technology

Understanding Millennial Employees’ Benefits Needs

By Thomas Broderick

In 2019, millennials became the largest living generation in the United States. Their ages range from 19 to 37, and overall, they possess many liberal economic and social views. On the job, they want to apply their talents toward producing meaningful work.

Economically, most millennials lag behind the previous two generations (e.g., generation X and baby boomers) due to the “Great Recession” that began in late 2007. This two-year recession and the long recovery stunted many millennials’ career opportunities and salary potential. The recession’s lingering effects have a continued impact on millennials’ earning power.

When considering these challenges under a benefits microscope, two words come to mind: stability and opportunity.

In this article, we’ll explore both traditional and voluntary benefits that appeal to millennials. We’ll also consider how millennials’ benefits needs might change in the coming years.

What Young Families Want

Although millennials differ from other generations, they still value traditional benefits packages. Millennial employees are marrying and starting families, meaning that they put a priority on careers that offer good medical and life insurance policies. Both provide young families – many of which are still adjusting to new financial realities – the knowledge that sickness or death will not cripple them financially.

Yes, millennials greatly appreciate traditional benefits, but their generation also values their families’ well-being over all else, including their employers or careers. This desire to provide their spouses and children with the best quality of life makes it easier for millennials to switch companies if they can attain a better benefits package.

For this reason, companies are offering voluntary benefits to attract and retain employees. Let’s look at some of the voluntary benefits that align with millennial employees’ short- and long-term needs.

The Best Voluntary Benefits for Millennials

Millennials, whether they have families or not, generally want a voluntary benefits package that boasts flexibility, encourages peace of mind, includes their family, and promotes personal fulfillment outside the office.

  • Gym Memberships: Gym memberships represent an excellent supplement to a traditional health insurance policy. Exercise not only improves health, but many people report that it also affects mental well-being. Also, as gym memberships can extend to family members, healthy spouses and children translate into happier employees who can focus on their work better.
  • Financial Literacy: Financial literacy resources can include courses at your job site, apps, and other online tools. If your company adopts financial literacy courses as a voluntary benefit, choose a service that emphasizes 529 plans (i.e., college-savings plans), retirement savings, and student loan repayment strategies. These services best match millennials’ most pressing needs.
  • Additional Paid Time Off: In recent years, companies have used unlimited PTO as a way to attract highly-trained professionals. With more time off, employees can spend more time with their families and feel higher loyalty toward their employers.  Even if your company does not offer employees additional vacation days, ensure that employees feel safe in taking time off.
  • myKlovr Virtual College Counseling: MyKlovr has developed a first-of-its-kind virtual counseling service to assist high school students and their families navigate college admissions. Students receive personalized advice that helps them improve their chances of college admissions success.

Looking to the Future

Although millennials’ children will not enter high school for a few years,  the myKlovr employee benefit can be extended to siblings or even nieces and nephews who are in need of specialized tools to help them gain admission to a good college or university. We at myKlovr also believe that this benefit can be extended to workers who may have taken time-off from studying after high school,  and are currently employed but enroll in college.

Our program works by asking students a series of questions concerning their academic achievement, extracurricular activities, and college preferences. MyKlovr turns this information into success goals that students can achieve throughout high school. If students meet these goals, they can obtain letters of admission from the colleges and universities that myKlovr recommends. We call these recommendations a College Match. In fact, if none of a student’s College Match schools admit the student, we gladly refund the entire subscription fee (terms and conditions apply). That’s how confident we are in myKlovr’s ability to help high school students attend college.

Final Thoughts

Whether through fitness incentives, financial literacy courses, PTO, or myKlovr, your company can attract and retain millennial employees by offering voluntary benefits that match their evolving needs.

How Artificial Intelligence Can Help You Get Into College

By myKlovr

The College Process is Similar to Starting a Business

Much like starting a business, getting into the school of your choice requires a plan which extends beyond good grades. A successful college strategy includes how well you utilize resources. Resources include people, tools, information, Technology, and much more.

