I don’t mean to frighten you, but I am about to alert you to a dire circumstance many companies are dealing with right now: turnover.
According to Gallup, one fifth of employees born between 1980 and 1996 changes jobs each year, which is three times greater than other age groups. Six out of every ten people in this same age group are actively looking to change jobs. That probably means that on your team, you have maybe one or two people at most who aren’t thinking about leaving or actively trying to do so. That’s a lot of hours you’ve wasted on-boarding, training, coaching, and mentoring these folks.
Who are these job-hopping young professionals? They are—dare I use the word—Millennials. There are over 80 million of them in the workplace, which means that as long ago as 2015 they succeeded the Gen-Xers as the largest percentage of the workforce. This means that, if you manage people, you’d better figure out how to lead and motivate these individuals—fast.
Supervisors and managers are frustrated because they don’t understand that Millennials view the world—especially work—differently. In particular, managers accustomed to “old-school” approaches need to understand the unique perspectives of Millennials and adapt to them with a whole new style guide. The worst thing to do is write them all off as lazy, spoiled and spoon-fed.
To create a Millennial-friendly environment and boost retention, follow these tips:
- Enable team members to work as a group on projects and brainstorm with other departments. One word of caution: Don’t let them go overboard trying to get involved in activities outside their job descriptions. Stretch goals and department interactions should be encouraged, but if employees do too much they’ll get distracted and won’t accomplish their own annual goals.
- Provide plenty of feedback. Saying “Great job!” won’t cut it, even if that is the case. If you aren’t giving them specific guidance each week on every project, they will either think you don’t care or feel under-confident they are doing the job right.
- Offer training. Millennials thrive on training sessions. If you have money in your budget and they have time in their schedules, try to accommodate their needs. But make sure all training feeds the company’s bottom line, as well as the employees’ growth and development.
- Respect work/life balance. Millennials need “flex time.” Again, it may seem lazy—but it isn’t. Young professionals have difficulty separating work and play. Although they may want to start the workday later, they feel that checking work texts and emails at 3:00 AM is still considered “work.”
- Create a “meaningful” environment. You are probably wondering: Isn’t getting the job done and earning a paycheck enough “meaning”? Nope. Millennials want to be part of a company that is doing something important for your customers and the community. In order to accomplish this, always state the value and benefits your product or service offers customers and where the employees fit into this equation.
Above all, strive to lead, inspire and earn the trust of the Millennials on your team. If you do, you will reap the rewards of all the great things they have to offer—and they will stand by your side for years to come.
STEPHAN SCHIFFMAN, author of Creating Sales Stars with GARY M. KREBS, has trained more than half a million salespeople at a wide range of international corporations, such as IBM, AT&T, Motorola, Sprint, and Cigna. A popular speaker, he has authored numerous bestselling books, including Cold Calling Techniques (That Really Work!) and The 25 Sales Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople. Schiffman was also rated the Number One Sales Expert in Prospecting by Selling Power magazine.