What Employees Really Want

In one of the most highly competitive job markets ever, you would think that less attention may be paid to what employees want from their prospective employers as companies may feel they can be more selective.

However, this is NOT THE CASE. Our world is focused on transparency, yet real views on what is desired from a workplace are evolving as Millennials become the predominant force in the marketplace. People are ready to carve out the workplace of their future with a new zest.  While it may be difficult to pin down and accurately label Millennials [many have tried], one thing is clear: Boomers & Millennials want both many similar and different things from a job at the same time. A recent study asked Millennials and Boomers what they were seeking in a first job. Believe it or not, Boomers were more apt to search for job opportunities that paid well or had an opportunity to learn new skills while a majority of Millennials sought out positions they found enjoyable or felt made a difference. Nonetheless, our research shows both groups are now looking for it all.  There has also been a lot of chatter about Millennials being the purpose-driven generation – their need for a mission. Yet, Millennials like money too and overbroad categorization creates problems that persist. So you ask, what is it Millennials and the now coming up Gen Z’s really want?

And what are the costs associated with not knowing what that is?

You Can’t Afford Not to Know what Millennials Want

The US economy wastes $30.5 billion dollars annually on Millennial turnover. The problem can be measured by its economic impact and the way it impacts company culture.

Millennials currently make over one-third of the workforce and growing. Almost 50% of Millennials say they anticipate leaving within the next twelve months. On average, those same Millennials can generate a $150,000 in revenue each and every year for the companies they plan on leaving. Beyond this loss, companies now need to spend to replace the Millennial who just bolted to a more attractive opportunity. This includes advertising, interviewing, training, onboarding and can add up to anywhere from 50 to 100% of an employee’s annual salary.

These are only the economic costs.

What about the way turnover impacts company culture?

In The Impact of Staff Turnover on Workplace Demands and Coworker Relationships, the author highlights the cultural impact caused by Millennial turnover. The study noted that employees who remain report increased levels of stress, inadequate support and staffing, poor communication, and a lack of collaboration. The study concluded that in order to ease these tensions, workplaces should promote communication and collaboration.

What does this mean for us?

Give the “people” what they want.

What Millennials Want

“Give the people what they want, and they will come.” And, more importantly, they will stay. Attracting top talent can be difficult enough. It’s even harder to keep them. One report indicated that Millennials do more job hopping than any other generation Two-thirds of Millennials “strongly agree” that career advancement is important according to the Millennial Influence Report. Another study conducted by The Society for Human Resource Management reported that “94% of Millennials want to use their skills to benefit a cause” and almost half wish that there were more company-wide service days, days spent away from the workplace and volunteering for a unified cause. When we dig deeper into the data and get honest with ourselves, a clear picture begins to emerge about what Millennials want – connection, coaching, and contribution.

Connection

Millennials want to feel connected: to the leadership of the company and its mission.

The days of disconnected leadership – authoritative, dictatorial management where leadership possesses the answers and the money – are over. Millennials prefer a non-hierarchical form of leadership where their leaders are in service to their evolution as individuals and employees. Flat organizational structures encourage communication and collaboration and allow employees to feel connected to their colleagues and leadership. In addition, Millennials prefer impact over income. Consider that Millennials regularly state that they’d take less income to work for a company where they felt they were making a positive impact in the world. It is no longer enough to pay employees well. Companies must also practice social responsibility and be authentic and transparent with their mission. Millennials not only want to feel connected to their leadership but they want to feel connected to a company’s mission and the community it impacts.

Coaching

Millennials want capability. More than anything they want to learn and grow from their jobs.  This requires great feedback! Unfortunately, this is categorized as them being narcissistic and/or needy. Forget that BS, we all were young once, so let’s take a second to analyze it opportunistically.  Millennials, and actually most of us would prefer the opportunity for constant improvement. More importantly, the employees are asking for it! Remember the Platinum Rule: treat people how they want to be treated. Millennials report feeling “blindsided” annual or quarterly performance reviews and often say they don’t know how the leadership feels about them or their performance. Instead of annual reviews, offer regular feedback geared towards creating positive change and provide opportunities for Millennials to seek that feedback on their own. Empower them with the tools they want, and need, to succeed. Allow them to impress you.

Contribution

Let’s take a look at one of the patterns emerging here. We’ve said that Millennials would rather take less money to make an impact AND what constant feedback. What does this mean for us? Ultimately, Millennials want to feel as though they are making a contribution. Millennials have reported wanting more opportunities to contribute to causes at work, such as service days where employees have the opportunity to take the day off to volunteer. A number of leading companies are offering opportunities and incentives for employees to participate in programs making an impact in their community. When employees receive the opportunity to volunteer, their job satisfaction increases and the community involvement improves the brand’s reputation. With consumers reporting that a brand’s reputation is more important for their product, this is an obvious win-win.

The Three C’s

Millennials are not difficult to decode. They crave transparency and authenticity. They desire opportunities for connection, coaching, and contribution.

It’s important to remember: we’re on the same team here. Millennials and the other generations are all after the same thing. If one generation loses, we all lose. If one wins, we all win. An organization’s employees are working towards a common end. Bridging the gap between organizations is essential for success. Ultimately, Millennials are people, like the rest of us, who aim to create better businesses organizations, and results.

Does your organization need help implementing programs that encourage the three C’s? Shoot us an e-mail at dan@launchbox365.com or call us at 858.314.9867 and we’d be happy to share a few things you can do to make a positive change in your company. Together, we can bridge the gap and help generations work effectively, efficiently, and productively.

11 Ways Recruiters Can Attract Millennial and Gen Z Candidates

We know a few things about Millennials and Gen Z: they don’t trust lightly, they crave innovation and experiences, they love the entrepreneurial spirit, they express their need for growth, and have a tendency to disrupt and redefine industries.

