Where the millennial workforce is concerned, there are really three sides to their story. One is the finding. According to a study, two out of three millennials will have hopped to another job by 2020.
The second is the stereotype and myth we build of them. We conveniently drop them in the irresponsible job hopper’s bucket.
Three - they operate on motivation. They have a sense of purpose. What they need is a sound ‘why’.
Organisations who have cracked the code - and the myth – will tell us that the millennial is the one on fire. These organisations also show us that it is not difficult to retain this generation.
So what are the elements of the magic formula to harness the energy and creativity of the millennial? What does it take to make them stay?
Connection a bigger purpose
Of course, the millennial looks at money. However, they look more at how they can make a difference to customers. They need something to care about. Work ethic matters to them. So do culture and values. Their biggest disappointment arises when the purpose of their organisation is not revealed beyond the top and bottom lines.
When they buy in to a convincing bigger organisational purpose, they explode the myth that money is what makes them stay – or leave.
Working with technology
Our research reveals that millennials love associating themselves with organisations that are 'tech forward'.
The Canadian company Freshbooks, a cloud-based accounting firm, is a classic case in point. Millennials make up for almost 75% of their workforce, and the organisation still showed a 93 percent retention rate.
The organisation communicates to the millennial that they are actually a technology company, and not just an accounting firm. Every employee is excited to belong to a high-growth technology software company that helps small-business owners sort out their invoicing. Even as new hires, they are placed in front of their customers to truly understand how they are making a difference at work.
The ‘surround power’ of collaboration
The millennial thrives on collaboration. They need to be in the midst of motivated team mates who burn with energy for what they are doing. They need managers who push boundaries and think differently. For them, cool collaboration trumps cool offices.
Millennials have grown up with the confidence that they can make a difference. They look up to the experienced people in the organisation to show them that the work they do collectively matters. They can take on the grunt work if they see and feel the collaborative power. Beyond the email and the coffee machine run-ins, they look for great relationships, both at and beyond work.
The opportunity to grow and learn
Millennials hunger for opportunities to grow, and thirst for learning that hones their skills. They need to be trained for professional development. They need to be coached to understand that they can look for opportunities to grow within the organisation without looking outside.
Do not give up on the millennials because they seem to be seeking instant gratification. Take time to talk to them about their goals and help them understand the destination they seek. Take equal care to have clear and credible career paths that they can pursue with the confidence of performance. Integrity of feedback is critical to enable them understand both content and context to progress.
Guidance without micro-management
Millennials identify themselves with the entrepreneurial spirit. It is a strength that they bring to the organisation they belong to. However, it can lead to conflict if managers look at it disparagingly. Can they redirect this energy inwards so that it benefits the teams they work for? By giving them incentives to succeed and recognising the results they achieve, organisations may have unlocked a compelling reason for millennials to stick around.
Happiness is…a good work-life balance
Sure, millennials are social beings that do not place work and life in watertight compartments. They certainly do not come everyday to work to get bored. They look for bonhomie and fun in the workplace, which in no way undermines their commitment and diligence. At the same time their interests outside the work sphere equally defines their identity. Organisations need to be cognizant of and respect this need. This gives them a strong message that the organisation values their happiness. It is estimated that millennials will comprise 46 percent of the working population by 2020. Increasing their stickiness therefore is no longer a choice – it is a compelling necessity.