Retaining a generation of millennial workers

Millennials represent an increasing share of the Australian workforce and are fast becoming the leaders of today. However, recent studies have found that if given the choice, one in four millennials would quit their job to join a new organisation or to do something different within the year. So how do we retain a generation of millennial workers before they plan their exit strategies?

millennial is anyone born between 1982 and 2004. While it is often reported that millennials are not prepared to make the effort required for career success, it has been found that their attitudes actually mirror those of previous generations. Like their parents, the top five reasons millennials leave their jobs are minimal wage growth, lack of opportunity to advance, excessive overtime hours, an environment that does not encourage teamwork or a boss that doesn’t allow flexible work.

In order to address the millennial loyalty challenge facing Australian businesses today, we need to transform four core dynamics in the workplace.

Flexible work

Opportunities for flexible work are sought by millennials across the world and many are willing to give up other benefits to get it. A recent report by PwC found millennials do not believe that their productivity should be measured by the number of hours they spend at the office, but by the work they produce. They viewed work as a ‘thing’ and not a ‘place’.

XWhile many Australian businesses currently have informal flexible work arrangements for their staff, only seven percent have formal workplace flexibility strategies. We can learn from businesses like Telstra, where flexibility is now standard practice at all levels of the organisation. Telstra staff work from the office and home and are open about where they are. They are trusted to manage their own time and it has created an outcomes focussed environment where staff make the right decisions for the business and their individual needs.

Access to technology is now making this even easier. A recent survey found millennials feel technology frees them to work productively from anywhere. Many businesses are now looking at ways they can leverage technology to increase flexibility, allowing employees to work in different places and on different devices to create authentic virtual connections. High performance is no longer compromised by workplace flexibility.

Development and progression

When millennials were surveyed about initiatives they value the most for professional development and career progression, they reported a desire for competitive pay and knowledge of job opportunities. They were interested in opportunities for global mobility, whether short or long-term, and having mentors was seen as very important. However, less than a quarter of millennials were satisfied with development and progression opportunities at their current workplace.

Cosmetics company L’Oreal consulted with employees and found they had to offer experiences, education and exposure in order for employees to increase their job scope, acquire more knowledge and have supportive mentors. They now have five development centres worldwide, a personalised guidance program for new staff, a management trainee program and offer international assignments through their global opportunity program.

Businesses need to be able to understand what their millennials value to ensure they are investing in the right type of development and progression opportunities. Doing this can help employers to retain talent and develop a high-performing workforce.

Workplace culture

It has been found that millennials are more likely to report high levels of satisfaction if they work in an inclusive culture. In workplaces where this culture exists, employees experience greater job satisfaction, stronger loyalty and higher levels of job performance. It is clear that culture is key to retaining millennial workers.

One business that puts culture first is Squarespace, which is regularly voted as one of the best places to work in New York. The business is flat, open and creative. Their leaders are down-to-earth and employees have direct access to management. They celebrate success, reward their people with flexible vacation time and stimulate ideas and innovation with guest lectures.

To promote an inclusive workplace culture among millennial workers, it’s important for businesses to have open and free flowing communication, encourage new ideas and support ambition.

Life balance

For millennial workers, balance is no longer about work-life balance. It’s all about designing a life which includes work, family, friends and hobbies. Research by Ernst & Young found that millennials are more willing than any other generation to pass up a promotion, take a pay cut and change jobs or even careers to achieve more balance.

Retaining millennial workers requires businesses to adopt policies that promote greater life balance. For some businesses, this might mean their employees disconnect when they leave work. Carmaker Volkswagen has taken this approach, stopping their staff from receiving work emails 30 minutes after the end of their shift until 30 minutes before they return to work in an effort to reduce staff burnout. But more likely, businesses could support their staff by agreeing on outcomes, not working hours, and allowing staff to complete their work in ways that suit them.

If you run a business and are looking to hire someone new, your local jobactive provider can work directly with you to find the right fit. Contact your provider today.