So as a recruiter you’re in a tough spot; how to effectively attract talent right from the start. Old school recruiting tactics from 1994 don’t work as well these days getting Millennials and Gen Z talent to want to work for and stay with companies.

Don’t get me wrong, Millennials and Gen Z will happily work for companies.  Recruiters just need to approach younger talent carefully. The secret: they need to connect with them on a deeper level, communicate in ways that feel organic, and tell them the “Real Deal” truth (connecting to them as individuals).

If it all sounds a bit coddling, it really isn’t. It’s about treating your audience the way they want to be treated: The Platinum Rule.  Here are 11 ways recruiters can attract great Millennial and Gen Z talent.

Be Authentic

Not every company can be everything to everyone.  So be yourself.  Don’t pretend.  Not all companies have food, a full arcade, ping pong tables, video games and/or Massage Therapists (a la Facebook or Google). But for many companies, those perks wouldn’t even make sense to offer even if they could!

It is important that recruiters highlight perks that are relevant to the people in the industry they are hiring for. If the industry is technology, then having the latest technology and being a center of innovation and growth is a good sell. For a non-profit, it will be focusing on the tangible impact a candidate’s work will have. If it is the professional service industry, then experience and growth opportunities might be the right perks to highlight.

Whatever your industry, make sure to focus on the perks your candidates are likely to care the most about and that they compliment your company’s culture and values.

Go To Them

Millennials and Gen Z are not looking through the classifieds to find jobs. 86% of professionals in their first 10 years of their career use social media as part of their job search. If you want to get in front of the eyes of young talent, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat are where you should be.

Don’t make the mistake of being everywhere, though. Spreading yourself too thin is likely to do more harm than good.

Be authentic and appear on the platforms that people in your industry are most likely to be on. Professional industry talent might more likely be on LinkedIn whereas creative talent will be on Medium and Instagram.

Use “depth not breadth” to make your efforts as effective as possible.

Highlight the Impact That They Will Make

It is incredibly important to Millennials and Gen Z that they feel they are making a difference with the work they do. During the interview process, Millennials will be looking for concrete examples of how they are going to be able to hit the ground running and contribute right away to the company’s mission. Recruiters should make sure they communicate how their company harnesses that youthful energy and provide examples of the types of opportunities young talent will have to make an impact.

Move Fast

Millennials and Gen Z have grown up with the world at their fingertips. Millennial talent knows it is coveted and it won’t wait around for you to slog through a long recruiting and onboarding process. Make sure the recruitment process is as swift and efficient as possible. This is the generation that invented Tinder after all!  However, make sure you’re getting the right fit.  They attract quickly, however, test fit.

Tell ‘Em What They Want to Hear

No, not Ping Pong tables or “dope swag.” Millennials and Gen Z want to hear how their work will contribute to the company, how the company contributes to its community, the types of  professional development opportunities the company offers, and the flexibility they will have in terms of working hours. These perks may not be flashy, but they are the ones that Millennials care about most.

Focus on the Experience of Your Workplace

Millennials kicked their parents habit of materialism and they are bringing their experience-first mindset to the workplace. They don’t just want to know what they will be doing at work, they want to know how they will be doing it. Are they going to be asked to connect to AOL via a dial-up connection or does the office have a modern internal messaging platform? Do senior staff take the time to connect and mentor younger staff? Do their colleagues spend time together outside of the office for happy hour or team building?

The experience of the workplace is nearly as important as the work itself and young talent will be weary of companies that aren’t eager to share the day-in-the-life of their employees.

Show Off Your Diversity

Millennials are a diverse bunch and they want their employer to reflect that. They are on the lookout for people from different backgrounds professionally, culturally, sexually, and geographically. It is important to them that they work for companies that are actively trying to break down social barriers, be more inclusive, and provide opportunities for all people. Highlighting these efforts will be important to catch the attention of Millennials and Gen Z.

Share Your Company Story

Millennials killed off brands that didn’t have a compelling, original or meaningful story driving their company’s mission and they will happily walk away from employers who come off as similarly shallow.

If you have a great company story (and we all do!) make sure it gets shared during the recruitment process.Your story should tell why your company does what it does, why your people come to work fired up everyday, and how that purpose is found throughout your organization.

Having a genuine story of why your company does what it does can be the difference between landing and losing young talent.

CSR Policies are Important

Millennials and Gen Z care about the environment and their community and they want the companies they work for to be equally invested. Recruiters should make sure to share tangible and specific examples of how they are putting the environment and their communities first with their Millennial and Gen Z talent.

Provide a Roadmap to the Future

Young talent craves professional development and the chance to move through (and up) a company. It isn’t so much about the big corner office and fat paychecks; Millennials want to know about how their skills will be honed, what areas they might become experts in, and how their position might help them take on larger roles in the future.

For people who have lived through wars and a recession, they want a clear picture of how their current position will help set them up with greater stability in the future.

Let Them Meet Current “Team” of Millennials

Let Millennials and Gen Z meet your Millennials! The chance to spend half a day with your younger talent is a great way to show how your company caters to younger generations in tangible ways, demonstrates a transparency that Millennials respect, and allows for your current Millennial talent to be your brand ambassador.

Holiday Lesson in Speaking Millennial 101: Breathe a Daily Dose of Contribution

Tis the season! Though most holidays lessons surround consumerism, including the inane Black Friday extravaganzas, and fighting with family, it is also the season of volunteering, charity work, and giving.  We call it Contribution

And with those themes in mind, it was is important to once again defend the next generation and remind business leaders of one of the most under appreciated Millennial traits: their need to give back: Contribution.

You may not know it, but Millennials are big on donating both their time and their money.

In 2013, 60% of Millennials donated in some way and on average supported three charities. In terms of donations, Millennials donated on average almost $500 that year.

