Millennials (those born 1988 – 1996) are now well and truly entrenched in the workforce, bringing with them a host of hurdles for SME employers to jump through. They are the digital native generation and they bring with them new skills and the opportunities for SMEs to grow in line with technology – they grew up with it, they know no different. With this opportunity comes the inherent change to work culture and different employee expectations.
The first hurdle is recruitment; how do we attract the talent of today? Reports have found that the average length of employment a new graduate stays with a small business is less than three years.
This hurdle is not completely surprising; no longer do any employees (regardless of generation) seek to have a ‘job for life’. There is now a seemingly constant search for career progression, the next opportunity, a new challenge through social media and loads of new platforms; think social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Indeed, Glassdoor and LinkedIn.
However, Millennials do tend to be a little more restless than older talent. Employees 10 years into their careers are likely to stay an average of 5-10 years rather than the 2-3 years of the Millennials.
Millennials have different expectations and ambitions than those that came before them. They desire a work-life balance and access to technology that allows them the ability to work when and where they want. And if they don’t get it, you can be assured that you will definitely hear about it. Studies suggest that just under 50% of Millennials would change jobs if they could improve both their work-life balance and/or have more flexible work opportunities. The more flexible an employer can be the more likely people will view your business as an employer of choice.
How do we keep them?
Understanding that they just approach work in a different way first and foremost along with educating and empowering leaders in the business to be open and collaborative will help with employee engagement and also give you competitive advantage in the “age of the entrepreneur”.
Yes, Millennials are growing up but as Bersin notes, ‘they’re not going to suddenly change their behaviour just because they’ve gotten a management job.’ To be managed, and to manage they need to feel that they are understood, valued and appreciated.
It’s our responsibility now to learn the stories of the Millennials to best ensure they are nurtured and their talents are encouraged to the profitable benefit of the organisation. Too often we see Millennials with amazing talent and ideas moving on just because the technology, the work flexibility and the company culture has not evolved in line with the needs and expectations of this new generation of workers. Despite the technological advances, despite the online nature of communications, today’s human resources hurdles pertaining to Millennials sits squarely in the fact that the person must come first. If your company culture and values prioritise this -then employing Millennials can be like running on the flat rather than jumping daily hurdles and stumbling if the rhythm isn’t quite right.
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