ENGAGING AND RETAINING MILLENNIAL TALENT

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A leader I met over coffee recently asked me: “What the…..is going on with Millennials and their job hopping and relentless requests?” With a degree of empathy and sincerity to my response “Yep, it’s not my problem as I don’t have to manage them or often recruit them!”

However, on the way back to the office it struck me that it’s not about it being a problem or not (for others or me). Nearly half of the world’s workforce will be millennials by next year and by 2030 it will be a staggering 75%. This change in the workforce composition plays a big part in disruption for businesses, leaders and impacts on consumer expectations. They are the core employees (and purchasers) they have very different characteristic and motivations than those from the earlier generations. Their motivations are more focused on personal values and aspirations and those of us who are over 38 are must understand this and adapt our approach and expectations accordingly.

Millennials have a reputation for job-hopping. They move freely from company to company and it costs $billions annually. A company will spend many $000’s for one employee alone for their salary, onboarding, equipment, training and wellness benefits; yet their employee may leave after a short period of time, sometimes without even delivering a return on the investment that was made by the company

After conducting some research, it appears that only 28% of millennials plan to stay with a company beyond five years and a staggering 43% stay for only 2 years. Many of them convey they really don’t want to switch employers. However, their companies are not giving them a reason to stay. One of the main reasons why they are leaving is low engagement in the workplace. According to the study by Gallup, only 29% of this generation are emotionally and behaviorally connected at their work while another 16% are actively disengaged. These disengaged employees will soon have a negative effect on the company (and it’s results). They are just showing up in your office for attendance and to be compensated but once a better opportunity comes they will surely grab it.

The millennial workforce doesn’t see a future with their current employer so they leave, and every company must understand how to attract and retain this generation in order to get the best outcomes for and from them. After consulting with a few great leaders of large teams (whose demographics are comprised of predominantly mid-late 20’s and early-mid 30’s workforces) some interesting themes came out that I thought I’d share:

Provide Regular Feedback

Millennials’ are very proactive and they always want to know whether they are doing the right thing or not. They want to know if they are having an impact. That is why they are very eager to constantly get feedback. Don’t wait for the quarter or annual performance evaluation that might be too late for your employees. Because millennials, as soon as they know that they are not performing based on the expected results will generally take initiative to change their way of work and create a new strategy – or leave. They feel more engaged the more their leader gives them feedback. It not only increases their level of engagement but also their performance. Giving feedback to millennials doesn’t always have to be formal or in a closed-door meeting. A simple message via technology platforms like “You did great, keep up the work!” or checking on them like “How’s the workload so far?” whenever you bump into each other in the elevator or kitchen, think about a variety of ways to give them feedback. 

Flexibility

Millennials are expert multitaskers. They do not want to be tied to the old 8am to 5pm office schedule. They don’t care about the work location or the hours spent inside the office, they care about the results. They see time as phases of productivity. Some prefer to work early morning and others late in the night. For them, it’s kind of ‘on’ and ‘off ‘peak clock.  As long as they can finish the deliverables they want to work from their home or any time of the day or how long did they spend working. Technology has evolved making it very possible to offer work remotely. This is the Work-Life Balance that they are looking for. Offering flexible working hours and the opportunity to work from home also builds trust between the employee and the leader / company. Why hire that person in the first place if you cannot trust her/him? Allowing them to be flexible is only a sign that you trust them and it also motivates them.

Career advancement

Millennials want a future-proof career. They want to know what more can the company offer them when it comes to their work experience and skillset. Like, how long will they stay in their current role? After learning everything in their position, where can they go next? Is it possible to transfer them to other departments for new experiences? Millennials can shift their gears as they also change their priorities. They also tend to be motivated by a dynamic and flexible positions. They are very interested in jobs that allows them to meet interesting people and gain new experiences. Their career path should offer the wide range of opportunities. Think more about horizontal rather than vertical promotions. Leaders can assign them to new projects or tasks as a way of giving them an opportunity for learning and development.

It’s not all about the Money

It is not because they don’t give value to money, but because they also want to explore and maximise their non-cash benefits. This means, allowing people to convert their monetary benefits or bonuses to something like travel, grooming, gadget, discounts or additional days off and other things that are trending for them. Giving back to your employees, being generous to them makes them feel that the company appreciates them and they are being rewarded because they perform well.

Do not remove technology access

Millennials grew up in the era where technology and social media becomes part of people’s everyday life such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram. It is said that up to 56% of millennials would turn down a job that will deny them access to these social medias. Companies instead should take advantage of this, they could learn from the technology skills of millennials. For those of “us” just using email and Facebook, millenials see those modes of communication as we now see the Fax Machine and Betamax!

Build an employee-centric work culture

Millennials are attracted to companies with a culture that is similar to their lifestyle. They should feel that aside from the money, the company can also offer something that is worthwhile. Less corporate attire, cool working space, perhaps board games or other activities that they can do inside the office to release stress, happy hours, lunches, sport events, etc. are all ways for your employees to interact and feel more connected with your company. Having other activities that will also strengthen their humanity like volunteering helping with CSR initiatives or any other activities that will foster meaningful work for them are also great ways to keep your employees.

Realistically, what millennials are asking from their employers are not that irrational or grand. Their arrival in the workforce might sometimes feel challenging, but it’s also a great opportunity for senior leaders and businesses to learn – after all, they are also their customers and brand ambassadors! They are the future leaders of the companies hence we should understand how we are going to continue to attract and retain millennials and make adjustments as necessary.