And remember, this is the generation with the worst financial prospects in recent history. Yet, Millennials are finding ways to give on top of student loans, stagnant wages, and rising costs of living.

Not only that, they truly believe their time, effort, and money will make a difference. According to the 2017 Millennial Impact Study,  70% believe they can affect positive change in the world.

Though Millennials want to assume the responsibility of fixing the world, they know they can’t do it alone. And that comes through in their approach to employers and their brands. They push hard and demand their Contribution efforts to be supported by both their employer and the brands they love.  And if hey don’t Millennials jump ship, and quickly, and with their friends. And that my friends cost businesses big bucks.

Millennials Need their Employers and Brands to Join Them in Contribution

Millennial’s believe they can change the world through their actions and they want their employers and favorite brands  to feel just as passionately and act socially conscious through yes,: Contribution.

The Harris Interactive study discussed above showed that 55% of Millennials said that a brand’s CSR reputation  sometimes affects (34%) or has a strong effect (17%) on their decision to make a purchase. Another study found that a staggering 80% of Millennials wanted to work for a company that cares about how it impacts and contributes to society.

Making the connection between Millennial’s emphasis on feeling engaged at work and their desire for their work to be meaningful, companies have increased their investment for developing and increasing their CSR policies in an effort to attract Millennials as professional talent and consumers.

How Brands and Employers can Meet the need for Millennial Contribution

Employers and brands can’t just talk-the-talk when it comes to CSR:  Millennials and Gen Z expect concrete and authentic examples of ways that companies and brands are thinking about the environment and their communities.

And this is a great thing! There are several different ways to get your brand involved with nonprofits and provide the opportunities to give that Millennials love.

Become a Corporate Partner
Becoming a corporate partner with a non-profit is a total win-win. With a partnership in place, your employees will have far easier time knowing how and when they can help, a big barrier to volunteering for 45% of Millennials. And for the non-profit, it means a bit more stability, resources, and visibility, all which help them further their mission.

Organize Team Building Around Giving
Happy hour isn’t the only team building activity out there. Encouraging and supporting volunteer groups is a great way of getting people spending time with each other outside of the office. Whether co-workers form their own giving coalition or it is a once a year get together, helping others is a great environment for bonding with colleagues.

Get them Involved
Millennials don’t just want to give money.  They want to be part of the change and actually feel they made a difference.  They measure themselves based on that giving and it means something real to them.  Provide them with opportunities to lead through direct impact and the doing.  They want to become leaders in Contribution.  They need to be able to have a tangible relationship with Contribution that is derived from an experience.  Make sure your Contribution plans include real experiences they can touch and feel and are memorable (video and social media won’t hurt) and make sure they are authentic and transparent.

Integrate with Important Causes
Whether you are a company like Intel that can donate 141 million dollars to energy conservation projects or a small coffee shop offering free coffee for a bucket of plastic picked up off the beach, there a thousands creative ways that you can integrate giving into your business model. Pick a cause that matches well with your company and begin brainstorming what you can do everyday to support your cause.

Millennials want to be engaged in meaningful work that impacts and they want to see, hear feel, and taste that they are impacting the world in a positive way.  Integrating giving, volunteering and outreach opportunities is a great way to provide a sense of working for a greater cause in the office.  By the way, please let them lead that charge they will not let you down.

And plus, a workplace where everyone is focused on helping other makes for a pretty stellar work environment.

Brands Millennials Are Killing from two Perspectives: Employers and Consumers

Millennials control $660B in spending and are often included in family purchasing decisions. I like to say it’s not just that millennials have the power, they are the power. In recent years, while a lot of companies weren’t watching, millennials have been on a murderous rampage of individual brands and even entire industries.   In their wake, they have left the remnants of those that were unsuccessful in understanding Millennial’s lifestyles, budgets, and the causes they care most about most.

Employers and brands have had to evolve to not only better attract and recruit Millennials, but retain, manage, and motivate them.  Some have done better than others.  Those that stood firm in their ways have been left to fight over the scraps of talent after the best have been picked over by more Millennial-minded talent seekers.

What can we learn from failure? Failed brands, industries, and employers offer a valuable learning opportunity for others.

Authenticity, Authenticity, Authenticity

Authenticity is priceless to Millennials. For proof, just ask Abercrombie, Aeropostale, or Hollister about their recent sales figures.   These brands — with their heavy emphasis on logos, formulaic branding, and skinny-only floor workers — quickly fell out of favor with Millennials. Focus-grouped to death, they projected a comically manufactured mainstream “cool” that Millennials quickly called B.S. on and now their sales are cratering.

Millennials’ message is clear: they don’t like what corporate-suits want them to like. They want brands that are just cool.

Cool brands don’t speak to all Millennials, they speak directly to their Millennials—the specific Millennials who are going to buy the brand’s goods or service. These brands speak in a voice that their Millennials identify with. They appear in the places that their Millennials spend their time and they establish a relationship with their Millennials that feels organic.

Employers interested in capturing Millennial talent need a similar mindset to the brands Millennials connect with. From the perks employers offer, to the way they handle recruitment, to the tools they use in the office, employers need to create a work environment that reflects the world Millennials exist in outside of their 9-5. Demonstrating an understanding of how Millennials think, work, and see the world will do wonders for employers’ efforts to attract young talent.

Key to companies who succeed in selling to or employing Millennials is the fact that they realize Millennials aren’t a homogenous demographic or psychographic, but instead are a diverse group of individuals.

Saving Time is a Major Selling Point

Time might be the hottest commodity on the market for Millennials. An emphasis on time-saving has meant trouble for time-sucks, like golf and sit-down restaurants, that don’t cater to the on-the-go Millennials lifestyle.  

