When recruiting early career talent, many companies think installing a foosball table and stocking the breakroom fridge with beer is all you need.
What they didn’t expect was the fact that the Millennials and early Gen-Zers joining the workforce now have far more sophisticated needs and desires that won’t easily be swayed by an open office concept and free beer.
Unlike previous generations, Millennials and Gen-Zers are willing to leave their employers to find a company they feel aligns with their values and overall goals. And that’s a good thing: Gallup reports that about 33 percent of Americans are engaged at work. While ThriveMap found that nearly half of all employees have left jobs that didn’t meet their expectations, a whopping 73 percent of Gen Z employees did. Younger workers don’t accept mediocrity, and that’s good for your business.
But how can you keep those early-stage employees with high standards? Here are three tips to help retain early career talent:
1. Rewrite your job descriptions.
According to Amanda Hammett, a global Millennial expert, the No. 1 thing that drives young employees to quit is a lack of trust. Young employees expect the job descriptions they applied, interviewed and were hired for to match the roles they’re carrying out on a daily basis. However, in many situations, that’s not the case, leaving young employees to feel duped from Day 1.
“When Millennials and Gen Z employees feel they cannot trust what they have been told by their employer, the countdown is on until there are gone,” Hammett says. She’s found that many companies are depending on HR to write job descriptions for roles for which they know very little about the day-to-day intricacies. She suggests companies have their rock star employees in each role collaborate with HR to offer a more accurate view of each position to help curb future turnover.
2. Remember that employees are human.
Neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman suggests that the human need to connect socially is as basic as the need for food, water, and shelter. Regardless of the technology surrounding them at every moment — or the label foisted upon them — Millennials and Gen-Zers are human, which means they’re hardwired (like the rest of us) to crave personal connections. They want to know what’s going on in your life, and they want you to know about theirs.
This doesn’t mean you need to spend hours scrolling their Instagram feeds over the weekend. But it does mean having conversations in the office about things other than the latest project or report due. Learning about who they are outside the office shows them you care about them as individuals, and it helps you, too. You can more easily pinpoint the right person for a particular project, opportunity, or mentor based on what you know about your team members’ goals. When Millennial and Gen Z employees feel they’re seen as more than a number and developed, they’re far more likely to develop a stronger bond with you and the rest of the team, which can typically translates to a longer tenure with your company.
3. Accept that you’ll have continuous challenges.
The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that 43% of Millennials and 61% of Gen-Zers plan to leave their current job in the next two years. In order to save yourself and your company a tremendous amount of chaos due to turnover and hiring replacements, have conversations with your early career talent about what kind of skills they’re looking to develop. See if there’s some alignment in your own needs or the needs of another leader within your company.
Delanie Olsen, a marketing specialist at an events company in Chicago, mentioned in a conversation with her boss that she’d like to learn about SEO. A week later, her boss approached her about a class that would require Delanie to be out of the office for a full day. Delanie’s boss thought the SEO class would be a good investment of company time, however, to develop Delanie and her skill set — despite the fact that it didn’t perfectly align with her current role. This one act by her boss dramatically increased Delanie’s loyalty to her company and to her boss because it showed a desire to continually challenge Delanie, as well as further Delanie’s skills as a future asset to the company.
Millennials and Gen Z employees aren’t aliens from another planet. In fact, in most ways, they’re just like every other generation that came before. I recently read a book called Marketing to Gen Z that really helped me think about how I’m engaging the younger generations. I strongly encourage others to consistently educate themselves on how to understand different generations. Changing how you manage early career talent can ensure they not only stay, but also add value for years to come.
Talent is not always easy to come by in today’s job market. With employers pulling out all the stops to attract the best candidates, from speeding up the hiring process to personalizing job offers, every new hire might feel like a win.
However, your efforts to prove your company is a great place to work should not end once an offer is accepted. If you want to keep your employees around, you need to show that you have made an investment in their careers by offering strong professional development.
If you don’t offer learning and growth opportunities, your employees will take their professional development into their own hands by seeking employers who do. Professional development is something you need to start taking seriously. According to our firm’s recent report, 78% of employers say they are providing training or development opportunities to help employees learn new skills, although the majority of professionals don’t agree. This points to a clear disconnect between employers and their staff.
