I don’t mean to frighten you, but I am about to alert you to a dire circumstance many companies are dealing with right now: turnover.
Today’s generation does not have the same long-term commitment to the company as past employees did. They are impatient with achieving career goals and are cavalier about job-hopping. According to Gallup, one-fifth of employees born between 1980 and 1996 change jobs each year, which is three times greater than other age groups. Six out of every 10 people in this same age group are actively looking to change jobs (https://www.gallup.com/workplace/231587/millennials-job-hopping-generation.aspx). This probably means that on your team, you have maybe one or two people at most who aren’t thinking about leaving or actively trying to do so.
Holy Moses—that’s a lot of hours you’ve wasted onboarding, training, coaching, and mentoring these folks. Gallup estimates the cost of all this turnover is in the neighborhood of $30.5 billion each year! (https://www.gallup.com/workplace/231587/millennials-job-hopping-generation.aspx)
Who are these job-hopping young professionals? They are—dare I use the dirty word—Millennials. And with that moniker comes a host of issues you were never trained or prepared for as a manager.
Millennials are people born between the years 1982 and 1993. There are more than 80 million of them in the workplace, which means that as long ago as 2015 they succeeded the Gen Xers as the largest percentage of the workforce. This means that if you manage people, you’d better figure out how to lead and motivate these individuals—fast.
The worst thing to do is write them all off as lazy, spoiled, and spoon-fed. But is this perception myth or fact? The answer is somewhere in the middle. Supervisors and managers are frustrated because they don’t understand that Millennials view the world—especially work—differently. In particular, managers accustomed to “old-school” approaches need to understand the unique perspectives of Millennials and adapt to them with a whole new style guide.
To help you create a Millennial-friendly environment to help retention, here are a dozen tips:
1. Millennials love to collaborate and work in teams, but don’t let them go overboard trying to get involved in activities outside their job descriptions. Stretch goals and department interactions should be encouraged, but if employees do too much, they’ll get distracted and won’t accomplish their own annual goals.
2. Millennials crave feedback. Saying, “Great job!” won’t cut it, even if that is the case. If you aren’t giving them specific guidance each week on every project, they will either think you don’t care or feel under-confident they are doing the job right.
3. Make sure your team members are receiving the right training. Millennials thrive on training sessions. If you have money in your budget and they have time in their schedules, try to accommodate their needs.
4. Make time for brainstorming and off-sites focused on the company’s vision and strategy. Millennials want to know the “hows” and “whys” of the tasks they are performing and want to contribute to the big picture.
5. Respect their work/life balance when you can. Millennials need “flex time” and have difficulty separating work and play. Although they may want to start the work day later, they feel that checking work texts and e-mails at 3 a.m. is still considered “work.”
6. Lead by example. Millennials tend to have high ethical standards. If you aren’t “walking the walk and talking the talk,” your team members will not trust you enough to follow your lead.
7. As mentioned in #2 and #3, Millennials need lots of feedback and are in constant training mode. On the other hand, you have to “teach without preaching.” If they feel you are lecturing them or being condescending, they will tune you out.
8. Make meetings as interactive and as fun as possible. Do not be a “talking head,” as this will bore them to tears. Get everyone involved in the conversation and, on occasion, have team members lead the meeting.
9. Tell them “Go!” to start every project. If you don’t specifically say the word, they will just wait around and do nothing.
10. Concede that they know far more about technology than you do. Never pretend you are more knowledgeable about apps, games, social media, Websites, software, etc., than they are, as they will probably laugh at you behind your back. The best thing you can do is to admit they know things you don’t—and then let them own projects that involve technology.
11. Create a “meaningful” environment. You are probably wondering: Isn’t getting the job done and earning a paycheck enough “meaning”? Nope. Millennials want to be part of a company that is doing something important for your customers and the community. Wherever possible, state the value and benefits your product or service offers customers and where the employees fit into this equation.
12. Lastly, always seek to ensure that your employees feel appreciated, respected, and valued. Reward them for a job well done with a sincere “thank you” and by providing little gifts, such as a $10 Starbucks gift card.
Above all, strive to lead, inspire, and earn the trust of the Millennials on your team. If you do, you will reap the rewards of all the great things they have to offer—and they will stand by your side for years to come.
Stephan Schiffman, author of “Creating Sales Stars” with Gary M. Krebs, has trained more than half a million salespeople at a wide range of international corporations, such as IBM, AT&T, Motorola, Sprint, and Cigna. He is president and founder of D.E.I Management Group. A popular speaker, he has authored numerous bestselling books, including “Cold Calling Techniques (That Really Work!)”and “The 25 Sales Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople.” Schiffman also was rated the #1 Sales Expert in Prospecting by Selling Powermagazine.