Magazine article Talent Development

Stop the Gen Y Revolving Door

Magazine article Talent Development

Stop the Gen Y Revolving Door

Article excerpt

Your company might know how to attract Millennials, but the challenge now is to retain them. Career development is the answer.

Do your Millennial employees remind you of rolling stones that gather no moss? It's true that younger workers are increasingly mobile, with a median turnover of only 1.8 years according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Millennial or Gen Y workers are defined as those ages 18-35. By 2020, this generation will make up 50 percent of the workforce.

You can blame the parents for indulging Millennials, but according to Brittany Palubiski, manager of early career development at General Motors, "Companies will have no choice but to consider this generation the new talent pool and to figure out how to retain and develop them. We've just kicked off a program called Workforce 2020, a movement to help GM understand how to truly be an employer of choice for Millennials."

The self-esteem of Millennials has been fueled by doting parents who gave them the confidence and the messaging to be anything they wanted to be. Is it no wonder, then, that they are pushing employers for quick advancement and now care more about "What's in it for me?" than they do about authority, loyalty, or manager relationships?

What works

Integral Talent Systems, a technology-enabled global talent management firm based in Silicon Valley, recently completed a 14-month study that examined what really motivates Millennials to change employers. Full-time employees across multiple industries in the United States were interviewed and surveyed. The results indicate that 60 percent of the Millennial workers are currently looking for a new job or career while still employed.

In addition, out of 15 job factors present in the work environment, an organization that appeals to Millennials' career and lifestyle aspirations will be the most preferred employer. These job factors are even more important to them than pay or their relationship with their managers. In addition, Millennials do not need to be highly dissatisfied with their current job to make a change. If something more attractive comes across their radar screen, in the way of career advancement or lifestyle aspirations, they will leap, regardless of how long they have been with their current employer.

Although the results of this study may sound controversial--after all, the adage "Employees leave managers, not companies" has been a frequent cliche during the past 20 years--it is possible that we are at a tipping point with early-career workers who have different job preferences.

Many companies are mystified about how to successfully attract, engage, and retain Gen Y employees. Consulting firms that support large organizations with succession planning have reported that their clients are struggling to keep Gen Y workers long enough to complete their high-potential job rotation programs, much less be available to take over the jobs of retiring Baby Boomers. However, some "early adopter" companies seem to be getting it right by creating a work environment that promotes flexible work-life arrangements and offers career support to address just these issues.

Feed high potentials' appetites

As a retailer, Banana Republic, a division of Gap, employs a high percentage of young workers. It has sought to address the attraction and retention challenges in a variety of ways that have been successful. For example, to meet work-life balance preferences, the company has implemented a results-oriented work environment (ROWE) at its San Francisco and New York headquarters offices. ROWE allows employees to make choices about how and where they work according to what results and deliverables they are accountable for achieving.

In addition, high-potential employees at Banana Republic can participate in the ASCEND program, which offers leadership development, career planning, mentoring, and action learning projects, such as initiatives to improve local employee engagement and business results. …

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