Stop Retaining Millennial Talent

March 25th 2018
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@AndysHVCAndy Ayim

Gulf News

In my recent article I shared that by 2030, Millennial's will make up 75% of the workforce and re-shape how we work.

This article is a guide on how to attract and let go of top Millennial talent. I know it sounds kinda crazy but unlike most, I have accepted that Millennial’s move jobs every three years. Yet employers still recruit and attempt to retain Millennial’s as if it is a job for life.

In an alliance at work, the tour of duty represents an ethical commitment by employer and employee to a specific mission that’s expected to last a finite amount of time. An ideal mission is mutually beneficial: the company gains new products, customers, profits, etc. and the employee gains new skills, experiences, connections, and so on. — Reid Hoffman

So much noise has been created about the “Millennial problem with work” or “How Millennial’s are lazy.” Whilst employers are increasingly struggling with the question of “how do I attract and retain the best staff?”

With Millennial’s I feel that employers need to re-visit specifically recruiting growth & development and retention.

1. Recruiting

“Companies used to call me ‘hard to reach,’ the truth is that they didn’t try hard enough to reach me.”

The thing too many companies get wrong is that they hire based on:

1. Finding like-minded people that past the pub test

2. Finding the right skills

3. Finding someone with growth potential that aligns to company values

Great hiring managers should really be focusing on value alignment, growth potential and skills in that order. Building diverse and inclusive teams means for a lot of hiring managers acknowledging their unconscious bias’ and ensuring they are not hiring just like-minded people.

Agreeing on a win-win scenario is the biggest stumbling block for employers. Currently, Millennial’s believe (75 percent) of businesses are focused on their own agendas rather than helping to improve society according to the Deloitte Millennial Survey.

2. Growth and Development

Too many employers introduce staff to their values during induction then don’t reference them again until year-end annual reviews. During this process employees are expected to retro fit feedback into an arbitrary framework based on these same values. Many do so with the goal of achieving a bonus, pay increase or promotion.

The Alliance

This is horrible and promotes the wrong behaviours. Hiring managers need to establish trust and understand the aspirations of the individual upfront and what opportunities can be provided to enable the company to contribute to the individual achieving their personal goals. Hiring managers have the job of mapping individual goals to company goals to ensure their is a fitting mission for the individual to complete that is mutually beneficial (this is known as a ‘tour of duty’).

HR tech for things like measuring performance and KPAs are poor and focused too much on the enterprise and not the consumer. I am surprised still that companies shoe-horn employees into using Performance Tracking software that selfishly focuses only on the company agenda and not the individuals. It should be the reverse and the software should strive to support the consumer in developing across the span of their career, regardless where they work. Employers should benefit from the insight provided by such software on the employees goals, skills, training taken and development areas they can contribute to.

3. Retention

“Regardless of your job title, we are all in the relationship building business.”

Finally, on retention, companies still hire and manage employees like we have for over 50 years. Although the tenure for employees has changed from life-long careers to an average of 3 years in a role. Data doesn’t exist in the UK, but in the US, the average tenure of workers aged 55 to 64 was 10.1 years, more than 3x the 2.8 years of workers aged 25 to 34, according to US statistics.

No one invests in long term relationships. Employers lose valuable people as they fail to commit to understanding personal goals and development plans of employees. Employees continuously scan the market and leave when a better job comes along where they can grow and develop more. The employee-employer relationship is broken.

The world has changed rapidly, in part due to the accelerated pace of change in technology. The role of HR will need to change to adapt to this more fluid pipeline of workers. I believe HR of the future should play a better role in understanding, managing and building long term relationships with talent. HR should have members responsible for three additional responsibilities:

  1. Mutually beneficial contracts (both employee and employer should be clear on the finite timescale of employment and what both parties will gain in value e.g. more profit for the employer+ more skills for employee).
  2. Building and maintaining the alumni network (could lead to re-hires and referrals and therefore lower the cost of recruitment).
  3. Helping employees find new jobs (this would help companies forecast when people want to leave, assist them in getting a great role that aligns to their aspirations and maintain a great relationship when they land a job).
The paradox of retention

Building an effective network for employer and employees, is about focusing on what you can do for other people, not what they can offer you. Companies focus too much on what individuals can do for them and not enough on what they can do in a value exchange for individuals.

People want to forge in-depth, mutually-beneficial relationships based on shared values and mutual appreciation of each other. I think companies should all strive to want this too. The best way for companies to manage flexible workers is to be more flexible themselves.



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