Who better embodies the old mantra — "change is the only constant in life" — in today's workplace than Millennials? The twenty-something demographic, which is projected to make up 36 percent of the American workforce by 2014, tends to baffle their older counterparts: how to talk to them, how to work with them, and how they are transforming everything the workplace has held sacred. Currently on the list of Millennial disruptions? The nine-to-five workday.
According to a recent study ("The Cost of Millennial Retention" by Millennial Branding and Beyond.com), Millennials are so against a rigid clock-in, clock-out schedule at work that nearly half (48 percent) of the companies surveyed are focusing heavily on "workplace flexibility" in order to retain Gen Y talent. Forbes reports that 45 percent of workforce Millennials would opt for flex-time over higher pay.
The Millennial theme here is simple: Money means less, culture means more. How much more? Thirty percent of surveyed companies have lost 15 percent or more of their Gen Y employees in the past year. So how can employers find ways to turn those trends around? Here are some insights that may help keep an organization's young talent sticking around:
The Millennial Branding study suggests that second to workplace flexibility as a retention tactic, many companies (40 percent of those surveyed) are also investing in mentorship programs. Mentorship is an important factor for Millennials. According to nonprofit career community Net Impact, 87 percent of current college students (as opposed to 78 percent of current workers) say that the ability to learn and grow is very important or essential to their job ideals. It's important to note that Millennials aren't looking for the traditional (of course) hierarchical type of mentorship, but simply a relationship with a trusted colleague from whom they can learn.
"A lot of mentoring programs have failed as they have tried to put structure to something that is basically a relationship," writes Jeanne Meister, author of "The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow's Employees Today" in InvestmentNews. "Mentoring and coaching is an important form of development."
Greater Purpose > Great Benefits
If it isn't clear by now, make sure this assumption is hard-wired into your HR organization: Traditional benefits are no longer enough to keep Millennials. According to the HR professionals surveyed, just 14 percent of Millennials inquire about healthcare options during the interview process. Money and traditional perks also take a back seat when compared to overall purpose at a job. Nearly three-fourths of students — opposed to roughly half of all workers — report that having "a job where I can make an impact" is essential to their overall happiness.
"The Millennial generation has learned to be two things during the recession — resilient and nomadic," explains Rich Milgram, founder and CEO of Beyond.com. "As the job market improves, the level of confidence will improve along with it and cause many in this age group to reevaluate their current situation, possibly seeing value in seeking greener pastures."
Build a Great Social Enterprise, or Else
Millennials don't view the "work-life balance" debate the same way as Gen X or Boomers. (Not exactly a shocker there.) Why? Their intense interaction with social media has changed the game. Employers who can find ways to embrace and leverage social media in the enterprise will hold significant competitive advantages over competitors that don't. Be open with Millennials on social media. And lean into social media platforms to engage: Gen Ys are generally more comfortable (38 percent) making social media introductions than managers (19 percent).
"Gen Ys are crucial to the development and growth of our economy," explains Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding. "Yet managers have a negative impression of them and it’s creating workplace drama. Managers should be setting proper expectations, giving them career support and help them develop the skills they will need today and in the future."
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How to keep your employees from jumping ship
Learning. Empathy. Advancement. Purpose (LEAP). The key to retaining employees, especially in times of low unemployment, lies in building a company culture based on these four words. Low unemployment means that employees are in the driver's seat, choosing the jobs they want and jumping ship for better opportunities when they come along. Job openings are plentiful and employees have a lot of choice in front of them.
How to Retain Great Talent
In the face of changing technology, uncertain economies, and ever-increasing competition, organizations must not only be able to recruit great talent but retain great talent. Many go-to retention strategies face challenges in a time of talent shortages and historically low unemployment. HR leaders must find new ways to continually engage and retain employees, especially as research shows that nearly half of employees are perpetually on the lookout for a different job.1 How can organizations retain employees who seem to find new opportunities everywhere they look?
4 Tips to Attract and Retain Global Talent
Far from a one-size-fits-all approach, global hiring requires cultural context and awareness. Companies recruiting in Brazil, for instance, should emphasize corporate social responsibility in their messaging. But in China, they’ll want to highlight their firm’s prestige, according to research from E&Y. As multinational companies look to attract and retain talent in emerging markets, they’ll need to tailor overarching business strategies to local talent’s needs and wants.