In their place, massive brands like Uber and Tinder are cashing in on the Millennial need to streamline every aspect of their lives. Brands that are able to provide concrete, time-savings, and convenience can be confident they will have a steady flow of time-pressed Millennials as customers.

For employers, this emphasis on time means employers must make the effort to improve outdated office dynamics and procedures. Eliminating meetings with communication tools like Slack, utilizing Google Drive rather than Microsoft Word, and updated office policies are all ways to cater to a Millennial generation that has grown up with the world at its fingertips.

Brands Beware – Millennials Change the World!

Millennials care about the world and they are willing to pony-up for the causes they believe in.

In 2014 84% of Millennials made a charitable donation, despite being burdened with student loans. Even though they are cash strapped, Millennials average a yearly donation of $481

And they expect the same from the brands that they buy from and the employers they work for.

According to a Harris Interactive study, 55% of Millennials said that a brand’s CSR reputation sometimes affects (34%) or has a strong effect (17%) on their decision to make a purchase. In recent years, this has created a predicament for brands like the NFL with concerns over the health of its players and the oil Industry with its effects on the environment.

Employers aren’t off the hook either: in a study of 1,800 13-25 year old, 80% wanted to work for a company that cares about how it impacts and contributes to society.

If brands can tie themselves to the causes their target Millennial consumers care about and demonstrate they want to work with Millennials to help make the world a better place, it will be easier it will be for them to make organic connections with their target audience.

For employers, it is about having an actionable and visible CSR policy which includes volunteer and community impact opportunities for young talent, something Millennial workers highly value when seeking work. Whether it is volunteer opportunities, charity competitions, or other ways of giving back, community outreach is a big selling point for young people hoping to change the world.  

FOMO…On Retirement.

Brands – keep this in mind: Millennials are poor.

The class of 2016 averaged about $37,172 of student debt. As a result, industries like real estate, designer bags and clothing, high-quality furniture, and luxury items (like motorcycles) have taken a hit to their bottom line.

While luxury brands have taken a hit, thrifty brands that cater to lower quality and less expensive goods are getting a boost. Brands such as Target, Kohl’s, and IKEA have become favorites of a generation that buys cheap and for the short term. Fears about never being able to retire have put money options at a premium. Brands that help Millennials save are seen as partners in Millennial’s attempts to keep from financially drowning.

For brands, helping alleviate traditional costs, — Zipcar and Airbnb being prime examples — or offering loyalty programs like Kroger’s, can prove to be important selling points for Millennials already feeling the pinch of their daily expenses.

For employers, perks like public transportation passes, provided snacks or meals, or company discounts can be big attractions for millennials interested in cutting back on as much spending as possible in order to save.   

Millennials over the last few years have made their preferences known and it is up to employers and brands to pivot their marketing, offerings, and corporate policies to attract talent. Otherwise, they will end up in the graveyard alongside oatmeal, Hollister, and the oil industry. And that is no place you want your brand or company to be.

Defining Diversity as Millennials Do: Is Your HR Department Really Ready?

Both your HR department and your Millennial staff will undoubtedly agree that diversity in the workplace is important for the well-being of individual staff and the company as a whole. But when each says diversity, are they both describing the same thing? Do they agree on what makes for a diverse  workplace?

After 25 years working with both Human Resource leaders and the last 10 with Millennials, I know they probably don’t share the same definition of diversity. And with 50% of the workforce currently made up of Millennials who directly connect diversity–as they define it– with their engagement at work, it is critical to the health of any organization that Human Resource leaders and Millennials are on the same page about what “diversity” means.

Rather than seeing diversity as something to merely tolerate, or tip toe around, Millennials are demonstrating that they believe that there are tangible benefits to proactively seeking out minorities and people of diverse backgrounds to share ideas and ensure everyone’s voices are heard equally.

But, it isn’t enough for Human Resource leaders to understand how Millennials define diversity. They also need to know how to implement the right strategies for promoting diversity effectively and in ways that Millennials will respond to favorably as we develop the workplace of the future.

For Millennials, Diversity is Not Limited to Race

For Baby Boomers, diversity largely refers to race or gender. or the last 30 years Boomers have supported efforts that promote workplace diversity and reduced racial discrimination. Those efforts have helped make big strides in the racial diversity of offices across most, but not all, industries.

Millennials are the most diverse generation and consider having friends and coworkers from different races as expected. As a result, Millennials have widened the net of those who are included in “diversity” initiatives. Racial diversity is still important, but they also want their workplace to be diverse in terms of socioeconomics, sexual orientation, life-experience, and even where their colleagues grew up.

For Millennials, a multiracial workplace is good, but if all their colleagues come from the same suburbs and ivy league schools, they will still see your workplace diversity as lacking.

When it comes to diversity, Millennials want to be proactive. This means they don’t just want racial barriers of success removed, they want to actively collaborate with people of diverse backgrounds and learn from colleagues with different life experiences other than their own.

And to do that, they expect far more proactive efforts of inclusion by their employers.

From Diversity, Inclusion, and Millennial Engagement

For Millennials, inclusion involves opportunities that positively highlight differences, allow for the sharing of ideas, and facilitate teamwork between different groups.

And the reward for Human Resource departments who can meet Millennial expectations about inclusion? A more equitable and ethical workplace of course, but also far higher rates of Millennial engagement.  And, the sad truth is that the opposite of engaging them is losing them.  If you are Amazon or Toyota, each with 340,000 employees, that is a MULTI-BILLION dollar problem annually.  Even if you have 10,000 employees Millennial Turnover is likely an $87M problem annually.   (See our blog on the Staggering Cost of Millennial Turnover)

Human Resource departments who meet Millennial standards for inclusion see a 20% increase in engagement compared to those that fall short. With low-engagement costing the US economy 350 billion dollars every year, Human Resource departments have plenty of reason to look critically at their workplace diversity and asking themselves if it is everything it could be.

