work, but….” – now it’s time to compete with people that have 10+ years of experience in a job with a company that may or may not be around in the next five years.  Oh, and remember what we were telling you about the “Baby Boomers” moving out of the workplace?  Well that’s off the table, too, because the majority of them just lost all of their savings, and they will be in the workplace for another 15 years. Good luck!

If you were fortunate enough to find a job at that point then I say hold on to it for dear life and don’t let go – but now five years later the economic situation has stabilized a bit (not recovered, mind you), and more people are getting permanent positions.  Now you are asking, what’s the moral of this long-winded terribly boring story?

It’s important to save what you can now because it’s not a guarantee that the option will always be there. Not tomorrow, not next pay period, not next year…. Now!

Most employers put a freeze on matching a portion of what their employee’s contribute to retirement plans when the economy went south, but now they have lifted that freeze and are offering you free money. All you have to do is be smart enough to take it.

It doesn’t take 50%, 25% or even 10% of your pay – Contributing as little as 3% of your pay will make a difference over the course of a year.

More good news – if your company offers you a retirement plan then I bet you they offer payroll deduction for your contribution – that means the contribution comes out on a pretax basis and that in turn lowers your taxable income – a win-win for you!


Don’t let articles like this be right.  Don’t let a false belief that you will live forever, or the thought that “the recession is over” prevent you from saving for your future now.

Glassdoor Can Learn From Wikipedia

 Back in June, I wrote an initial piece about based on a survey conducted by my friends at Software Advice, a company that reviews HR technology, and found what at first seemed like a contradiction in information; According to this report, the typical reviewer for Glassdoor is from the “Millennial” generation.. It’s a quick piece, should take you 2 minutes, tops, to get up to speed.


Okay, maybe 4 minutes
Okay, maybe 4 minutes


Aaaaaaand, you’re back.

Re-visiting the post, one thing pops off the page. Surprisingly, the identified users of Glassdoor were identified as the 45 and older crowd. Going hand-in-hand with that snippet of information, the most important information on Glassdoor, as identified by these users, is the Comp & Benefits information. That part makes sense – we (yes, I’m 45+) may be less concerned with the development opportunities and culture of an employer; for us, it’s time to make the donuts, so let’s make some money while we’re doing it.

Then, I received a second survey from Software Advice, and found what at first seemed like a contradiction in information. According to this report, the typical reviewer for Glassdoor is from the “Millennial” generation.

How’s that jibe with the first survey? Well, it took me a minute, but then I realized what I was seeing – it’s a matter of trust.

The Gen-Y, Gen-X and Boomer Generations are definitely using Glassdoor, but we aren’t going to engage in the review process. Why? We still don’t believe it.

Millennials are engaging with Glassdoor as a social community, openly sharing information with one another in hopes of benefitting the group as a whole.

Am I right? You tell me:

  • Glassdoor reviewers are predominantly Millennials. Glassdoor users are predominantly 45 and older. One is contributing, one is trolling.
  • The Top 10 Glassdoor companies would not even qualify for something as “old school” as the Fortune Top 100 Companies to work for. Glassdoor features smaller companies, newer companies, mainly focused on technology and business. Even the companies are younger.
  • Almost ¾ of the reviewers on Glassdoor have been with their company for 3 years or less. That illustrates a mindset of fluid communication ~ new to the company, and already we’re sharing information to our peers (and by “we” I mean “you” if you’re in your 20’s and 30’s).
  • “Users” list comp and benefits as the most important data point; “Reviewers” rank both camaraderie and professional development ahead of benefits.
  • California-based companies are the most reviewed. Only young people live in California.

Yes, I realize it may be a reach based on a relatively small sample, but I think I’m on to something.

My theory? The transparency (or implied transparency) of Glassdoor is still a tough pill for my generation to swallow. We’ll use your data, but we don’t have to trust it. And because we don’t trust it, we don’t see the value in adding to the information – garbage in, garbage out.

