During the next 15 years the most skilled and senior employees at many companies will begin retiring in large numbers. Meanwhile, those same companies can’t expect their younger workers—especially talented Millennials—to stick around much longer than 36 months, if that.
Despite this coming double whammy, many companies have yet to reshape their office environments so they can recruit and retain the type of workers who can perform at the level that company executives have come to expect.
The vast majority of workers now in their 20s and 30s plan to job-hop, according to The Future Workplace, an executive development firm based in New York. In the company’s 2012 survey of workers born between 1977 and 1997 (also known as Millennials), 91 percent of 1,139 respondents said they expected to stay in a job for less than three years, which means most of them expect to hold 15 to 20 jobs during their career. Meanwhile, about 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 (retirement age) each day for the next 15 years, the Pew Research Center projects.
There’s been plenty of research and analysis on what Millennials prefer or expect at the workplace and during their career. Yet, employers don’t appear to be catering to those expectations.
For instance, more than two-thirds of workers born between 1980 and 1995 value companies that allow them to occasionally work from home and shift their work hours, according to an April 2013 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of 1,000 Millennials. But only about 25 percent of organizations make an ongoing effort to inform employees about flexible work arrangements, and just 12 percent reward managers who support such arrangements, according to a 2012 study by the New York-based Families and Work Institute, which surveyed more than 1,100 U.S. employers from August 2011 to January 2012.
Plenty of research has documented that Millennials put a high premium on personal development and career opportunities in the workplace, as well as on instant performance feedback. Despite this, 77 percent of HR practitioners conduct performance reviews only yearly, a 2013 SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey of 803 HR practitioners found.
And while the priority that Millennials place on social media is well documented, most organizations still view using this tool in the workplace as a “threat to productivity, intellectual capital, security, privacy, management authority or regulatory compliance.” In fact, 35 percent of company leaders are “fearful” of social media, according to a 2011 survey of more than 250 organizations by Gartner, Inc., a Stamford-Conn.-based technology research and advisory company.
HR managers can address this disconnect between younger workers’ preferences and company attitudes by using ideas such as these:
- Formalize telecommuting policies. Making telecommuting, or remote work, the rule rather than the exception is a powerful way for an organization to demonstrate that it doesn’t buy the notion that flexibility means less productivity or job commitment. Set parameters for the number of days or hours full-time and part-time employees can work remotely—then provide the necessary technology, including laptops, conference lines and remote network access.
- Rework the review process. Along with formal yearly or biannual reviews, require managers to meet monthly with each team member to discuss performance and career development goals, whether or not the employee is physically in the office.
- Commit to ongoing training and career development. It’s important that younger employees see a path for advancement and understand what will be expected of them in higher-level positions. An “exchange” cross-training program lets junior- and mid-level employees spend some time in a different department or shadowing a superior. Managers can also give workers at least one experimental assignment or project each quarter, which can help managers and the HR team identify those with unique or advanced skills.
- Get social. The time that 18- to 24-year-olds spend on e-mail has declined by nearly 50 percent since 2010, according to a 2012 comScore report. HR managers should consider other communication technologies, such as Wiki pages, or swap the company intranet for a social platform that lets employees build and share profile pages to promote their achievements and update project spreadsheets.
Kevin Grossman is director of content development at Peoplefluent, a Waltham, Mass.-based talent-management workplace consultancy. To read the original article on SHRM.org, please click here.