How Human Resource Leaders Can Meet Millennial’s Expectations for Inclusion

Diversity is a tricky issue for human resource leaders to tackle. Even genuine efforts to help promote diversity and inclusion can sometimes backfire.

So, what can be done to effectively promote diversity and help all staff members feel a sense of inclusion in the organizations they work for?

In the prestigious Journal of Applied Psychology, Downey, van der Werff, Thomas and Plaut, the authors of the paper “The Role of Diversity Practices and Inclusion in Promoting Trust and Employee Engagement”— which looked at the connection between diversity and engagement in the healthcare industry— describe three strategies that not only help promote inclusion, but also result in greater trust between employees and employers:

  • Mentoring Programs that help “…reduce social exclusion…” in the workplace
  • Management training to reduce bias’ in hiring managers
  • Diversity staff and task forces that give inclusion efforts traction by tracking results, follow-up on current initiatives, and implementing new programs

At Launchbox365, we train Human Resource leaders and managers in these exact strategies to help them ensure they are meeting the inclusion expectations of their Millennials staff. Through our work, we have seen first hand the boosts in trust and engagement that can take place when strategies like these are implemented properly to help increase the diversity and openness of organizations.

The Staggering Cost of Millennial Turnover

Imagine if there was something lurking in your business that was costing you hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars every year, was detrimental to your company culture, and negatively impacting every facet of your business. You would probably spring to action to fix it right?

Well, Millennial turnover is that “something”.

Yet, when I talk to CEOs, business leaders, and partners at law firms, they often seem unaware of the extent to which Millennial turnover impacts their business. When we talk about Millennial turnover, we are talking about historically low retention rates of young talent across industries that cost mid to large sized companies and firms millions of dollars a year and billions of dollars to the US economy. Millennial turnover is not something for CEOs or industry leaders to grumble about and sweep under the rug. It negatively affects company culture, staff morale, innovation,  productivity, and every other aspect of a business. The total impact on your business may astound you.

Direct Costs of Millennial Turnover

Millennial turnover costs the US economy $30.5 billion dollars every year. Yes, each and every year.

For individual businesses, the news is just as bad.  Currently, millennials make up one-third of the workforce, and 36% of them say they expect to  leave their current employer in the next 12 months. And in the US, each of those employees that is currently scrolling through job boards at their desk generates on average of $150,000 of revenue per year for their company.

And once those Millennials leave, they need to be replaced. That replacement process includes advertising costs, interview costs, training costs, and a host of other onboarding related costs. Depending on the industry, these direct costs of replacing millennial staff can add up to anywhere from $15,000 at the low end to 50% to 200% of an employee’s annual salary at the higher end.

Can you say “OUCH”?

Those are staggering numbers. And with Millennials continuing to enter the workforce over the next few years and Gen Z on the workforce horizon, the direct costs associated with employee turnover may increase.

Those are only the direct costs.

Indirect Costs of Millennial Turnover

What happens when an employee leaves?

For starters, their work still needs to get done, and it is usually passed on to other staff. This is often a source of stress for their ex-colleagues who are responsible for picking up the slack.  In the paper The Impact of Staff Turnover on Workplace Demands and Coworker Relationships, the authors outline the problem for ex-colleagues clearly:

“…Turnover causes financial strain on organizations while they recruit and train new employees… disrupts organizational efficiency…can threaten the implementation and sustainability of new initiatives… likelihood of turnover among remaining staff increases when stress is high and coworker support is low…”

Let’s appreciate what the authors are saying for a second. Millennial turnover causes increased financial strain, decreased efficiency, disruption of new initiatives, and increases in turnover of the staff who are still working there.

Basically, Millennial turnover negatively impacts every imaginable aspect of a business or company.

And don’t forget, even once the Millennial moves on, you are not out of the woods yet.

The people who replace the Millennials who leave your company need time to get onboarded, trained, and brought up to speed before they can start contributing at max efficiency. This process can take between three and seven weeks according to a Millennial Branding survey, causing months of suboptimal performance.

Once CEOs and business leaders realize the extent of the Millennial turnover issue, it is as if they just realized their gas tank has had a giant hole in it for the last 20 miles. They jump to action, asking us at Launchbox365 to help them to reshape retention and engagement..

And through the new training and development needed:  coaching and mentorship from the inside-out, our team is able to to help them connect with their Millennial staff and provide the professional development and work environment and experience Millennials crave, reducing their Millennial turnover.

But the first step to getting help is admitting you have a problem. Business leaders must first appreciate Millennial turnover for what it is: a million dollar issue that negatively impacts every aspect of their business.

What about you? Got this issue?

Solving the Professional Service Industry’s Millennial Challenge.

Houston, we, the professional service industry, have a Millennial problem. Millennials can expect their initial years in the industry to involve “paying their dues” through unengaging grunt work and brutal work hours with few opportunities for professional growth or training. The reward for surviving those monotonous early years is greater earning potential later in their careers.

Or, said another way, the professional service industry offers the exact opposite of what we know Millennials want from their careers.

And it is costing the industry millions of dollars every year.

On average, Millennials leave their employers after only two years on the job. This is wildly expensive for companies and leaves them with no talent in the pipeline to groom for future success in the industry. Though professional service companies must own some of the blame for their lack of appeal to Millennials, the issue is complex and it isn’t all the fault of the professional service industry itself.  So what is really going on with professional Millennials and what can be done about it?

To Invest or Not to Invest in Training for Millennial Talent

Millennial turnover is no small problem. For mid to large professional service companies, a high rate of turnover costs millions of dollars in direct and indirect costs.  

