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.

The Platinum Rule: A Road to Connecting and Growing Millennials

Recently I had the honor and privilege to be interviewed by Phil Blair from Manpower on UCTV.  We had a thoughtful and fun conversation on how companies and individuals can better understand millennials and how to hire them with more clarity and intention.  Here are the top 4 things that came from our chat and things you should keep in mind to accelerate along the learning curve to better understand how to maximize your engagement with millennials.

Each Side is Accountable

In order for the workplace to really create results, both sides, the millennials and managers, need to become next-generation leaders and be able to bridge the communication gap.  It works best when both sides are held accountable for doing so.  Managers must take second to ask the Millennial what kind of feedback or training would help them the most to success in their role.  And vice versa, Millennials must also be accountable for sharing their value and the question to their manager; how can I best serve you?

Technology Changed Everything

Technology has changed the way newer generations receive, process, and share information.  Information is on-demand and available whenever a Millennial wants it.  This has led to a faster pace of life that Millennials are naturally more comfortable with.  As such, Millennials have an expectation that everything should be available and accessible when they want it and how they want it.  If you’re aware that this need and expectation exists and if you’re able to provide information to them when they want it they’ll more favorably respond to you.

Help Millennials Articulate Their Value

Millennials are amazing, they just have a difficult time articulating their value.  Be their guide and help them learn how to tell their story and articulate value to your internal and external customers.  It’s actually easy to train millennials to share their story better. We’ve done it 10,000 times, but they need your help to do so.  Be available to give them the tools they need to be able to communicate about themselves that shares how their skills provide value to others and show them how to make it about others, not themselves.  The solution is to teach them how to build better relationships.  These skills are not being taught it in high school, college, and definitely not in the workplace because everyone assumes you should know how to build relationships once you get a job.  Let’s stop complaining that they don’t have the skills to build relationships and guide them to do so!

Shift Your Mindset

The stereotypical manager perspective is I have the gold (control your salary) I make the rules.  Both sides, the manager and the millennial, need to adopt the platinum rule.  Treat others how THEY want to be treated.  Both sides need to understand the other’s perspective and treat them in a way that best serves them.  Use the platinum rule, regardless if you believe you control the gold and control the rules.  To have a good culture everyone must treat one another with respect.  This will also increase Millennial retention.  If you can shift your mindset about millennials and understand that they’re not bad, they’re just different.  Another good idea to build a stronger culture of inclusion for Millennials is to incorporate them into your sphere of influence and treat them as a peer and listen to their ideas.  See our blog on how real mentoring is helping connect the generations.  You can also apply the kaizen approach to spark engagement and conversations from both sides.  Progressive companies understand these approaches.  For example, they don’t just offer food and travel options because millennials demand it and it keeps everyone at work longer (that’s part of it), they do so because it increases productivity and builds a stronger culture when people are congregating more often.  People are social beings.  Providing opportunities for communication and collaboration by bringing people together in casual settings helps build a stronger culture that attracts Millennials.

At the end of the day, the key to successfully managing the increase in multi-generational interactions is strong communication skills.  Furthermore, 80% of jobs found are through people you know.  It’s becoming more critical than ever to learn how to build strong communication skills to build the relationships that’ll get you and your team of millennials to the next level.

Millennials in Law Enforcement

This is a guest post by Sergeants Rich Hinzo and Steve Waldheim, SDPD

The San Diego Police Department takes pride in being innovative, progressive and places a heavy emphasis on training.  Our Department is at the forefront of implementing cutting edge equipment like tasers, body cameras, and any other physical tools we feel may best support our officers.  Additionally, we continue to conduct training on Mental Health, Active Shooter, and Mobile Field Force and Protest Management.

While these skills are important for our officer’s safety and the success of protecting the community, the San Diego Police Department also focuses its training on leadership skills which include, Procedural Justice, Emotional Intelligence, and Community Policing.

The San Diego Police Department constantly looks at law enforcement trends from a local and national perspective and attempts to identify issues and or deficiencies that affect our department.  We consistently review our policies, procedures, and best practices.  We train, evaluate, and make necessary changes and adjustments to fit the need of the officers today and the climate in which they work.

One of the trending topics this year in law enforcement, from a national perspective, was recruiting and retention.

Law enforcement has more generations working together than ever before and the largest group entering the workforce are Millennials.  Millennials are a much maligned group that aren’t understood very well by Generation X’ers or Baby Boomers, whom make up the majority of the San Diego Police Department’s supervisors and command staff.  Millennials have different life experiences, see the world from a different perspective, and their learning environments differ greatly from the two previous mentioned generations.