All professionals can benefit from employee development, but many employers don’t realize how these programs can help them make a powerful investment in their company’s future success. Here are five ways:
1. Combat The Skills Shortage
The widening skills gap can greatly impact a company’s ability to grow. This is why professional development is so critical. Instead of endlessly searching for professionals who check off a list of pre-set requirements and expectations, employers should invest in training not only to help their new staff and current employees develop the skills needed for success in their roles, but also to ensure the company doesn’t fall behind competitors.
Giving employees access to projects to help keep their skills up to date and work with more senior staff is a useful way to help them envision a path toward advancement and equip them with the experience they’ll need for future success.
2. Stay Up To Date With Industry And Tech Trends
Since the most talented professionals have their finger on the pulse of the latest industry and tech trends, offering professional development is an important way to empower them to use this knowledge to your company’s advantage. To do this, let your employees take charge by asking them what and how they would like to learn. As long as they understand the budget you’ve set and can explain how their plan can benefit the organization in the long run, they’ll be able to find something that works for both parties.
3. Increase Engagement And Reduce Turnover
Many professionals believe that learning new skills is one of the best ways to continue advancing in their careers. If they do not feel challenged or excited by their work, they’ll start losing their motivation and become less productive as a result. This will lead to high levels of disengagement and turnover.
In our research, 86% of respondents said they would change jobs if it meant more opportunities for professional development. Employers must understand that professionals are prioritizing their own marketability when making career decisions. Knowing that their employer is willing to provide them with learning opportunities will help employees see their value and encourage them to stay loyal to the organization. LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report found that 94% of employees would stay with a company longer if it invested in their career.
To recognize and nurture talent, you need to get to know your staff on a more personal level. Open the lines of communication so they feel comfortable telling you what professional development they’re looking for. This can help you better accommodate each employee, creating an environment that will make it more likely that they will rise through the ranks at your organization. Also, be transparent about where they stand in terms of moving up: Those who know that they are up for promotions will likely work harder.
4. Aid In Succession Planning
Professional development is a long game. All employees, from entry level to experienced managers, should be continuously learning throughout their careers. Planning for the future by giving employees more opportunities to learn and work toward leadership positions will become critical as more baby boomers retire and younger employees take their place. To fill these gaps, employers need to ensure less-experienced team members are ready to take on these added responsibilities. Here are some simple ways to do this:
• Offer employee mentorship opportunities. Having more-experienced employees serve as role models is a great way to develop employees in a one-to-one environment. A more experienced mentor can help newer employees learn the ropes and make valuable contributions, while the mentee can help senior staff leverage newer technologies and platforms to increase efficiency.
• Start a leadership development program. Younger talent should have the opportunity to develop their leadership skills before they’re given the title. This program can provide them with the tools they need to move up within your organization and grow in their careers.
5. Attract Better Talent
Word gets out when your employees feel valued, are continuously learning and are promoted from within. Having a reputation as a company that prioritizes professional development will not only help set you apart from other companies when hiring, but also attract candidates who are motivated to learn. These forward-thinking employees will take full advantage of your professional development programs, ultimately leveraging them to help your business succeed.
Incorporating professional development into your recruitment strategy will become even more critical as millennials take over the workforce. According to Deloitte, 71% of millennials who are likely to leave an organization within two years are dissatisfied with how their leadership skills are being developed. As a result, opportunities for professional development should be mentioned throughout all stages of the hiring process, from your job postings and initial phone screenings to the final offer stage.
Have you ever reacted to organizational change by rolling your eyes and quietly saying to yourself, “Here we go again”? Or by not so quietly telling others, “Haven’t we tried this before?
Changes at work can be emotionally intense, sparking confusion, fear, anxiety, frustration, and helplessness. Experts have even said that the experience of going through change at work can mimic that of people who are suffering from grief over the loss of a loved one. Because change can be so physically and emotionally draining, it often leads to burnout and puts into motion an insidious cycle that leads to even greater resistance to change.
