Millennials. Described as uncommitted and self-involved by some; this generation born between 1981 – 1997 is also the most educated, open-minded, well-traveled, digitally capable and has the potential to be the greatest generation of all.  From Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, in his hoodie, earning his first billion by the age of 23 , to Brian Chesky, CEO of Air BnB leading a team of 2368, millennials are already in senior positions around the world. According to Statistics New Zealand, Millennials now make up the single largest age group in the labour force.

However with two-thirds of Millennials expressing a desire to leave their organisation by 2020, an organisations ability to attract, develop, and retain these young leaders will make or break them in the coming years.

As organisations come to terms with these troubling statistics questions are raised; how do we win over the next generation of leaders? And what does this mean for businesses around the world?

New global research by Deloitte and other similar studies uncovered some very interesting findings of these new managers. Harnessing the talent and loyalty of this generational cohort will be absolutely critical to the next 10 -15 years.

Millennials – What defines and drives them?

According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey where they collected views from nearly 7700 millennials from 29 countries, the majority of those surveyed believed they will have left their organisations before 2020 has passed. Furthermore, Chief executives from the around the world have cited attracting and retaining these talented younger workers as one of their biggest talent challenges, according to PricewaterhouseCooper’s 14th annual chief executive officer (CEO) survey.

Deloitte believes there are four main reasons why millennials are hard to attract and retain; a perceived lack of leadership skill development and feelings of being overlooked, compounded by larger issues of a conflict in values and the desire for flexibility and work/life balance are at the core. Understanding and combating these factors is crucial as Millennials no longer have the potential to influence the fortunes, they already do so.

Many studies believe that a major contributor to the “Loyalty Challenge” is that not enough is being done to ensure new generations of leaders are being developed.

According to the Harvard Business Review, businesses are not providing much in the way of formal development, such as; training, mentoring, and coaching— all things that millennials have highlighted they valued.

In the Deloitte Survey, 71% of those looking to leave in the next two years also stated their leadership skills were not being developed. The most loyal of the millennial felt like they had a lot of support and training available should they wish to take on leadership roles.

So why the disconnect? Employers may be reluctant to invest in formal training on workers who might not stay. But this creates a vicious circle where companies won’t train workers because they might leave, whilst workers won’t stay because they are not being trained.

Mark Sandborn, the award-winning author once said “What if we train them and they leave?” To which the answer was “what if we don’t and they stay?” By offering promising young managers a more balanced menu of development opportunities, employers have the opportunity to boost loyalty and combat the loyalty challenge.

According to the Deloitte research Millennials are also heavily influenced by personal values at all stages of their careers as evident in their employers they choose, projects they accept  and decisions they make. While they may judge the impact of business to be positive, and think business behaves in an ethical manner, most Millennials have no problem standing their ground when asked to do something that conflicts with their personal values.

Globally, 56 percent of Millennials have “ruled out ever working for a particular organisation because of its values or standard of conduct.”

Against popular belief millennials would much rather seek a good work-life balance, own a home, find a life partner,  live comfortably and make a positive contribution to their organisation’s success, over fame and fortune. They do not select employers by the “buzz “surrounding them but rather on what it does and how it treats people.

82% of Millennials believe they will stay for at least another 5 years in an organisation if their personal values are shared by the organisation they work for.

Millennia’s value organisations that; put employees first, have a solid foundation of trust and integrity, practice customer care, provide high-quality products and that are environmentally and socially responsible.

Pay and financial benefits drive the Millennials choice of organisation more than anything else, however if a millennial is choosing between two organisations offering similar financial incentives, the above factors come into play.

What can organisations do if they don’t want to get into bidding wars over talented individuals? Many studies suggest that when financial benefits are removed from the equation, work-life balance and the opportunity to progress, or take leadership opportunities are very important.

Allan + Clarke, a public policy firm, based in Wellington is an excellent example of a company doing it right.  Known for their people-centric approach, Allan + Clark have a positive work culture centred on encouragement and learning. Their values are aligned with looking after their employees, supporting their community and ethically serving their clients and customers.

From an international perspective, Virgin Media also have the right recipe when it comes to attracting great talent. Richard Branson once said; “train people well enough so they leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to”.

Organisations with the happiest and most loyal millennials had greater tendencies to have a culture that supports; open and free flowing communications, encouragement of idea sharing , mutual support and tolerance, strong sense of purpose beyond financial success, strong commitment to equality and inclusiveness and most importantly, the support and understanding of the ambitions of younger employees.

Millennials are most happy in cultures where there is a creative, inclusive culture (76%) rather than a more authoritarian rule based approach.

If the millennial could design the work week, more time would be devoted to discussing new ideas, coaching, mentoring and developing leadership skills than currently present.

Lastly, millennials who feel in more control appear to be more loyal.  Millennials express a greater sense of control if they work in organisations that support their ambitions align with their values and feature a collaborative working culture, and have a strong sense of purpose.

Javier Prabo, Business tutor at the National Tertiary Education Consortium believes organisations who offer flexible working arrangements, provide meaningful work and offer leadership programmes that support career development such as mentoring are more successful at retaining millennial talent than those who do not. Any successful organisation will need to be flexible, provide a good work-life balance and invest in leadership if they want to survive.

In Summary:

Organisations looking to retain and or attract millennials need to; build loyalty through leadership, career development and appreciation, align corporate to millennial goals and values and create a good company culture that is open and allows flexibility.

Attracting and retaining the best of this generation is curtail to the success of any business according to Fiona Hewitt, Chief Executive for IMNZ. Hewitt believes that if anything, Millennials are the best- placed generation to develop as leaders, because they understand the realities of today’s rapidly changing world, they are the most educated generation in history and they are all about leading by example. After all the future is no longer coming, the future is here and change is the only constant.

written by Mela Hajderaj

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