Most people are familiar with the concept of a buyer’s or seller’s market within real estate. Basically, the number of people looking to buy versus sell a home can influence who has the upper hand when it comes to negotiations. Few people, however, recognize that the same concept applies to the workforce as well. The number of available jobs versus job seekers will influence who has the advantage when it comes to negotiating salaries, benefits, and the like.

For the past decade, ever since the recession, the workforce has been an employer’s market. With fewer job positions available, and more job seekers – particularly millennials – graduating from college, many companies have had the advantage of setting lower salaries and having their pick of many qualified candidates. Despite the length of this employer’s market, many industry experts are starting to see a change that businesses need to note.

The economy has been improving steadily in recent years. This has led to more open job positions to accommodate the growing supply of candidates. In short, things are starting to balance out… but that is not all. Many experts believe that as more qualified job seekers find long-term positions, companies are going to start to struggle to find people to fill open positions. In other words, it is quickly becoming an employee’s market.

Companies that do not change their recruitment habits are bound to feel the fallout of this shifting trend. Thankfully, it is not difficult to be more attractive to potential employees. One excellent way is with company events.

What Employees Want

For decades, the Baby Boomer generation has largely dictated workplace culture. Even Gen Xers had to adapt to this culture due to their low numbers. With Millennials now outnumbering both Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, things are changing. More importantly, Millennials have a new set of preferences and standards.

Beyond competitive wages and benefits, the tone of the workplace is changing. There is more demand for work/life balance, more family support like maternity/paternity leave, and more community activities that are inviting to families. Most importantly, there is a greater desire for purpose and meaning. A job is no longer a means to an end to put food on the table. It needs to be fulfilling, special, or unique.

Companies that fail to cater to these changing trends will be at a disadvantage. This is where company events can be effective at changing the workplace environment.

Work/Life Balance

One of the most important expectations to many young job seekers is the balance between work and life. The notion that people must choose between the job and family is dying out in place of workplace culture that either carves out time for the family or embraces their inclusion.

Company events that include the family are a great place to start when making your business more family-friendly. Events like parties are perfect for bringing family members together with coworkers so everyone can have a good time. The trick is to have specific events that are age appropriate for all guests. At the very least, company events should have an assortment of activities, foods, decorations, and other things that appeal to children and adults alike.

Another way to embrace the work/life balance is through workshops and team building exercises that highlight these values. Nothing says a typical team building workshop should be restricted to employees alone. Offering educational workshops to family members is a good way to give people who matter to your employees something valuable: knowledge. This can be rewarding for everyone involved.

Spontaneous Events

Many companies, in light of the drastic changes in the workplace, are struggling to adapt the company culture to fit what new employees expect. Some companies, for example, have thrown out the rule book on everyday business operations altogether. Major corporations are now emphasizing collaborative environments, horizontal management layouts, and a plethora of pool/ping pong tables, espresso machines, and other “fun” additions to the office to provide a different culture.

Unfortunately, adding a metal slide to the office isn’t an option for every company, especially small businesses. The need to accommodate changing expectations, however, is just as real for small players if not more so since empty positions have more pronounced effects on the bottom line. Here again, company events are a good place to influence the existing company culture.

One specific type of event that automatically adds a sense of excitement to the workplace is an unexpected one. In other words, spontaneous events like surprise parties and company picnics provide more excitement out of the everyday, mundane work environment. They offer a break from work and extra time for coworkers to bond. Finally, spontaneity shows employees that the company is willing to change things up to offer them something special.

While these events may seem spontaneous to employees, the key to success is good preparation ahead of time mixed with keeping a secret.If you cannot dedicate at least one or two employees act as the party planner for these events it’s best to hire a professional party planning company. One or two people handling the details will make it easier to keep the secret and make the necessary arrangements.

One key component is frequency. It isn’t enough to have a single surprise party if you need a drastic change in company culture. Instead, shoot for one or two events per month at least. If you have the ability and funds, have smaller events like simple lunches or get togethers once a week or two. The person planning these events should have a schedule so details can be planned ahead of time. For the best results, keep the events simple and easy to manage. You don’t have to plan an extravagant affair each time.

A little bit of dedication and planning goes a long way to making your company appealing to job seekers. Be inclusive and spontaneous with company events to stir things up.