No one wants to be an obstacle to change, instinctively resisting any new initiatives or efforts. It’s not good for you, your career, or your organization. Improving your adaptability, a critical emotional intelligence competency, is key to breaking this cycle. Fortunately, this is a skill that can be learned. In fact, in our work as coaches, it’s often a priority for our clients. They’re tired of feeling frustrated and angry about changes at work, and they want to be seen as adaptable rather than resistant.
Next time your organization introduces a big change, consider these four emotional intelligence strategies to help you embrace the change rather than brace for it:
Identify the source of your resistance. Understanding the underlying reasons for your resistance requires a high level of self-awareness. For example, if you’re resisting because you’re worried that the change will make you look incompetent, you can create a learning plan for the new skills you will need in order to be successful. Or, if you’re concerned that the change will interfere with your autonomy, you can ask the people leading the effort how you can be involved in the process. Even if you don’t like the direction the organization is moving, being involved in the implementation may help you regain a sense of control and reduce your urge to resist.
Question the basis of your emotional response. Our emotional reactions to change often reflect our interpretations – or “stories” – that we convince ourselves are true. In actuality, our stories are often subconscious and seldom in line with reality. Ask yourself: What is my primary emotion associated with this change? Is it fear, anger, frustration? Once you identify the emotion, ask what that’s about? What do I believe to be true that’s making me angry/fearful/frustrated? This type of questioning helps to illuminate the stories driving our emotions and influence our perceptions.
As an example, a senior executive in the transportation industry identified her intense emotional reaction as anger. As she continued to question the basis of her anger, she discovered an underlying story: she was powerless and a victim to the impending change initiative. With this new awareness she was able to separate her emotional reaction and “story” from the actual events. This allowed her to identify several options to take on new leadership responsibilities for a major aspect of the change initiative. With these new opportunities to take back her power, her mentality shifted from thinking that the changes were happening to her, to focusing on how she could take on a leadership role that would create new opportunities for both her career and the organization.
Own your part in the situation. It’s not always easy to fess up to the part we play in creating a negative situation. A self-aware person reflects on how their attitudes and behaviors contribute to their experience of the change. For example, let’s say that you’ve noticed yourself becoming increasingly and more immediately tense each time you hear of a new change. Practicing mindfulness will allow you to examine your feelings and how they are affecting your attitude. Any negativity or pessimism is going to impact your behavior, performance, and well-being (and not in a good way). By reflecting on how your initial reaction contributes to a negative chain of events, it’ll be easier to adjust your attitude to be more open to considering new perspectives, which will ultimately change the way you react to everything.
Turn up your positive outlook: Things may feel a little bleak when you don’t agree with a new change, but studies show that having a positive outlook can open us up to new possibilities and be more receptive to change. Asking yourself a few simple questions will help you think more optimistically. First, ask yourself Where are the opportunities with this change? And then, How will these opportunities help me and others?
For example, one of our clients recently went through a major organizational change. Over the previous 18 months, he had led the turnaround and sale of a division for his former company and had just accepted a new role as President with a new firm. He knew this wasn’t something he would’ve been able to do a few years earlier. But he had worked hard to move from being a “problem solver” to an “opportunity finder.” He explained how our work together prepared him: “I was always playing defense, focusing on how to minimize our exposure or losses in any situation. As we began to shift my focus from how to minimize losses to find opportunities, everything changed. I shifted from playing defense to offense. I began to see opportunities that were invisible to me before. Now, it’s hard-wired into how I think.”
The ability to quickly and easily adapt to change is often a competitive advantage for a leader. Next time you feel yourself resisting, use the four approaches above to build momentum and psychological energy for you and others. Make the intentional choice not just to embrace change but to positively propel it forward.
HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW-Kandi Wiens & Darin Rowell
Resilience in the workplace is a leading issue for boards, CEOs, and the People and Culture leadership.
The workplace drivers for resilience are clear:
- People and teams in flow multiply productivity
- Mental skills – specifically situation agility – are essential
- Productivity requires emotional maturity and collaboration
- People need support in wellbeing and lifestyle disciplines
- Change and complexity require bounce and mental fitness
- Solving digital overload and distraction are essential
- Solutions for increasing anxiety and depression are urgent
- Mental health is a lead safety concern
With over 20 years’ experience, our team has delivered resilience training and solutions to businesses, government, schools, competitive sports and entrepreneurs.