Entrepreneurs know that it can be a struggle to compete with larger companies with more resources. This situation requires that the entrepreneur think and operate creatively, which is beneficial. The ability to leverage existing resources more effectively (and in new and imaginative ways) can provide an advantage.

Technology: the Resource that you need to be using 

What is an accessible resource that students can be leveraging Right Now? If you guessed Technology, then you are correct.

Students can proactively use Artificial Intelligence (AI). As described by Techopedia, “Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans.[i]

AI enables machine learning; machines are taught from experience and can adapt to new information and complete jobs. The Statistical Analysis System (SAS) Institute points out that “[m]ost AI examples that you hear about today – from chess-playing computers to self-driving cars – rely heavily on deep learning and natural language processing. Using these technologies, computers can be trained to accomplish specific tasks by processing large amounts of data and recognizing patterns in the data.[ii]

How can AI be leveraged during the college admission process? 

Well, the ability to process large amounts of data and recognize patterns means that computers can do much more than predict a chess move or drive a car. AI can make valuable predictions and suggestions relating to the college admission process.

For instance, Technology has introduced virtual platforms and mobile applications that play the role of a personalized guidance counselor. A personal college counselor is of particular interest for the majority of high school students who do not have readily available access to college advisors. College advisors are a crucial part of the college admissions process, providing students with the insight and information needed to make critical decisions.

Common questions include:

  • “How do I choose a college?”
  • “What are my chances of getting into my dream school?”
  • “What can I do to increase my chances of getting into college?”
  • “Once I get in, how will I be able to afford college tuition?”

Tools that combine AI and data science can answer these essential student questions, and the best part is that AI-based college counseling platforms and websites provide personalized consulting at any time. The suggestions provided by these tools are based on extensive data sets, including personalized information provided by the users. Platforms combine the experience of multiple guidance counselors into a cohesive individualized plan.

5 Examples of How You can use a Virtual Counselor Right Now

AI-based virtual counseling platforms can instantaneously help you to:

  1. Find colleges that are a strong fit for you and meet your needs.
  2. Develop a list of safety schools.
  3. Receive guidance on how to get into the schools of your choice.
  4. Learn about available college financing solutions and how to use them.
  5. Plan and execute the activities necessary to complete the college application process.

What’s Next?

Whether you’re a parent or a student, it’s a smart strategy to learn more about AI-based virtual counseling platforms and similar solutions. These can be a helpful supplemental resource to assist with making more informed decisions and start students on a path to success!

[i] “What is Artificial Intelligence.” N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Jul. 2019 https://www.techopedia.com/definition/190/artificial-intelligence-ai

[ii] “Artificial Intelligence – What It Is And Why It Matters | Sas.” N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Jul. 2019 https://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/analytics/what-is-artificial-intelligence.htm.

Should Parents Limit How Much Time Children Spend on Tech Devices?

By Kendell Shaffer

Balance is the most important thing when raising teenagers. They are at the point in life where they want to make their own decisions. They think they know what is best. But they really don’t. So in maintaining a peaceful household, I find compromise and balance to be essential. I’m not one for punishment, I let my teens know the parameters and hope they make the best decisions.

But decisions on tech devices are tricky. That was never an issue when I was a kid since there were none. But I did watch a lot of television. Probably too much, but I had a career in TV so I like to think all those years watching was good training. As an adult, I know I spend way too much time on tech devices and find I need to limit myself. I recently cut out Facebook and all my social media for a month. It was a breath of fresh air. After two days picking up my phone, with nothing to do on it because I had deleted all social media apps, I realized how addicted I’d become to the phone.

Soon I reflected more, read more, jotted ideas down in a journal I kept with me. I listened to podcasts when I had time to kill and then put a newspaper app on my phone and read more articles during downtime. I don’t think it would have been fair of me to limit my son’s device time if I hadn’t limited my own.

But it’s hard to tell a seventeen-year-old what they can and can’t do. So I make suggestions and hope he listens. And I knew I needed alternatives to offer him. So I brought up drawing pads for him to draw on, pulled out an old guitar, and plugged in the keyboard. I noticed as these creative outlets were in the living room; he’d pick those up instead of his phone.