To check myself a bit, I asked some of the voices on the nation’s most popular LinkedIn discussion group, “HR Hardball” (verification unavailable). I should note the membership is largely dominated by the Gen X and Boomer generation(s), respectively.:

  • It’s a Tool that is used by Generation y to get a Ballpark figure on what they can ask for in terms of salary.” – Thomas Bartlesen, HRBP, Perim
  • I perused it just the other day. I looked at several companies I am familiar with. The comments were both accurate and inaccurate. I would use the tool to help develop my questions of the company.” – Donn Hermann, Hermann Advantage Consulting
  • You cannot trust individual comments on Glassdoor. One needs to read numerous reviews. If a company has enough comments, reoccurring themes (good or bad) can be found.” – John Bickel, Sr. Compensation Consultant, United Healthcare
  • I use Glassdoor all the time to look at company reviews, salary and interview structure. Everything I read there I take with a grain of salt, but I like to see what people have to say.” – Stephanie DeMars, HR Programs, City of Boise
  • The reviews can be created by anyone so that is even more absurd. Anyone could go to their competitor and pretend to be employees and trash them.

The information is one sided and needs to reviewed and analyzed in context. Reading what some disgruntled employees wrote when the employee may have been the problem doesn’t give an accurate or fair portrayal.” – Beth Carvin, President/CEO, Nobscot Corp.

And one comment from the small but vocal Millennial sect:

  • I’ve used it as an employee and former employee to give warning to others, I mean to give an honest opinion of my experiences.” – Jon Chaffen, Student UT-Dallas

Yep, it’s a random sampling. No validation by PWC or anyone else, so take it for what it’s worth. But what I see is a set of reviews that could be juxtaposed with Wikipedia. I’ll read it, even enjoy it, but I’m not going to quote it.

Methodology: In October 2014, Software Advice collected data and reviews for all employers on Glassdoor with a five-star employee rating. A total of 637 reviews were collected, from which a random sample of 240 reviews were selected in order to maintain a 95 percent confidence level and a confidence interval of five

Welcome to Ferguson

Let’s burn this bitch down.” – Louis Head, step-father to Michael Brown & Ferguson, Missouri citizen.

I’d say that’s a strong-to-quite-strong statement made by Mr. Head. At first blush, like many people, I was appalled and a little bit frightened when I saw the footage. “How could he???” 

Hopefully you’ve kept apprised of events in Ferguson, MO, so a re-hashing of events that led to the current state of unrest is unnecessary, because, honestly – the actual event has become secondary to the reaction that perpetuates.

As you may have noticed from my profile photo, I’m white. In a time where we all walk on eggshells making any racial distinction about ourselves, I say that for one reason only…I don’t completely understand the riots, looting, and mayhem that has taken over in Missouri. Or, more accurately, I can’t completely understand.

It’s not my child, it’s not my neighborhood, and my life’s experiences (and my parents and grandparents’ life experiences, respectively) to this point in no way acclimated me to street rioting. I can’t possibly claim to completely understand the vantage point of the citizens (including law enforcement) of #Ferguson anymore than I can completely understand the events of Tiananmen Square 25 years ago.

Not completely. But I do think we can all understand some of what we are seeing. We understand human suffering; we understand the feeling of betrayal and/or unfairness. We understand feelings of frustration, helplessness, and anger. Where we don’t seem to have a common understanding is the various manifestations those feelings may take.

We each have our own Perspective: Depending on where you stand, the same occurrence can look a hell of a lot different. Everybody has a unique history; a collection of experiences that have shaped their respective being. If you look at Ferguson with disgust or with glee, you may want to check yourself a bit. Not everyone will agree or even remotely understand how you can see something the way you do.

I don’t want to devolve into a catchy allegory about rioting and corporate change; I think it minimizes the pain and heartbreak of those truly impacted by the outcome (and continued outcomes) of the tragic occurrence that cost Michael Brown his life, Darren Wilson his future, and the city of Ferguson much, much more.

But for those of us in Human Resources, it never hurts to remember the responsibility we have when it comes to dealing with human interactions in our respective workplace. Going in with pre-conceived notions may not be our plan, but as fellow humans (opinions may vary) we can’t assume that we have it all figured out based on the view we have through our own lens.