The San Diego Police Department reached out to Dan Negroni, Founder and CEO of Launchbox.  Dan is a consultant who helps companies solve today’s critical multi-generational issues.  Specifically, the focus is helping to facilitate communication with Generation “Y” which is more commonly referred to as “Millennials.”  Millennials are people born between 1980-1995.  Forty percent of today’s workforce are Millennials and sixty percent of the world’s population today is under the age of thirty.  Within 10 years, 75 percent of law enforcement agencies across the United States will be comprised of Millennials.

Dan came to the San Diego Police Department and gave a presentation about the nuances of the Millennial Generation to our captains and chiefs, including Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman.  What we learned was more than 60 percent of Millennials leave their employers within 3 years.  It costs companies an average of fifteen to twenty thousand dollars to replace each Millennial.  Within law enforcement, this number is much higher due to all the front loaded costs of training involved.  Most companies don’t have a plan in place to deal with this type of turnover and only twenty-two percent of organizations have a plan to engage Millennials and future generations.  Most importantly, Dan gave all of us insight into how to better manage and lead officers from this generation and warned us about the pitfalls of not recognizing the differences in how they see the world and their place in it.

Within the San Diego Police Department, we have annual training for all our sergeants, lieutenants and captains called “Command Training”.  This year, our main focus was on leadership and how to close the generational gap between supervisors and newer officers.  Since our supervisors lead by example, the captains of our Department were tasked this year with presenting our generational class called, “Bridging the Gap” to their own supervisory cadres.  The presentation was based on Dan Negroni’s class as well as teachings from his book, Chasing Relevance.

Perhaps you’ve heard newer officers on your Department expecting to make detective or sergeant in a short amount of time.  How many of us have said, “Back when I first started you would have never asked for that?”  There’s a reason why there’s a big disconnect between generations.  Millennials grew up in a very different world than we did.  Millennials grew up in a generation where everyone gets a trophy just for playing and they were told they could be anything they wanted to be.  They grew up in a technology savvy world where they could have anything instantly.  But there’s two things you can’t get an app on your I-phone for, job satisfaction and building relationships.  These things take time and it’s our job as supervisors within law enforcement to convey that to this generation.  Millennials are well educated, tech savvy and the two top things they desire from the workplace is professional development and work/life balance.

So how do we bridge the gap between generations within law enforcement?  You start by showing up and making it about others.  The single most important life/work skill is always building relationships.  In 2015, Professors from Cornell University conducted a survey in a large city Fire Department which included more than fifty fire houses.  They interviewed and surveyed over 395 supervisors within the department to rate the performance of platoons they were on versus platoons they had formerly served with.  Over this fifteen month study, the results showed that the platoons that ate together frequently had the highest performance ratings.  Conversely, the platoons that did not eat together had the lowest performance ratings.  The study showed that shared meals can serve as a cooperative activity by fostering greater collaboration and stronger social ties.  It’s the shared bonding time that is most important.

The discussions amongst our supervisors during Command Training have been innovative in finding ways to connect with newer officers.  As is the case with any law enforcement agency, the San Diego Police Department wants to retain its Millennial officers, especially after the money spent training them.  This is just a small way of trying to combat the issues today’s law enforcement is facing with recruiting and retention.  Whose job is it to retain your employees in the workplace?  The supervisors, regardless if it’s law enforcement or not.

The San Diego Police Department strides to make our Department as efficient as possible with one of the lowest number of officers per population in major cities across the United States.  Soon, Millennials will make up the majority of the workforce and law enforcement.  The San Diego Police Department wants to ensure that protecting the community continues to be the top priority for future generations and, in today’s world, working with millennials and not against them is the best way to accomplish this.

Want to Solve Millennial Engagement? Look Toward the Japanese: Try Kaizen Groups

The question most employers have about Millennial employees boils down to this:

What the hell do I do with them? Isn’t there a simple solution that can make them happy so I don’t have to engage with them?

Employers complain about Millennial employees being woefully unprepared for the workforce and lacking essential professional skills. But employers also need to keep their Millennial staff around to replace senior staff as they retire, help with knowledge transfer, and create the workplace of the future, all while avoiding the high costs that come with Millennial turnover.

How do you keep these fresh-graduates and future leaders engaged in their work, feeling valued, provide them opportunities to develop their skills, and allow them to make an impact on the company, all while minimizing costs?

One possible solution comes from Japan.

