When recruiting early career talent, many companies think installing a foosball table and stocking the breakroom fridge with beer is all you need. What they didn’t expect was the fact that the Millennials and early Gen-Zers joining the workforce now have far more sophisticated needs and desires that won’t easily be swayed by an open office concept and free beer.
Unlike previous generations, Millennials and Gen-Zers are willing to leave their employers to find a company they feel aligns with their values and overall goals. And that’s a good thing: Gallup reports that about 33 percent of Americans are engaged at work. While ThriveMap found that nearly half of all employees have left jobs that didn’t meet their expectations, a whopping 73 percent of Gen Z employees did. Younger workers don’t accept mediocrity, and that’s good for your business.
But how can you keep those early-stage employees with high standards? Here are three tips to help retain early career talent:
1. Rewrite your job descriptions.
According to Amanda Hammett, a global Millennial expert, the No. 1 thing that drives young employees to quit is a lack of trust. Young employees expect the job descriptions they applied, interviewed and were hired for to match the roles they’re carrying out on a daily basis. However, in many situations, that’s not the case, leaving young employees to feel duped from Day 1.
“When Millennials and Gen Z employees feel they cannot trust what they have been told by their employer, the countdown is on until there are gone,” Hammett says. She’s found that many companies are depending on HR to write job descriptions for roles for which they know very little about the day-to-day intricacies. She suggests companies have their rock star employees in each role collaborate with HR to offer a more accurate view of each position to help curb future turnover.
2. Remember that employees are human.
Neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman suggests that the human need to connect socially is as basic as the need for food, water, and shelter. Regardless of the technology surrounding them at every moment — or the label foisted upon them — Millennials and Gen-Zers are human, which means they’re hardwired (like the rest of us) to crave personal connections. They want to know what’s going on in your life, and they want you to know about theirs.
This doesn’t mean you need to spend hours scrolling their Instagram feeds over the weekend. But it does mean having conversations in the office about things other than the latest project or report due. Learning about who they are outside the office shows them you care about them as individuals, and it helps you, too. You can more easily pinpoint the right person for a particular project, opportunity, or mentor based on what you know about your team members’ goals. When Millennial and Gen Z employees feel they’re seen as more than a number and developed, they’re far more likely to develop a stronger bond with you and the rest of the team, which can typically translates to a longer tenure with your company.
3. Accept that you’ll have continuous challenges.
The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that 43% of Millennials and 61% of Gen-Zers plan to leave their current job in the next two years. In order to save yourself and your company a tremendous amount of chaos due to turnover and hiring replacements, have conversations with your early career talent about what kind of skills they’re looking to develop. See if there’s some alignment in your own needs or the needs of another leader within your company.
Delanie Olsen, a marketing specialist at an events company in Chicago, mentioned in a conversation with her boss that she’d like to learn about SEO. A week later, her boss approached her about a class that would require Delanie to be out of the office for a full day. Delanie’s boss thought the SEO class would be a good investment of company time, however, to develop Delanie and her skill set — despite the fact that it didn’t perfectly align with her current role. This one act by her boss dramatically increased Delanie’s loyalty to her company and to her boss because it showed a desire to continually challenge Delanie, as well as further Delanie’s skills as a future asset to the company.
Millennials and Gen Z employees aren’t aliens from another planet. In fact, in most ways, they’re just like every other generation that came before. I recently read a book called Marketing to Gen Z that really helped me think about how I’m engaging the younger generations. I strongly encourage others to consistently educate themselves on how to understand different generations. Changing how you manage early career talent can ensure they not only stay, but also add value for years to come.
By John Hall
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