After landing his first professional job with one of the largest manufacturers in the world, the millennial reported back to his friends and family, “I LOVE this company. I’m never leaving!” Twelve months later, with exceptional performance ratings, he approached his manager about the administrative nature of his role, expressing his desire for an opportunity to contribute on a more professional level. And the response to this high-performing, well-educated and eager young professional was the classic “back in my day” response that, over and over again, has led the millennial generation of professionals to e-connect with recruiters and voluntarily leave “the best companies to work for” without ever looking back.
Unfortunately, this is a true story; and one that plays out far too often for many companies whose ability to attract and retain their fair share of today’s talent is critical to future success. While some are responding by digging in their heels, and others are quietly replacing lost talent with resources less likely to be recruited, forward-thinking companies are taking an entirely different approach. Given the costly reality of spiraling voluntary separations, these companies are engaging their next generation of leaders to help them update ineffective policies and practices, with residual benefits that include millennial leadership development, and a cutting-edge culture poised and ready for the new 21st Century workforce. While that may seem like a daunting task, it’s really simple and straightforward when you harness the power of millennial employees.
Just as millennials are critical to business growth and sustainability, they are also the most reliable source of information on policies and practices that have a tendency to send them hiking. It’s really as simple as asking, and an electronic survey developed specifically for the millennial mindset provides a wealth of information and a useful gauge to identify and prioritize policy update opportunities. Case in point, one of my manufacturing clients recently discovered that the traditional practice of constant management oversight was causing millennials across every functional area in the organization, to feel disrespected. The survey asked respondents to rate their agreement with statements representing twelve elements that indicate respect to millennials. In every functional area across the organization, millennials gave a high rating to all but one statement, and their response to open questions added volume and urgency to ensure their frustration was clearly communicated; the long-standing view that presence = productivity was an insult, indicating they were not trusted or respected. Needless to say, that practice made the short list for immediate review.
In addition to identifying opportunities for policy improvement, millennials are also incredibly skilled at developing solutions. Collaborative by nature, and undeterred by industry constraints, millennials are eager to contribute to the future direction of the organization. As the pivotal generation in a movement predicted to define a new normal in employment practices, millennials are uniquely positioned to provide valuable insights to help guide organizations through the transformation. By participating in the solution development process, millennials will, by their very nature, keep their peers and colleagues informed, engaged, and eager to support the new way forward. They will be loyal leaders, personally invested in the company’s future.
Finally, if increased retention and leadership development aren’t enough, millennial involvement on work environment issues will very likely create renewed energy throughout the organization, spawned by fresh perspective. Like the generations that came before them, the unique values that define the millennial generation are hard-coded in their input, and by default, will be woven into the fabric of the company culture. As the next generation of leaders, their shared support for diversity, inclusion, and social responsibility will play a critical role in just five short years, giving updated companies a competitive advantage when they turn their attention to the next big employment challenge….attracting and retaining Generation Z.
Abby Foster is the founder of Ahnimisha Consulting. Foster blogs at www.ahnimisha.com, and is a generational dynamics trainer, Human Capital consultant, and a certified Birkman© consultant. She delivers workshops, training seminars, professional coaching, and consulting services utilizing proven tools and techniques to help companies maximize the efforts of every employee in today’s multigenerational workforce.
Contact Abby directly at [email protected]