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.

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?

How to Prepare Your Workplace to Attract Gen Z Talent

Have you worked tirelessly to establish a workplace environment and policies perfectly tailored for attracting Millennial talent?

If so, great work! It’s time to do it again.  

Gen Z, a generation of 60 million young Americans born between 1996 and 2011, is now only a few years away from entering the workforce.

And if you assume Gen Z will be similar to Millennials with the hopes that your Millennial workplace will satisfy the Gen Z workforce, you may be sorely disappointed.

Here is what you need to know about Gen Z to prepare your workplace for their arrival and to avoid missing out on the wave of young talent they are sure to bring.

Who is Gen Z?

Born after 9/11, knowing nothing of the dark pre-social-media age, and raised in a recession while playing videogames with their unemployed Millennial siblings, Gen Zers are a distinct generation all their own.

Coming of age amidst the Great Recession and wars in the Middle East, their place in history has molded the traits that define Gen Z.  Traits which, as Alex Williams notes in the New York Times, more closely resemble the Baby Boomers than any other recent generation.

They are a generation that wants stability. They want to make an impact on the world. They value authenticity. They are socially accepting. And they also show signs of being fairly nice compared to other generations.

And that is all well and good. Many employers will be excited about welcoming any generation other than Millennials. But how do employers cater to this young and massive generation?

Loyalty and Stability are Critical For Attracting Gen Z

During the last 10 years, Millennials and employers have developed an unfortunate understanding: both see the other as replaceable, and neither expects any long-term loyalty from the other.

With Gen Z, employers may be able to bank on more long-term loyalty. As Jeremy Finch reports on FastCompany, “We found that while Gen Z like the idea of working for themselves, the majority are risk-averse, practical, and pragmatic” and that Gen Z is shying away from the flashiness of developing the next great app and instead “…are biased in favor of financial stability.”

They show their pragmatism through their desire to be trained and invested in by traditional employers. In fact, “84% of new grads expect to receive formal, on-the-job training.”  

The reward for employers willing to invest in Gen Z appears to be loyalty. According to members of Gen Z studied, “62% [saying] they expect to stay at their first job for at least three years,” a far cry from the job hopping Millennials.

This presents a big shift in how employers and employees relate to one another. If you are an employer who does not want to miss out on the talent coming from Gen Z’s, the message is clear: invest in them. Provide them the professional development opportunities they crave and in return for your investment you will receive the loyalty you may not have ever received from Millennials.

They Want You To Help Them Save the World

Gen Zers have made it clear to retailers during their teen years that if retailers want their money, they need to actively demonstrate social responsibility. Think Tom’s shoes or Warby Parker. These are socially conscious companies whose brands are closely tied with their effort to make the world a better place.

And when they hit the workforce, they are going to expect the same from employers.

Though still in college now, employers can expect job interviews with Gen Z to be peppered with questions about your company’s values, its efforts to support the local community, its CSR policy and what volunteer opportunities you offer your employees.

And employers damn well better have a genuine, authentic answer.

Because Gen Z doesn’t just talk the talk: 26% of Gen Zers are already volunteering and 76% are concerned with man’s impact on the planet. They have a genuine belief that they can change the world and they are going to expect their employers to help them in their mission to do so.

Flexibility and Openness for Employers is Big

Though Gen Z is more cautious and willing to succeed within “the system,” they will also be expecting the continuation of progressive workplace policies that emphasize multiculturalism, acceptance of all people, and work-life balance.

Employers need to keep in mind Gen Z’s historical context: they come on the heels of social changes that have seen a 400% increase in multiracial marriages, a 50% increase in multiracial youth, and less emphasis on gender roles. Gen Z has also grown up with a black president, legal gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana in several states.

What does all of this mean?  If employers want the loyalty that Gen Z potentially offers, they need to make sure that their workplace environments and policies reflect the world that Gen Z has been raised in. That includes everything from the obvious (equal pay for men and women) to more creative flexible schedules, telecommuting opportunities, and other work-life balance benefits.

The good news about adjusting your workplace for the incoming Gen Zers is that those adjustments will result in a better workplace environment overall. What workplace couldn’t benefit from more professional development opportunities for staff, starting social conscious and CSR initiatives or making workplace policies more in line with the times?

As I always like to remind people, each generation has its own quirks, but they are all share more similarities than they have differences. It is universal human nature to want to have a meaningful experience at work, have the opportunity to learn, and be accepted by their colleagues. It will be the employers who understand these foundational human values that will be able to evolve fast enough to harness the young talent that sits on the horizon.

 

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.