Millennials officially make up the largest slice of today’s workforce and will be 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025. Although employee engagement is on the rise in the U.S., a Gallup study revealed a whopping 31.5 percent of millennials still top the charts as the least engaged at work. Why?
Research has shown that millennials tend to job hop, not because they want to go through the interview process once a year—but because they lack inspiration and growth opportunities. Instead of focusing on the turnover issue, focus on what your millennials are looking for when they change jobs.
Millennials are after something, and it isn’t money
Though millennials carry an average of $45,000 in debt (thanks to the exponential cost of college education), you won’t win on promotions and salary alone. To most Gen Y workers, the corporate ladder is meaningless; instead, they want a lattice.
Deloitte’s 2015 Millennial Survey showed the Gen Y workforce is excited about leadership—but not about climbing rungs. Instead, they value inspiration and transparency when acting as leaders or when following them. The survey reports that millennials want employers with a sense of purpose; this creates a triple bottom line—people, planet, and profit.
In other words, they want careers that can function as catalysts for the greater good. This lack of a money-driven mindset makes it harder for companies to entice and retain hires with high salaries, juicy commission structures, and other financial motivators. Hence, the need for intangible perks.
The antidote to their wanderlust? Learning and development
The opportunity to use skills and abilities is a large part of employee satisfaction, but most companies have yet to master growth and leadership enablement. A 2014 Bersin report found only five percent of companies say they have a strong leadership program for their millennials. Organizations that offer great learning opportunities (not just compliance or job-related training, but real means for growth) can improve employee engagement, and ultimately, retention. Here are a few companies who are getting it right:
General Motors Corporation – As one of the largest corporate education programs in the world, General Motors Learning (GML) has 14 colleges that enable employees to learn in the classroom or online. This investment in learning is paying off in spades, with the company scoring the fifth-lowest turnover rate in 2013, according to a PayScale report.
Google – Notorious for topping the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list (with 2015 being the sixth consecutive year), Google has some really great reasons why. Ninety-four percent of its employees feel they have adequate training, much thanks to Grow. This internal platform, which helps employees take control of their own training and development, includes a library of courses, job opportunities, and one-on-one advice.
Johnson & Johnson – This industry giant implemented a generational affinity group called Millennials to build an atmosphere of learning, leadership, and mentoring for its Gen Yers while also giving insight for older generations into millennial coworkers and consumers. Opening up intergenerational dialogue is a great way to establish a culture of respect and fluidity in the workplace.
Though there can be some tension between Generation X and Generation Y, the desire for both traditional and reverse (younger teaching older) mentorship is almost matched at over 70 percent. For instance, millennials can learn from the values and experiences of their seniors while their tech-savviness can help elder team members navigate new tools.
Keep your MVPs in the game
Good retention is not all about keeping bottoms in seats, but about keeping your best workers committed to your company. Your HR reps know all too well that there are many other factors that contribute to turnover rates, like hiring decisions and retiring employees. Don’t make lack of growth and inspiration one of them.
If you don’t know what your employees want, don’t wait until the exit interview to find out. Establishing regular check-ins between annual performance reviews will give them the frequent feedback they need and help you understand needs and desires. And there’s no need to set aside three-hour discussions every week. Instead, use surveys, keep an open dialog, and be transparent about your own goals and experiences.
Like General Motors, Google, and Johnson & Johnson, an internal dialogue about “what else is out there?” can build affinity for what’s inside your own doors. And though they may not be committing to a tattoo with your logo on it, you can keep your millennials around longer with an attractive corporate culture and opportunities for growth and training.
Still want more? Download our ebook "Working With Millennials: An Informative Guide." You can thank us later.