Deloitte chairman David Cruickshank has a secret for keeping millennials happy at work

Millennials — the 18-34 age demographic — are a whole different breed of employees and if we don’t understand how to retain them at work, they can make or break a workforce.

That’s what Deloitte’s Global Chairman David Cruickshank told Business Insider over coffee at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“Millennials are a different demographic to my generation because their expectations from life and work are very different,” said Cruickshank.

“In my generation, most people viewed their careers as long-term at one or two companies, but millennials are a lot more demanding in terms of themselves and expectations at work. They want the places they work for to match their values, they want to be stretched, their tolerance of things they don’t agree with is pretty low and they are certainly a lot more choosy when it comes to where they work.”

Millennials are the next generation of leaders and workforce, and are driving the world’s technological transformation. They’re the group that were born and raised in the internet era and have more skills at an earlier age when it comes to tech. In short, they have the capability of radically enhancing a business, should they choose to work for you.

But in the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016, which had 7,700 respondents from 29 countries during September and October last year, two-thirds of millennials expressed a desire to leave their organisations by 2020. That is a long-term issue for retaining talent.

Talent retention is acute at Deloitte because, as one of the largest four accountancies in the world, it has more than 225,400 employees in over 150 countries, and it takes on a massive slice of graduates each year.

“We take on 62-63,000 graduates a year and they represent a huge part of our workforce. So if we don’t understand them, we’d have a lot of empty shelves, so to say,” said Cruickshank.

“Any business that is dependent on human capital or technology, and actually some parts of financial services, could be adversely affected by this.”

“Millennials want a happy life, a partner, decent income, a lot of freedom, and high job satisfaction. They are demanding.”

The survey showed that 7 in 10 believe their personal values are not shared by the organisations for which they work, so there is an absence of loyalty among millennials.

A cynic might say that millennials are spoiled brats, difficult to keep happy, and there’s not much companies can do to retain them.

David HeadshotDeloitteDeloitte’s global chairman David Cruickshank spoke to Business Insider at Davos.

But Cruickshank says there’s more to it than that, and there are actually quite a few areas that employers can offer to keep them happy while massively benefiting themselves too.

“One of the things that employers can do is give leadership development and career mentoring. Millennials have powerful skills but helping them in this area gives them a lot more direction and fulfils their aspirations to grow and be part of something bigger,” said Cruickshank.

The millennial work spirit is a lot more entrepreneurial. Cruickshank says companies should establish microcosms inside which millennials can flourish.

“Young people are self-starters but they do need the platform to develop leadership skills and support for projects. They want a lot more control. But you can offer that at bigger companies. For example, you can offer ‘smallness’ at a big organisation, like at ours. We have people working on projects that develop young talent which still gives them flexibility and support to flex their wings and come up with their own ideas that make a big impact.

“The top-down directive at companies, which doesn’t give time or space for personal development, just doesn’t work anymore.”

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