Employers are understandably frustrated. They feel that Millennials are graduating college without the necessary skills to succeed as professionals. Employers could close that gap by investing in training and professional development. But out of fear their young talent will leave anyway, they hesitate to invest in proper training and professional development opportunities.

This has created an endless negative cycle. Millennials don’t receive the training opportunities they value forcing them to look elsewhere for opportunities where they can learn and grow. This gives them a reputation for job-hopping, making employers even more hesitant to invest the time and money to train their young staff.

This is already playing out in law firms, which some think will be forced to break apart over the next decade due to a lack of up and coming talent to hand established firms over to after longstanding Boomer partners retire.

For companies, Millennials are an expensive and seemingly unfixable problem. But they are not alone: Millennials think the situation is hopeless as well.

Why Are Millennials Leaving?

We know that Millennials value work that is meaningful, provides opportunities to learn and allows them to make an impact in areas that they are passionate about. Yet, professional service companies continue their tradition of giving young talent long hours, dull work, a lack of opportunities to make a significant impact, and limited opportunities to work in areas of interest.

Millennials also rank salary below training and schedule flexibility when it comes to workplace perks. Yet, most companies continue to pay high salaries, are unbudging when it comes to flexible work hours, skimp on providing valuable professional development opportunities, and then throw up their hands in exasperation when their Millennials walk out on them.  

It really should not come as a surprise that Millennials are quick to leave the professional service industry given that companies have shown little willingness to cater to the needs and wants of Millennial talent. Senior Boomer staff who have spent their lives working their way up the industry hierarchy will exclaim that this is how it has always been! These Millennials need to toughen up!

This is a losing mentality for individual companies and the industry as a whole.

The professional service industry simply cannot afford to pass up on entire generations of talent because of an unwillingness to adapt to the needs of up and coming talent. Just like in any other industry, companies can (and must) make small adjustments to how they operate and invest in young, up-and-coming talent.  

How The Professional Service Industry Can Retain Millennial Talent

If current trends continue, many companies in the next decade are going to be forced to deal with a shallow talent pool as the most talented Millennials become frustrated and move on to other more Millennial-focused industries. Thankfully, there are practical strategies that companies can use to satisfy Millennial’s professional development needs, keep them engaged in their work and increase the likelihood that they stick around long enough for companies to see a return on their investment in young talent.

Pay Less and Train More

This bears repeating: professional development opportunities are the number one workplace perk among Millennials across all industries. It is possible for companies to invest more in training and decrease their risk of losing that investment simultaneously. To do this, some companies are lowering starting salaries and offering an increased emphasis on training opportunities as a perk to attract young talent.

At the end of the day, indulging Millennials in their desire for professional development is hugely beneficial for companies. Providing training helps close the skills gap, increases Millennial retention rates, lowers turnovers costs, and helps attract top talent that companies can groom for success in the industry.       

Alternative Career Paths

Not everyone needs to pop champagne on a private jet to feel fulfilled by their career. Companies need to provide alternative career paths for Millennials who may not be striving to summit the peak of the industry in terms of money and status, but who are more than capable of bringing value and passion to an organization.  

Creating alternative career paths often involves offering more diverse positions than were previously available. These new roles provide more opportunities for Millennials to focus on areas of the industry that interest them most and where they feel they can make the biggest impact. This is a draw to Millennials, even if that means they will be working for a lower salary. These alternative career paths may not offer the glitz and glamour of “making partner”, but they allow companies to appeal to a more diverse group of young talent and benefit from the value and passion they bring.

Adopt More Progressive Work Policies

No one is suggesting axing professional dress codes or adding ping pong tables and craft peer as office perks. But the service industry needs to begin to admit that if it is going to succeed, it needs to come out of the 1960s. That includes making greater efforts of inclusion, supporting greater work hour flexibility, and continued integration of digital and online tools that improve the experience of both the young staff and the company’s clients. The industry doesn’t need to be turned on its head, but it does need to work towards reflecting the world that its associates and clients live in.

The next decade is going to be critical for the  professional service industry. Gen Z, the generation after Millennials, has the job market in its sights, and the talent in Gen Z is going have similar expectations about the workplace as their slightly older Millennial colleagues. The professional service industry needs the best and brightest to succeed, but if it does not begin to evolve to appeal to young talent, it is going to be left fighting over the leftovers of the talent pool.

And for industry built around professionals, that is a scary thought.

The “M” Word (Millennial): Reverse Ageism at its worst…

We know that making sweeping generalizations about any group of people being “lazy,” “unprofessional,” “unreliable,” or “narcissistic” is repugnant. Unless we are talking about the dreaded “M” word,  Millennials. Then, apparently, it’s okay.    

After years of having their generation smeared by Baby Boomers, Gen X, and the media, Millennials are perceived negatively as professionals at first glance.

Millennials often enter a workplace climate in which it is okay to make negative assumptions about the quality of work they can produce, the professionalism they will display, and their dedication to their job.

It is called Reverse Ageism and it presents a serious hurdle to young talent in your office no matter how capable they actually are.

And the problem is not cost-free. The impact of these negative stereotypes contributes to high turnover rates of Millennials, costing the US economy billions of dollars every year and negatively impact the productivity and culture of individual organizations.  For an organization with 50,000 employees, 40% of which are Millennials, this can be a billion dollar problem annually – billion with a B.

With generational tensions already high, it is important to understand the extent of the negative stereotyping of Millennial professionals and how you can help rid your workplace of Reverse Ageism.

The Problem of Reverse Ageism

Regular stereotyping of Millennial workers in pop culture and offices alike has led to socially acceptable age-discrimination against younger staff. According to a report titled  Discriminating Against Millennials in the Workplace Analysis on Age Discrimination Against Young Adults, Millennials face a perception in the workplace from older staff of being “entitled, hard to train, and uncommitted to their position of employment.”