Children learn by example, we all do, so I knew I needed to set my example. I recall once when my daughter was about five and I was online looking for new toys for her. She came up and said, “Mommy, I don’t want new toys. I want you to play with me.” I kind of think this still applies. They don’t really want to be online; they want us to play with them. Although they won’t admit that, try it and see what happens. You might surprise each other.

Does Technology Get in the Way of Learning?

By Kendell Shaffer

I think the phone and social media definitely impedes learning. But nowadays some kids are required to bring a phone to school. My son uses it as a calculator, to look things up in class, and to take photos of class assignments. All of his homework is assigned and uploaded on the school’s specific website. They track his grades on that site and post school announcements there. In his Spanish class he uses a program called Quizlet and in math sometimes he’s assigned a Khan Academy video to watch.

But it’s the social media that is a problem. Not only can apps like Instagram and Snapchat become addicting, they can also lead to depression and bullying. What’s worse than seeing your friends post pictures from a party you weren’t invited to? And texting can take up so much time.

I once taught a two week writing workshop where a shy girl sat in the front row and looked into her lap each class. She didn’t do one bit of writing or respond to questions. I worried about her. When I looked closer, I saw she was texting the entire time. I approached her and tried to engage her about her texts. Texting is writing after all. And since I was teaching a screenwriting class, I equated texting to dialogue. She was writing her side of a conversation. Since she did not care if she would pass this class or not, I felt challenged to engage her. But after, she still didn’t care and continued to text until the bell rang never turning in an assignment.

Some schools are talking about banning phones from classrooms. Our local middle school hangs shoe organizers with pockets that keep cell phones safe during class and out of the student’s hands. This sounds like a great idea and I’d like to implement it in my house.

I watched a lot of television as a kid and I try to equate the phone usage with that. But My television didn’t go everywhere with me and I didn’t have it in my bedroom at night. My biggest gripe with the phones are that they aren’t allowing our children to have any downtime. Or to daydream or to spend a moment without stimulation. It’s always there within thumbs reach.

I hope the technology will one day be boring for kids. I hope they only go to the computer to look up something or to learn. But for now, I can only hope they come up for air once in a while.

There’s a Cowboy College? Rope Me In!

By Kendell Shaffer

Vanity Fair recently wrote a piece about Deep Springs College, but I had heard about this school years ago. Deep Springs is a small two-year college that takes only thirteen boys a year and guides them through an intellectual and physical journey. It’s tuition free and the students pay for their room and board by working on a cattle ranch. They are taught by professors from Yale and Berkely and most often transfer to an Ivy League university for their junior and senior years. And only the students who score within the top one percent on the SAT’s will get in.

Elite cowboy training. So what’s the point?

Founder, Lucien Lucius Nunn in 1923 said, “The desert has a deep personality; it has a voice. Great leaders in all ages have sought the desert and heard its voice. You can hear it if you listen, but you cannot hear it while in the midst of uproar and strife for material things.”

Deep Springs trains leaders and thinkers. According to Vanity Fair, some include, “ambassador to the United Nations William J. vanden Heuvel; famed CBS newsman Charles Collingwood; Virginia congressman Jim Olin; top internet entrepreneurs and edgy novelists William Vollmann and Peter Rock.”

The combination of nature and academics rings true to some of the values of a Waldorf education. My kids went to Waldorf schools, so Deep Springs resonated with me. With so much technology in these kids’ lives, working with their hands on the land seems more important than ever. Teens being constantly plugged in, the days of day dreaming are over.

To spend two years in the dessert unplugged with blue horizons to read and think and wonder could be the best thing for our kids. So how come there aren’t more schools like Deep Springs out there?

With some digging I found College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. A small college of 350 students with an emphasis on human-ecology which is, “the investigation of the relations between humans and their environments.”

Here’s a list of the Best Outdoor Schools in America. Although none of them except, College of the Atlantic, come close to Deep Creek.