The Pipeline Depends on The Process

Part of being an effective HR Business Partner is expanding your knowledge base to include your internal clients. My buddy Adam Boyd offers some great advice on the challenges faced by selling professionals. I see a lot of similarities in our roles within HR as well…do you?

Differentiating, Acting, and Your Template

In a recent training session, a bright young man, new to sales, asked the best question of the day: “How do we differentiate from our competitors, especially in a crowded field?” My response to him was the same as it is to anyone else in a crowded field: “You, the sales rep, are the differentiator. It’s rarely product, price, or marketing. It’s the questions you ask, and the way you ask them. It’s asking more questions, better questions, tougher questions. It’s listening better than others, and staying in the moment. It’s having a discussion with the prospect that no one else has. It’s not your feature set, or technical expertise (ok, maybe 5% of the time it has to do with this), but the way you can engage that no one else can. Too many reps are too eager to speak, and tell prospects how great their company is, rather than listen, challenge assumptions, and uncover deeper issues.”

We then ran some exercises on listening, asking more and better questions, and changing the conversation. Afterward, almost everyone in the session (there were approximately 28 people there, from a variety of industries) said, “That’s hard work. You really have to stay focused and engaged.” And that is why the rewards are so great for reps who can do just that. It’s difficult, and others don’t want to do it.

Two day Sales Boot Camp, Dec. 10 and 11. Learn the Sandler system and tools to sell more. Email me at

A part-time actor I know was sharing his experience with auditions. He shared that he, too, was on straight commission. “If I get the role, I can make the money that pays rent for two months.” I asked how he handled the uncertainty, the pressure to perform, and the fact that his financial wherewithal depended on those auditions.

“I prepare, I audition, and then I forget about it. I can’t control the outcome after the fact. I start looking for other auditions.”

In short, he keeps a full pipeline and focuses on the process, not the outcome. The answer to many questions we receive from clients is, “Keep a full pipeline.”

  • How do I walk away from a bad deal?
  • How do ask tougher questions? How do I push back?
  • How do I not respond to that RFP/RFQ?
  • What do I do if that big deal doesn’t land?

Keep a full pipe. How many people spend too much time worrying about the sales call or meeting they just had, trying to “get it to close,” when they could be finding the next opportunity?

?Built your sales plan for 2015? Selling enterprise deals? Want exposure to the next level of training? 1.5 day advanced training open only to past boot camp attendees and Sandler-trained professionals. Dec. 17-18. Register now, as seating is limited. 

We recently hosted a Navy SEAL sniper in our management training program. He shared some leadership lessons from his 20 years’ experience with the SEALs. One of the most poignant lessons was the concept of a template. He said, “We have a template to follow in every situation, and clear guidelines on decision-making that we internalize. We follow those and 90% of the time, the decision we need to make is very clear. If someone doesn’t follow the template, we’ll have problems. First, it would be clear who was out of line, and two, we would deal with it immediately after the event. We’d ask why they did what they did, and then make sure it didn’t happen again.  But the template is the key to working successfully again and again and again. It creates predictability out of chaotic and uncertain situations.”

Sound desirable? Creating predictability out of uncertain situations? How would that impact hiring? Managing large opportunities? Forecasting and managing cash cycles?

How many companies have templates that guide them so clearly? For sales process? For hiring? For onboarding new people? For developing managers? For assessing performance? For pipeline management? For accountability? Too many organizations “do it the way we’ve always done it,” or “go with the gut,” or say, “Everyone can always do better, but it’s not that bad.” The result? Persistent frustration on the part of management that the excellence they desire is always a little out of reach.  In short, frustration with being only a little better than mediocre.  The maturing organization needs systems and processes to ensure they have the right people, doing the right things, the right way, at the right time. Yes, it’s work, and it’s time consuming. But that’s also the cost of growth.

To request the whitepaper “The Modern Science of Sales Force Excellence,” email me at

Adam Boyd  P: 512-241-3601