I was speaking to a Manager the other day who is having issues with some of his younger staff. The Millennials, Generation Ys, call them what you will. He was telling me that he feels he has to ‘mollycoddle’ them to get them to engage with work and really, he thinks they should be just getting on with it. After all, he had to just knuckle down and fit in. No-one pandered to his every whim just to get him to do his job. He was expected to ‘serve his time’ (his words), learn from experience and patiently wait for a promotion to come along.
He’s not alone in his opinions. Many Managers are struggling to build good working relationships with the younger generation and get the best out of them because each generation may not understand the needs and wants of the other. The result is likely to be that the employee becomes dissatisfied, disengaged and leaves after a short time, which is expensive and disruptive. Millenials get a reputation for being flighty and disloyal. Employers feel frustrated, believe that all Millennials are challenging, have little respect and are impossible to manage. It also leaves them with a bill to recruit a replacement, on-board them and get them up to speed with the job. The last figures I saw for replacing a leaving member of staff was along the lines of £32,000 taking into account recruitment costs, loss of productivity etc.
What do Millennials really want?
The world of work is changing and Millennials are driving that change. They want something different to that which went before. They are less driven purely by money and progression and more by work life balance. They want stimulating work and to be proud and passionate about what they do. Values are very important to them and they’ll soon see through yours if they are not authentic.
They expect more from work and unless you accept this and embrace it you are going to have to accept that you’ll have a continual, costly high churn rate – and probably recruitment problems.
They have amazing strengths, the energy and drive of youth coupled with a connectedness to the world and technological skills way beyond us, older, ones.
If you harness and direct their strengths, develop and engage with them you can keep your younger staff for longer.
I was lucky enough to hear Kathy Allison and James Caan speak on this the other day.
Kathy is the head of HR at FitFlop, a 200-person retail company that sells healthy footwear. The trick, she says, when recruiting and retaining top talent is by talking with them about their career aspirations, even if this isn’t with you.
This builds a partnership with employees so they can fulfill their goals whilst also helping the company. Of course, she pointed out that FitFlop hopes to have employees build their career within their company, but they also help them get jobs elsewhere if there isn’t a clear path for them to pursue with FitFlop.
The reason for doing this is it keeps employees engaged, but also helps FitFlop’s employer brand and that’s going to increase the demand of millennials wanting to work for the company.
Another advantage of this is that the employers that leave become great ambassadors for your company – never underestimate how connected they are and how much they can influence your talent attraction via social media.
James Caan, CEO of the Hamilton Bradshaw Group, and a Dragon of Dragon’s Den, said the biggest key to recruiting and retaining millennials is to encourage them to challenge the status quo. Rather than having a culture of young employees doing what they are told – a “command-and-control model” – it is crucial to have all employees within your organisation able to suggest better ways to do things.
First off, this builds a much stronger culture that employees of all generations will love, including millennials, Caan said. But it’s also what’s best for the business.
This is a great idea as employee engagement is tough and Millennial employee engagement is tougher still. Involving them in your company, the development of your culture and making them part of the future means they want to stay because they are being appreciated, they are learning and they feel their opinions count.
So, two great lessons from two very successful people experienced in leading Millennials.
One last thought, if you are still reluctant to embrace and understand the Generation Y culture and thinking you might want to rethink because very soon, if not now, most of your clients or customers are going to be Millenials.
If you would like to learn more either contact me to chat or click here to book one of our free seminars being held across Surrey where you can learn more about how to attract, retain and develop your Millennials. Or if you would like help to get the employee you want then I invite you have a conversation. Whether or not we decide to do business together, I am confident that our call will be full of insights and actionable steps that can help you.