I know Deep Springs will not be on my son’s college list, but it does make me think that perhaps he should look elsewhere besides a city school. I’m wondering if there might be summer programs that can supply him with a similar experience. If nothing else, it has inspired me to take my kids on a long hike in the hills this afternoon. We’ll unplug for awhile and talk about ideas. And maybe I’ll hint at a college not surrounded by skyscrapers.

Technology in the Classroom: What Teachers Need to Know

By Thomas Broderick

In the last two decades, technology has drastically changed the educational experience. From computers to smartphones, teachers and students have access to some of the most powerful teaching tools on the planet.

However, using these tools the ‘right’ way is a complicated and somewhat controversial subject. Some teachers are virulently anti-technology, as they see devices as distractions. And it is not just older teachers who hold this view. At the beginning of my teaching career, I saw technology as a hindrance rather than a benefit. Looking back, much of that belief stemmed from my teacher education. The former teachers educating me never had a student with a smartphone or laptop.

So how should teachers adapt? Let Google teach students? Ban cell phones? The answer, as you might expect, is in the middle. Though there is no ‘right’ way to use technology in the classroom, there is a fine line that teachers must walk if students are going to gain the maximum benefit from using technology as an educational tool.

Students Have the Tools, but Not the Skills

As a new teacher, I tried to keep my classroom cellphone-free. Students texting caused me endless frustration. Taking up phones always caused large rifts between me and students. I provided them no guidance other than negative reinforcement.

Looking back, the problem was that I did not recognize that students lack the skills to responsibly use their technology. Since I did not grow up with smartphones or texting, I could not use life experience to help students use their technology responsibility. Fortunately, there came a moment when I realized the new role modern teachers must adopt: technology Sherpa.

Guiding Your Students

Even if you, like me, did not grow up with a smartphone or laptop computer, you can still model how to appropriately and productively use technology in the classroom. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Start with Google. In other words, start with what students already know. Maybe it’s having them look up a picture for history class, a short story for English, or examples of Renaissance frescos for art class. Verbally praise students who stay on task.
  • Redefine Your Classes’ Relationship with Technology. This advice works particularly well for teachers who are known for taking up students’ phones. When a student finds something of value (e.g. a picture) with his or her phone, ask permission to (temporarily) take up their phone and show the image to the class before returning the phone to the student. This action shows that you both recognize their work and respect their property.

Going Deeper

  • Integrate the Use of Technology into Lessons: Even when going deeper with technology, it always pays to start small. If you are planning to do a station activity, for example, have one station ask students to use a smartphone (or a provided computer) to research certain information.
  • Use Educational Apps: Educational apps aren’t just for elementary school-aged students. For example, there are many apps that can help high school students improve their SAT scores.
  • If Possible, Make Technology a Key Component of Students’ Classroom Experience: If your school is lucky enough to have one-to-one technology, consider using technology as an integral part of your lessons. For example, an Algebra II teacher could have students use Khan Academy during each lesson. Students would review topics and perform practice problems on their computers before tackling the teacher’s formative or summative assessment.
    • When it comes to assessments, there’s no need to break out the pencils. Google Apps/Docs has many tools teachers can adopt to create a paper-free classroom.

Mentoring New (and Experienced) Teachers

If you successfully redefine your classes’ relationship with technology, you can still do much to help other teachers. Teacher education programs, even the best ones, tend to neglect the role of technology in the classroom. And even if they taught these skills, the evolution of technology would still outpace their advice. Here are some things you can do to help all teachers navigate technology in the classroom:

  • Have New Teachers Observe Your Class: Invite a new teacher to observe how your class uses technology. Not only will they pick up some new skills, this experience will also help you form a stronger professional relationship.
  • Present Your Best Practices to the Entire Faculty: Another idea is to address the entire faculty during a staff meeting or professional development day. This way you will be able to distill your classes’ positive relationship with technology into a presentation from which all teachers can learn.

Final Thoughts

Technology has the potential to radically transform education, that is, if you let it. Finding a balance between technology and traditional teaching methods will require time, hard work, and a few mistakes along the way. But the results are worth it. Your students will have learned a set of skills that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

Back to Top