Kaizen, The Theory

Imagine a stereotypical mid-20th century manufacturing plant: A CEO or other heads of the company make decisions about how the plant runs and the employees on the production floor change their behavior according to the orders they receive from the top. Improvements in this scenario are often made through large-scale, expensive, and reactive changes.

But if you were to go to a Toyota plant during the same time period (and now), you would find something very different.

Employees on the production lines carry out their tasks much like their American counterparts, but there is an important difference: the employees on the production floor in Japan regularly meet together, identify issues, discuss suggestions on how to make the production process more efficient, and then they execute those small improvements.

This process of bottom-up continuous improvement is called Kai (change) Zen (good). Developed in Japan by Toyota after WWII, Kaizen can refer to any efforts where small optimizations are continuously made to produce large-scale improvements over time.

The idea is that employees closest to a given process are in the best position to make suggestions for improving that process. Individual employees are empowered to ask “how can this be done better?” or “how can we do this better?”  Employees are often then grouped in Kaizen Groups, which regularly meet to share the issues they have identified during the course of their work, present and discuss solutions, and then execute those solutions on their area of the business.

Over time, these small, proactive, incremental improvements across an entire company’s operations can make a big difference in quality and efficiency.

Though they were created as a tool to achieve lean production, Kaizen Groups can be repurposed to help engage Millennial staff in your workplace by creating Millennial Kaizen Groups. The rationale is that Kaizen is the ultimate form of Professional Development and that is exactly what Millennials need to stay engaged at work.

How to Create and Utilize Millennial Peer to Peer Kaizen Groups

Creating Millennial Kaizen Groups is fairly straightforward. A Kaizen Group is formed with a few younger staff and the group is tasked with developing lists of issues that they come across during the course of their daily work. The team regularly meets together to discuss the issues they identify as well as develop proposals for solutions to those issues.

Every two weeks (or however often is appropriate), the Millennial Kaizen Group meets with senior staff and upper management (as high up in the hierarchy as possible) and presents their list of identified issues as well as their solutions to those issues. Senior staff then have a chance to provide feedback and insights on the solutions presented and the group works together to decide which solutions are feasible and why.

Any solutions that are accepted by the senior management team are then executed by the Kaizen Group and the results of the optimizations are tracked and regularly reviewed. The cycle then continues with the group regularly meeting, making proposals, developing plans of execution with senior staff, and reviewing the results of those changes.

Why Millennial Peer to Peer Kaizen Groups Can Work

Forming Kaizen Groups in this way is a simple but powerful way of engaging Millennial staff and has a host of benefits for younger staff and the company as a whole.

Consider the potential benefits for Professional Development by participating in Kaizen Groups for Millennial staff:

  • Increased Engagement:

    Group members are more engaged in their daily work, constantly seeking ways that the processes or tools that they work within can be improved.

  • Real Feedback on Their Ideas:

    Group members have the opportunity to see how their ideas stand up to the scrutiny of senior management and learn from the holes that senior staff poke in their ideas.

  • Presentation/Communication Skills:

    The Kaizen Group regularly gives a formal presentation to senior staff. It’s an opportunity to practice their communication and presentation skills, two skills employers feel younger staff severely lack.

  • Sense of Value:

    Even if their ideas are rejected, the Kaizen Group has the opportunity to be heard by upper management, an important demonstration that the younger staff are valued.

  • Increased “Peer to Peer” Camaraderie:

    The Kaizen Group works together closely to pool issues, create pitches, develop solutions, and work as a team.

  • Sense of Purpose through Impact:

    The group enjoys a sense of making a genuine impact as a result of the proposals that are approved and implemented.

Millennial Peer to Peer Kaizen Groups benefit senior staff and the company as a whole as well. These groups are a chance for senior management to provide feedback on the group’s ideas and the presentation of their ideas, walk them through any areas where their ideas are lacking, and mold them for the mindset of the company. Millennial Kaizen Groups are a rare opportunity for senior staff to evaluate their younger talent (and their ideas) up close and critique their thinking, an important aspect of mentorship and training many Millennials crave but often lack in the workplace.

And, in the instances where the group presents a good solution to an issue, the company is improved in small ways that can have a large impact over time with little to no monetary investment.

American and British car companies, sick of playing catch-up to the Japanese, were eventually forced to adopt Kaizen into their own production processes. Companies struggling to keep their young talent from walking out of the door should feel a similar pressure. Millennial Peer to Peer Kaizen Groups have the potential to ease generational tensions and develop young talent at little to no cost.

And that is a damn good deal.

Need help setting one up? launchbox365 knows how.

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.