Change isn’t just coming; it’s here. If you are not actively and intentionally focusing on your younger employees–you’re losing valuable ground.
While our clients are entrepreneurs and C-suite business leaders, lately I am finding myself being approached more and more often by young professionals just starting out in their careers–Millennials. They meet me as I’m conducting training or working on a consulting project in the company where they are employed or when I’m serving on a business council or as a guest speaker. Some of them are nieces and nephews or cousins or relatives by marriage in my big ol’ Texas family. Some are friends of my adult children or the adult children of my clients.
I love meeting them and hearing their dreams. They want to make a difference in life AND in YOUR business, but they are coming to me for advice because they have decided to change jobs. The frustration and discouragement they are feeling breaks my heart for them. These are bright, passionate, hard-working people. The fact that they are all–and I mean 100% of the ones I know–actively looking to leave good jobs with some really great companies–alarms me. “I really like the people and the company,” they almost all tell me, “but . . . “
The “but” is one of four things:
- What I’m doing isn’t valued or isn’t meaningful.
- There is no real (or quick) opportunity for advancement or growth.
- What I’m doing isn’t what I was recruited to do and doesn’t use my strengths/training
- I’m stuck in a work space with a rigid schedule regardless of whether it’s productive
Just like Forbes, Gallop, PWC and a myriad of other sources of info tell us, these young professionals are very different from the generation of employees that they are quickly replacing. As fast as the percentage of employees who are Boomers is dwindling, the percentage of employees who are Millennials is growing. In less than 2 years, Millennials will account for 50% or more of the global workforce (Millennials at Work: Reshaping the Workplace by PwC). If the predictions are correct, in just 2 years, your staff will be 50% (or more) Millennials.
If we don’t change our approach as leaders and managers, if we don’t change our culture, if we don’t change how we make our employees feel–half of our staff will be looking for another job almost the minute we hire them.
The good news? The official research and my own interactions with Millennials tells us that more than 8 of 10 Millennials want to work and want to stay with your company–IF you will do just a few things:
- Get to know them; let them get to know you & the leadership team.
- Honor the “deal” you promised.
- Give real (quick) opportunities for advancement and growth.
- Be flexible whenever possible.
- Provide mentorship & feedback–often.
- Let them make (and help you make) an impact, to do something that matters.
As you read the list above, if you are like me and most of my colleagues who are over 40, you probably thought, “Who doesn’t want that?” The difference is that Millennials don’t just want it, they will change jobs until they find it–even, and especially, the ones who have the skills, emotional intelligence, and confidence that you really want to keep.
As unemployment hovers at 4% (and is forecast to fall to 3.3% in 2019) and more than 10,000 baby boomers retire every day, we must turn our focus more than ever to constantly recruiting, hiring well, engaging intentionally and proactively managing our younger employees. (Interestingly these are the same 4 steps we have proven will help businesses become employers of choice!)
Employees are undeniably our most valuable asset. We are losing 10,000 of our most experienced and loyal employees every day. Within 2 years, 50% of our employees will be younger than 38, Millennials. And, while more than 80% of them want to stay with our companies, they are already actively looking for another job. Why? because they want to engage with their bosses more, receive the deal they were promised, have opportunities to grow and advance, have flexibility, get more feedback, and to do something that really matters.
Why aren’t we doing those 6 things? All of them benefit our companies and help us become more profitable. Knowing one another better increases productivity and decreases turnover. Keeping our commitments builds loyalty and credibility–and, should they really have to ask? Giving opportunities for employees to learn and grow, grows our their abilities to serve our clients and our company. Being flexible with work schedules whenever possible builds loyalty and lets us respond more effectively to deadlines and challenges. Giving more feedback heads off problems, improves skills, and builds synergy. Doing something that matters–well, isn’t that what our businesses are all about?
Focusing on younger team members doesn’t just help us keep good employees, it opens the path to dynamic growth for our business.