Here are 30 ways we have identified to build workplace resilience:
1. Start with the CEO and board.
Resilience is a strategic issue for all workplaces. There are critical risks if your people’s resilience fails and significant advantages to all aspects of human productivity when resilience is secured. When the CEO and board support and lead the initiative, employees are more confident in the approach.
2. Define resilience clearly.
Resilience is a learned ability, through practical skills, that enables our capacity to bounce in adversity, grow our master skills, connect with others and find flow in work. Having a common definition of resilience enables individuals and teams to build insight and activate the right response when required.
3. Frame resilience in the positive.
With the right skills adversity and challenge become a force for engagement, collaboration, innovation and organisational strength. Resilience is more than just bouncing back from challenges – it is a web of competencies that enable us to lead a safe, well and effective life.
4. Use resilience as a framework.
Integrate, align and simplify your people initiatives including safety, mental health, well-being, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, leadership and high performing teams. Fragmented programmes can cause confusion and apathy when teams are already feeling the pressure. Using a common framework builds consistency and reliability.
5. Socialise the idea.
Involve your people in dialogue around the concept of resilience and the benefits.
6. Create enthusiasm for action.
Invite speakers and encourage people to share stories and favourite examples of resilience in action.
7. Offer all staff a Resilience Diagnostic.
A confidential, voluntary and secure assessment is essential. Ensure that each participant receives an actionable and educational report.
8. Examine the company aggregate report.
While protecting individuals, the data can be aggregated to show where your risks and strengths lie. This will guide your solution.
9. Engage the team in an effective debrief.
It is essential that each participant has the opportunity to understand what the report means and how they can use it as a platform to drive their resilience building plan.
10. Plan targeted workshops.
From your company report define the key points of focus and engage the right team to train and support your teams.
11. Make digital training and support available.
Workshops, videos, practice tips, self-assessments and a simple research resource can be on every device.
12. Encourage people to share with family.
Resilience is always closely intertwined with resilience at home. Let your people share resources with family.
13. Invite family to a workshop.
This can be a great way to build community and make a real contribution to the families that support your people.
14. Train leaders to support resilience.
Leaders must understand the concepts, learn to walk-the-talk in their own behaviours and explicitly coach for resilience.
15. Leaders must understand how resilience fails.
Be sure to train your leaders and managers to recognise the signs of resilience failure and make sure they understand the basics of attention disorders, autism, anxiety and depression.
16. Be sure your EAP is engaged.
Let your EAP provider know what you are doing and make sure your people know that support is available.
17. Don’t rely on a workshop to solve resilience.
Resilience can only grow when people are encouraged to practice the skills. Have regular training and learning labs.
18. Integrate resilience into team behaviours.
Expect team managers to understand how bounce, tactical calm, personal mastery, empathy, focus and flow support a team’s work.
19. Create and maintain rhythm.
People are not computers. We work best in short bursts of intense activity with brief effective breaks. Make sure the office supports regular breaks and disciplined bursts of activity.
20. Provide goal setting and tracking.
Modern apps and wearables allow people to set goals and track progress. This can be a powerful force for constructive change.
21. Remove junk food and sugar drinks.
Provide healthy options.
22. Organise fresh fruit bowls for each office.
Not expensive and powerfully symbolic.
23. Bring natural light into the office.
Natural light, plants, greenery and views lift productivity.
24. Encourage walk and talk meetings.
This supports rhythm, movement and and a deeper form of communication.
25. Send out weekly tips on practical actions.
Make the practice tips bright fun and visible in public places.
26. Encourage social activities around resilience.
Make it fun, social and sometimes competitive.
27. Campaign for resilience over at least three years.
Repetition and mastery matter.
28. Reward people and teams that achieve.
Look out for those who demonstrate success and celebrate their story.
29. Keep your leaders visible and active.
When your people see leaders paying attention to and working on their own practices you gain momentum.
30. Repeat the Diagnostic.
We recommend that the diagnostic can be done twice yearly. Learn what is working and keep improving your strategic resilience.