During the last two decades, the workplace has been evolving to prioritize teamwork and eliminate silos. Though it is not an easy task to accomplish, as today’s workforce includes so many generations already. The Baby boomers (1945-1963), Generation Xers (1963-1980), Millennials (1981-1995), and we are now also hiring Generation Z (born after 1995). Every generation has different values, different ways of communicating, and different ways of feeling motivated.
Gen Xers complain that Millennials are not committed, Millennials complain that Gen Xers and not passionate and work too hard, Baby boomers want to call Gen Z on the phone but Gen Z wants to reply by sending a picture.
The problem is that different generations have essentially different working habits, which makes it difficult to sustain a culture across the organization in regards to customer service, safety, or continuous improvement. This disconnection or disengagement impacts the organization resulting in high rates of absenteeism and low retention as per the Gallup State of the American Workplace report.
Millennials and their younger counterparts, Post-Millennials or Generation Z, already represent 40% of the workforce. To attract, recruit and retain these generations, leaders will need to find new and different ways.
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The most affected industries are mainly sales, finance, and IT, which are the preferred ones by these younger generations.
Given that Millennials continuously seek new challenges, it is difficult to keep them in the same position for a long time. Retail businesses, call centers, and business support centers where the professional development is horizontal or most of the positions are "entry-level" will need to look for different strategies to attract, train and retain these employees. A recent Gallup report on the millennial generation reveals that 21% of Millennials say they've changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-Millennials who report the same.
Companies need to be recruiting all the time. From a whitepaper from NextMapping, it says that “Recruiting needs to be a cultural objective and embraced by everyone in the company.” That is why companies are encouraging employees to reach out to their network to find potential candidates. To recruit these generations, it is important to show them the benefits of belonging to the organization, and not just focus on the salary. They are usually interested in being part of organizations that show interest in the community and the environment. They also want to know about career opportunities, training possibilities, flexible hours, and vacations.
To retain employees, you must build an environment that has a clear purpose and fosters loyalty and growth. We call this a shift from Me to a We culture. Millennials and Gen Z constantly require feedback from their leaders to see if they are moving in the right direction. That is why any tool that helps to evaluate and show performance can be useful to motivate young people, especially in very standardized jobs.
Some companies offer platforms with challenges, rankings, and miles to help employees get motivated to reinforce certain activities like selling or learning. Other companies like Zappos give the opportunity to the employees to rate or reward each other. Many companies like GE, Honeywell, Hubspot, Netflix, or Dropbox offer unlimited vacation days and offer more days of maternity and paternity to all or some of their employees.
In the future, the most precious skills will not be the technical skills, but the soft ones, such as creativity, relationship building, and change management. Companies need to develop or re-train existing staff (upskilling) to excel on these skills, as universities are not yet focusing on them. For some companies even the onboarding process is key.
As professionals rank training opportunities as more valuable than promotions learning, offering various learning options matter. Online courses, blogs, and videos are the preferred training tools of the new generations. They like the flexibility of being able to train where, when, and how they want, without having to commute.
While it is not easy to incorporate these new ideas, Millennials and Generation Z will be for many years the largest percentage of the workforce, so being agile to adapt to their needs should be part of the plan of any company. Bear in mind that the turnover cost can be more expansive than we think. The cost to a company of a highly skilled that leaves could be as high as 213% of the cost of one year’s compensation for that role. Does your company want to adapt or keep bearing that loss?