And this perception has real ramifications for the young talent in your office.

In their paper Too Old or Too Young? The Impact of Perceived Age Discrimination, authors Ed Snape and Tom Redman cite a study which found that “being seen as untrustworthy and being given less responsibility were common” among undergraduate business students. And that is if they are hired at all; experts now cite a hesitancy in employers over hiring younger staff.

Even worse, this is happening at the beginning of Millennial’s careers, right when they need opportunities to learn, develop, and hone their professional skills the most. But too often they are never given those opportunities, forcing them to leave their employer —re-confirming the ‘job-hunting’ stereotype— and continuing the negative cycle at their next job.  

Reverse Ageism Is a Million Dollar Problem for Companies

Ageism isn’t just a bummer deal for Millennials. If you are a mid to large sized company, reverse ageism could potentially be costing you millions of dollars, your most productive employees, and ruining your company culture.

On average, Millennials stay in a role for 1.3 years, which Gallup estimates costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually. That’s a ton of coin.

And money isn’t the only loss for companies. Recruitment costs, onboarding costs, loss of productivity from watching colleagues leave, and lower productivity of new hires all negatively affect a company, its culture and its bottom line. Not to mention these young staff that are leaving are often more productive than senior staff and almost universally less expensive to hire, hurting your bottom line even further.

These are real costs to your company, but they are fixable. They require thought, time, investment and a commitment to emphasizing the strengths of your Millennial staff and helping the five generations working together today to bridge the gaps between them and leverage their unique strengths.

Millennials Have Unique Gifts and Gaps

Unlike the other four generations in the workplace, Millennials have a unique set of talents and disadvantages: what they may lack in interpersonal skills they make up for in fast research through collaboration, for example.  They have real strengths as employees. It is certainly true that they may not have the industry knowledge of a 30-year veteran, but that doesn’t mean they can’t bring powerful value to your organization.

For one, while it may be true Millennials lack some essential professional skills, they are happier than any other generation to develop and hone their skills given the chance. Gallup found that 87% of Millennials believe “development is important in a job” and development opportunities regularly score higher than pay when Millennials rank the benefits of a job.

Millennials are also fantastic when it comes to problem solving using technology, are very strong collaborators, and are professionally curious. The point being, while they may not be walking into your office on the first day of work as perfectly polished professionals, they have the eagerness and desire to learn that should allow you to sculpt them into the exact type professional you think will thrive in your organization.

The catch is that they know when they are liked, wanted, respected and valued.

Investment really is the key. Employers who want to put a stop to both the generational tensions in their office and the high turnover rate of Millennials need to take the time to train the enterprise to bridge generational gaps. That process starts with providing Millennials with the training opportunities that develop their professional skills and make them feel that they are valued in the workplace and gives them a sense of progressing as professionals.

We suspect you might even be surprised by what they can do.  

The 4 Top Solutions for Retaining Millennial Employees: Teach, Learn, Listen, and Guide

As a coach of CEOs and business leaders on how to retain Millennial talent, I am often presented with the same problem: in a desperate attempt to appeal to their Millennial staff, business owners buy Ping Pong tables, kegs of craft beer for the office kitchen, free food, or setup an Xbox in their office common area.

And low and behold their Millennial staff continue to walk out on them, but why?.  

Senior or seasoned staff see this generation of 20-30 somethings as being vastly different than any generation that came before them. They complain of Millennial’s need to be taught industry skills, their laziness, their incessant attempts to have their ideas heard, their utopian ideas about work life balance and their peculiar craving for a sense of professional progression.  

Nonetheless, the great Millennial secret is that they are more similar to every other generation of young and ambitious people throughout history.    

Universally, what Millennials want is to be taught what they don’t know so they can grow and progress. They want the chance to teach others to help improve those around them. When they speak, they want to be heard and valued. And they want guidance on how to be successful from people who have already walked the path they’re embarking on.

There is no mystery there.

Recognizing this similarity between Millennials and all generations is the easy part. The real solution  to retaining your millennial talent is easier said than done and comes in establishing an intergenerational office culture founded on teaching, learning, listening and guidance. Here’s why and how:

 

Teaching Millennials Benefits All Generations   

PayScale’s 2016 Workforce Report revealed a stark contrast between Millennial’s perception of their preparedness for their job and that of their senior (and older) hiring managers. PayScale’s report showed that 87% of Millennials thought they were prepared for their job, while only 50% of managers felt their Millennial staff were prepared.

While managers are quick to pick up on Millennial’s unpreparedness, “they should just know it, the thinking goes, because the senior folks all learned it themselves.” Can you say …bull….

Nonetheless, they seem to turn a blind eye to a far more important Millennial characteristic: their desire for professional development opportunities.

According to PWC’s Millennials at Work Reshaping the Workplace Report, professional development is “…their first choice benefit from employers,” ranking above flexible hours and pay.

To begin developing a teaching culture, you need to ask yourself honestly: do your Millennial employees have regular opportunities to work with and learn from your senior staff?

If the answer is no, the time to start creating those learning opportunities for Millennials is now.

For senior staff, it means building a rapport and genuine relationship with their younger staff, a chance to pass on their expertise, and the chance to help the younger generation progress professionally.

For Millennials, mentorship opportunities provide a sense that their team and company are invested in them. Mentorships are a chance for younger talent to learn from the wisdom of those with decades of experience in their industry, to improve their skills in the areas they are lacking, and provide a sense of professional progress.

According to the data, if you want loyalty from Millennials, you have to provide them these opportunities to learn and grow professionally. This is a savvy and ambitious generation. Their hunger to learn and grow needs be fed by employers. Otherwise, Millennials are happy to pack up and find opportunities to develop their skills elsewhere.  

