Here's how to attract and keep millennial workers

Source: Getty

The mantra that in the modern economy and jobs market workers will change jobs often over their lifetimes seems to be taken as gospel.

It comes with the clear implication that the changes in technology, the economy, and the working environment are driving this constant job shifting and workers aren’t as troubled by this lack of certainty as their predecessors.

Nothing could be further from the truth it seems, according to the seventh annual Deloitte Millennial Survey.

The survey highlights that millennial workers – those born between January 1983 and December 1994 – aren’t that different from their predecessors. They are uncomfortable about the pace of change in the global economy right now.

Deloitte says their poll of 10,455 millennials across 36 countries shows this generation, “is feeling uneasy about the future. The growth of Industry 4.0 technologies — from robotics and the internet of things, to artificial intelligence and cognitive — has altered the nature of work, while political upheavals challenge the established world order”.

But what’s also clear is that even with this unease about their own future, millennials are holding business to a higher standard and will leave a job at an organisation which is not reflecting the values the millennial worker holds.

A majority of millennials (62% in 2018 from 50% in 2017) agree with the statement that business has “no ambition beyond wanting to make money”, while 75% (up from 59% in 2017) of respondents agreed that business’ only “focus on their own agendas rather than considering the wider society”.

That’s important, Deloitte says, because “the difference between what millennials believe companies should do and what they observe firsthand is not without consequence”. What is clear in the survey is that “business’ actions appear to strongly influence the length of time millennials intend to stay with their employers” (our emphasis).

Falling Loyalty

The survey reflects is that “loyalty levels have retreated to where they were two years ago”, a consequence of the deterioration in millennial workers’ perception of business’ ambition and practice.

That’s important because it means “among millennials, 43 percent envision leaving their jobs within two years; only 28 percent seek to stay beyond five years. The 15-point gap is up from seven points last year” Deloitte says.

And what’s driving this deterioration in loyalty is “the lack of alignment between millennials’ perceptions about corporations’ motivations and their own priorities… Companies that are perceived to be fixated on profits, for example, do not engender loyalty”.

This lack of loyalty and the increased turnover it speaks to naturally comes with higher costs for business’ — staff recruitment, training, and day to day management are just the start.

But the survey also reveals how business can attract and retain millennial staff.

Interestingly, Deloitte says “top of the list for millennials — at least in terms of considering to work for an employer — is the financial rewards”. But that’s not as inconsistent as it may seem with millennial values. Deloitte argues, “it actually is consistent with the idea that employers should ‘share the wealth,’ provide good jobs and enhance workers’ lives”.

Source: Deloitte

Culture, diversity, and personal development are also key areas that can attract and retain millennial staff.

But flexibility has an important role in increasing loyalty too. Consistent with millennials’ values, Deloitte says flexibility drives loyalty because while “millennials appreciate not being tied to strict hours or locations, they also value the trust their employers demonstrate in granting that flexibility”.

Indeed among those who say they will stay five years or more, 55% say flexibility is a key reason behind their intention.

Businesses need to look to who and how it offers flexibility, noting, “while 69 percent of those on senior management teams reported increased flexibility in where and when they work, respondents in junior and midlevel roles report only 36 percent and 40 percent, respectively”.

Australian business needs to work on these aspects of its actions and how it is perceived by its workforce if it wants to retain talent. Indeed with the Deloitte survey showing that millennials increasingly see options in the gig economy as a viable alternative to full-time employment. That’s especially the case because they see it as an avenue to higher incomes.

Deloitte says, if employers don’t rise to the occasion with higher pay and more flexibility, “they could see a large segment of their workforces heading for the exits”.

You can read the full report from Deloitte here.

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