The millennial workforce is plagued by stereotypes – they’re referred to as lazy, having a false sense of entitlement, accused of not working hard enough, considered to demand promotions too readily, and the big one; they’re tarred with the brush of being disloyal.
Whilst we’re not suggesting we support these stereotypes, there is significant evidence relating to the theme of loyalty. According to Deloitte, 44% of millennials anticipate leaving their current role in the next two years. This presents a huge challenge for many businesses, as millennials will soon represent the largest share of the labour market.
These are the thoughts and takeaways from a Reward & Mobility Think Tank held on Tuesday 7th November, hosted by UBS’s HR team. This Think Tank sought to discuss the topic of “Incentivising and Retaining the Millennial Workforce”.
There are many underlying reasons pertaining to why this population appears disloyal. Millennials want work with a purpose and they want their job to fit their life. For millennials, gone are the days of arriving to work, logging in your eight hours, and clock-watching until the workday has finished. If a millennial feels underutilised at work or that they’re not growing in their current job role, he/she will seek an alternative opportunity. This mentality change may be fuelled by the fact that employees are confident in their ability to find work — whether it’s by choice or as a result of being laid off. 63% of surveyed millennials believe it is “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that they would find a job as good as the one they have if they were let go — that’s a 21% increase from those who said the same in 2010. This leads us to ask the following questions:
- Do millennials feel that they have the experience they need before they have truly gained it?
- Why treat millennials any different to other employees?
Are Millennials any different or is there an Underlying Change in the Workplace?
Millennials were raised with instant access to the latest technologies. Being the most connected generation in history, millennials are using what they know to change the workforce status quo. The millennial mentality is to empower people, focus on core strengths, and to turn passion into productivity. Although there are arguable differences between millennials and other generations, the truth is, there are many similarities as well. For one, it’s not just millennials that have looked for new job roles after only one year of employment. This therefore begs the question – are millennials the ones to blame for the changing status quo or are we experiencing an overarching change in the workplace?
That being said, there seems to be some obvious differences that millennials expect when joining the workforce and leads us to consider the following when assessing how we retain this segment of the employee population:
- Millennials can be expensive and require additional time, money, etc. yet their loyalty is arguably low – how do we turn this on its head?
- Do we create roles that have more of a project approach so the challenges change every 6/12/18 months or in larger organisation rotations?
- Can we set up projects within other organisations to reignite someone’s hunger?
- What are the drivers for millennials from a total reward and benefits package perspective?
- Do we need to evolve benefits so the longer term options are removed?
- The super-motivated will always leave to build their own empire; however, most want a more fluid approach to their work, the environment, and how they control their own destiny and earnings.
- Do we offer the same benefits for all from day one?
- Do we offer a selection of benefits as people have different drivers and needs that change as they mature and grow?
- Benefits need to have a short-term gain but something that will tie them in and hold them longer.
In addition to creating customised benefits packages to incentivise millennials to stay in their roles longer, there are some behavioural differences that are also applicable to this group. Millennials expect regular feedback from their managers and respond well to detailed development plans. Whilst it’s argued that this group are more ‘demanding’ than previous generations, is there really anything wrong with wanting feedback and development?
Hiring Apprentices over Graduates
A large cross-section of the millennial population falls into the ‘recent graduate camp’ and with graduates prone to changing jobs every two years, businesses need to identify their best strategies to either retain these employees, or otherwise find a new niche to attract – for instance apprentices. Below we ponder some of the assumptions and reoccurring themes attributed to graduates:
- Graduates often come with heavy debt, which could be a factor in their work mentality.
- The thought is that they need to force their career forward to make more money and ultimately pay off their debt.
- Graduates often have a different thinking pattern and feel they have ‘mastered’ their specialism in 18 months.
- Millennials complete a project and then think “where is my promotion”? There’s an obvious sense of entitlement.
Millennial Tool Kit: Devising Strategies to Retain Millennials
For millennials to succeed, businesses need to change how they engage and interact with their employees, through:
- Personal development programmes
- Creating development milestones met with shares / career rewards
- Making communications more regular, bite-sized, branded, and visually engaging
- Approachability by being visible (weekly newsletter, blog, etc.)
- Personal development outside of work (charitable day)
- Asking millennials what they look for in their career – what do they want?
- Treat people as individuals without labelling everyone – there is no one-size-fits-all
- The world moves faster and millennials are moving with it
- Encourage millennials to own their careers – respect them just as we respect all other generations
- Millennials are not a threat but rather an opportunity
- Acknowledge the need to invest in millennials’ personal development
- Create clear career paths that are mapped out with obvious objectives and goals, potentially set out as projects with 6/12/18 month phases