 

You’ve Got a Lot to Learn From Millennials

Though older generations may only view Millennials as 50% prepared for the workplace, that 50% can be incredibly valuable to senior staff who now face a strange and intimidating new landscape where email is seen as being a bit outdated and popular trends change on a dime.

Thankfully for senior staff, their Millennial colleagues present a unique learning opportunity on how to operate in the digital age.

From more efficient in-office communication tools, to new platforms to exploit, to understanding the ideas, motivations and mindset of 83  million of their fellow Millennials, the younger generation has a lot to teach the seasoned professionals in the office.

And Millennials want to teach.

They are aware that in the complex digital age, it is only those that innovate, adapt and evolve that survive. Millennial complaints about antiquated meeting schedules or dated sales tactics don’t come from a sense of entitlement; they come from a sense of urgency. They have taken part in the digital age since they were born. They know how fast the world moves. And they want you and your organization to keep up.

The reward for senior staff who take the time to learn from them? A crash course in the latest trends, tools, and platforms, in addition to that much sought after millennial loyalty.

But to learn, senior staff first have to be willing to listen.  

 

For Millennials, To Be Heard is to Be Valued

Millennial workers overwhelmingly enjoy working with the other older generations. In the same PWC study, 76% of Millennials said that they enjoyed working with “older senior management” and only 4% disagreed. It isn’t about being needy or entitled. Millennials want the opportunity to have their ideas heard, to get feedback on those ideas from senior staff, and to feel valued by the companies they work for.

And senior or seasoned staff may do well by listening.

Millennials are responsible for many of the recent positive trends in workplace environments. They facilitate more collaborative work environments, introduce communication tools that limit the need for inefficient meetings, emphasize the importance of having a sense of purpose at work, and have made CSR an essential company perk.  

They also represent a huge chunk of the US economy, “spending more than $650 billion each year and influencing upward of $1 trillion in total consumer spending.” Listening to how they think, the things they like, and the values they hold can help senior staff with decisions on everything from marketing strategies to product design.  

Start Doing This to Benefit from Millennial Engagement

Engagement. Engagement. Engagement.

It’s all the hype these days, especially with the workplace changing and remote working situations on the rise. And rightfully so.

A five-point increase in employee engagement is linked to a 3% growth in revenue, according to a recent report by Aon. The study also revealed that global employee engagement levels dropped for the first time in five years. This isn’t good for businesses. As engagement falls, so does financial performance.

This isn’t due to a lack of engagements surveys and information. We spend at least $1B a year on employee engagement surveys.[1] Yet accordingly to Forbes, most companies say they aren’t getting the value they want.  The Workplace Genome Project estimates that 40% of HR professionals rarely do anything meaningful with engagement data results. Why?

Because these studies don’t measure underlying, root causes. These studies measure symptoms and outcomes. So, while the data may be interesting, it gives no insight into where a problem should be addressed, or what to do about it. Engagement doesn’t necessarily mean employee satisfaction. However, by understanding your millennial employees and getting to know them, you can engage them in ways that lead to feeling satisfied in the workplace.

According to research by the Teleos Leadership Institute, employees want 3 things:

  1. A meaningful vision of the future
  2. A sense of purpose
  3. Great relationships

An effective system of monitoring employee engagement will measure all 3 of these components. There are a lot of different factors and data points that can be analyzed and dissected. You want to make sure you are measuring the ones that are relevant and have a direct relationship with your employee engagement. Gallup has what they call the Q12 to measure engagement which include the following questions:

  • I know what is expected of me at work.
  • At work, my opinions seem to count.
  • I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  • The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  • At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  • My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  • In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  • I have a best friend at work.
  • My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  • In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  • There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  • This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

Once you understand engagement levels, you can then work to improve them. The only way to do that is by understanding your millennials employees, and what specific strategies lead to better engagement. Here are some strategies that will improve millennial employee engagement.

Ask Tough Questions to Understand Your Millennials

While perks and benefits may appeal to millennials, by themselves they will not engage and keep them over a long period of time. From the day you interview your millennial employees and onward, be proactive. Ask them questions in order to understand what drives them personally. Why does this matter?

Knowing what motivates or demoralizes certain employees allows you to create an ideal workplace environment and keep an eye on your employees. You can be strategic in what tasks you give to who, how often you show appreciation, whether or not to give them tough love, and when give them more space. Some of your millennials may value flexible hours over pay, while others are more motivated by commission opportunities. You can increase engagement among your millennial employees by asking tough questions. Learn what drives them.

Some examples of questions to ask are:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • Do you prefer working in a structured, or more casual environment?
  • Where do you think you can add the most value?
  • What are your goals?

Provide Feedback on a Regular Basis

Performance management and senior leadership were the two weakest engagement points for companies in North America, according to Aon’s 2017 Trends in Global Employee Engagement. Focus on improving these “weak points” by improving your communication with millennial employees. Consider designing a system or schedule to ensure you are proactive in engaging with your millennials. A feedback strategy is a great way to stay updated with your millennials. By doing this, you can better recognize pain points and solve them, address certain needs, and more.

Leadership and management can be improved by providing consistent feedback to your millennials. A feedback strategy will make it 10 x easier. This isn’t to say you will only engage with them when your schedule says too. However, it will help you stay relevant and engaged in your relationships, which will therefore improve your leadership and management, which will improve engagement.

Data is useless if you don’t know what it means, or don’t know what to do with it. Understand that millennial engagement in the workplace is directly correlated with revenue growth. Make an effort to engage your millennials by measuring the aspects of engagement that matter most. Learn about what drives your millennials. Get to know them by asking tough questions. Communicate with them on a regular basis. Be strategic and create a feedback system to make sure you’re on top of it. By focusing on your millennial engagement, your company will benefit.

 

[1] http://www.workxo.com/blog/post/177-engagement-not-about-how-you-work