Organisations are asking – where has the loyalty from our employees gone? The Millennial generation (those born between the years 1980 and 2000) have borne the brunt of comments that the new generation is simply not as loyal or as dedicated as their counterparts. A recent survey run by Deloitte revealed that 44% of Millennials within the next 2 years will voluntarily choose to leave their employer, to change their career or gain experience in another organisation, and it is true that priorities appear to be changing. Gone are the times where celebrating a 15 year milestone within the same company is a reflection of success on your resume. Breadth in one’s work experience history, experience leading key projects, undertaking further study, and diverse skill sets appear to be the guiding indicators of success for the new generation.

This is a marked change in job seeker attitudes, presenting new challenges for recruiters and HR. But perhaps rather than asking “where is the loyalty”, organisations should be asking “why is loyalty and job security not a priority for our workforce now? what ARE their priorities?” Our Millennials in Australia have seen significant economic and social changes in their time influencing attitudes to work, including post labour market deregulation, the global economic crisis, increased casual employment (and temporary workforce), increase in moving towards part-time rather than standard hours of work (flexible work arrangements), and technological advances making work on an international platform more accessible than ever.

dilbert millennials

The consequence is that our workforce is learning to adapt to the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous work landscape. And rather than fearing change, Millennials seem very content to job-hop to gain experience, balance multiple jobs at once (allowing them to pursue their passions alongside income), and to take a risk for their career – if the development opportunities are available and appealing enough. They are facing tough job prospects, with qualified graduates taking around 4 months and longer to find full-time employment. And while once upon a time a promotion was only really achieved by rising up the ranks within a company, there is now no difference between promotion patterns for job hoppers versus loyal employees. Millennials may rightly be asking themselves – what is the advantage of staying with a company long term, when in the current market, so much diversity of experience is expected?

So, rather than talking about generational differences, are we not simply talking about the priorities and expectations of what our future workforce do and will expect from employers?  Let us look at some statistics cited about Millennials:

  • 92% of Millennials are on the lookout for other opportunities while employed. They are still just as engaged and satisfied – but are just very open to what is on the market. But is this not a trend that we should all be adopting in the current work climate?
  • Millennials identify career progression (52%), competitive wages/financial incentives (44%) and training and development (35%) as important workplace qualities when considering a move. However, don’t we all see these as important factors when making important career move decisions?
  • 88% of Millennials would like work flexibility, such as setting their own hours, and working from home. However, wouldn’t we all benefit from such flexible work arrangements, given we are all mothers or fathers or carers or rather HUMANS?
  • Millennials want clarity and support from management. When it comes to performance management, they want to clearly know what success looks like and have a road map for where they are heading in the next 2 years. Yearly performance appraisals won’t cut the mustard – Millennials want to be able to easily track their progress and have those weekly developmental coaching and mentoring conversations with their managers, so they feel they are reaching their potential. But wouldn’t we all benefit from such priorities?

Perhaps we have our new generation of Millennials to thank. They have high expectations and don’t appear to be afraid of confidently articulating their priorities, developmental needs and aspirations. While not new concepts, the way in which we strategically attract, select, develop, and retain employees will be more important than ever. I would encourage you to do a health check of your organisation. Ask yourself:

  • Are we recruiting for short term gains or long term matches? What to avoid in this competitive market is rushed decision making leading to poor quality hire. Performance alone won’t predict longer term partnership from Millennials. Investment needs to be made in the recruitment process and onboarding to identify the right cultural fit. To achieve this, firstly organisations should define what success looks like in their business. Secondly, define the key motivators that should drive people to succeed. Thirdly, understand what are the factors that will foster commitment and engagement from their workforce. And match people to roles accordingly.
  • How are we developing our people? Investment into talent management programs, employee reward schemes, leadership development and coaching, workforce planning and workplace analytics (e.g., using worker-related data to predict the probability of an individual employee’s success) are key ways to try and retain talent. This can put time and cost strains on HR, so it is important to partner with external consultants who you trust to assist in this process while also being strategic in your investments. Not everything needs to be implemented at once. Running a simple pulse survey may be a great cost effective solution to Identifying what the priorities are for your business and employees.

If after all of this you are still scratching your head and unsure what to do, give us a call, we would be only too happy to help!

Kaitlan Laurie – Consultant

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