Employee engagement is hitting an all-time low with only 29 percent of millennials reporting that they are engaged at work. Why is this an issue?
Actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. USD483 billion to USD605 billion each year in lost productivity. These low engagement numbers are leading to significantly low retention rates. Only 31 percent of millennials see themselves staying with their current employer beyond five years. About 62 percent of all millennials exit their company within two years of being hired.
The top three workforce management challenges faced by corporate America are retention, engagement and recruitment. These statistics paint a challenging picture for managers, HR departments and CEOs across America. But these statistics don’t have to be your company’s reality. How can you change the numbers in your favor for your organization? You can make an immediate impact to alter these statistics in your company by embracing and supporting what millennials expect to find from their employer.
1. Meaningful work: While money is important to millennials (they do want competitive pay), what is more important is having a meaningful and fulfilling job. Millennials who derive meaning from their work are more than three times as likely to stay with a company. And having a corporate social responsibility program isn’t enough — millennials are looking for companies that weave purpose into the core business model of the company.
2. Career progression: Millennials don’t leave companies —t hey leave their managers. How do you ensure that you don’t allow valuable assets to walk out your door? Begin offering them opportunities to progress in their career within your company. At least 51 percent of millennials are concerned that they don’t have the key skills to succeed, so be sure to back up these opportunities by providing the training necessary for the employee to develop the skills.
3. Professional development: Millennials don’t want to spend their time just earning a paycheck; they want to invest time acquiring the skills and knowledge they need to grow both personally and professionally. This generation views work through an entirely different lens as compared to previous generations. They prioritize personal fulfillment and professional development (found rarely in the workplace anymore and widely varied at companies that do offer such opportunities) over cash bonuses and 401(k) programs (which are commodities that many companies do provide).
4. Flexibility: Among millennials, 7 percent rank flexibility and work location as being in the top three most important factors in an ideal work environment. They want to work in the way that suits them best. Their extensive use of technology means that the line between work and home has become increasingly blurred. Millennials feel constrained by what they see as outdated traditional working practices.
5. Work/Life balance: One of the biggest distinguishing features between millennials and previous generations is that work does not define them. Family, friends and making a difference in their community are much bigger drivers for this generation. Fifty-four percent of millennial employees have passed up, or are willing to give up, an opportunity for a promotion to better manage a work/life balance. Previous generations treated this balance as setting firm boundaries between work and non-work activities. However; this generation takes a very different view, believing that work/life balance is not setting boundaries. Work/life balance isn’t about the hours worked in a given day, but rather the productivity accomplished. Millennials have collectively shifted their focuses; employers must focus on striking a balance, too, if they hope to attract and engage this generation.
6. Innovation: Millennials generally view innovation as the key purpose of business and just as important as profit. This is a real shift in business dynamics. Millennials want to create and they want to be recognized for their ideas. They are actively seeking companies that support their desire to innovate. In fact, 66 percent of millennials say innovation is critical when selecting a potential employer.
7. Collaboration: Millennials are a collaborative generation. This technology-native generation tweets, links, shares and blogs with each other and the world in general with ease. Is it any wonder they expect a work environment that offers access to the best tools for collaboration? Ensure that your company integrates technology to enable employees to collaborate efficiently.
Keep in mind, millennials don’t inherently want to be job-hoppers; however, they will leave if their companies are not giving them compelling reasons to stay. When they believe their needs are not being met and they see what appears to be a better opportunity, they have every incentive to take it. Taking the time to understand the key factors that drive millennial engagement and retention is just the first step — implementing change is the next step.
This article was written by Debbie Woolridge for “Real Leaders.” Wooldridge is the founding president and CEO of DW Training and Development which helps businesses improve their performance through effective training strategies and programs. Her company has also created The Millennial Project, an interactive two-day workshop that provides companies with the tools and strategic road map needed to improve workforce processes and productivity.