New Year, New Rules – 3 ways to keep your millennials in 2017

 

The treadmills are full, the produce aisle is barren, and you swear this year will be the year the pounds finally stay off. It must be January! As Americans make (and break) New Years Resolutions this month, among the health pledges and half marathon fees and juice cleanses are a few folks upgrading to LinkedIn Premium and polishing their resumes, looking to make changes to their work life in 2017.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, “more than one in five workers (22 percent) are planning to change jobs in 2017. Among younger workers, the numbers are even higher. More than a third of workers ages 18 to 34 (35 percent) expect to change jobs in 2017 — this compares to 15 percent of workers ages 35 and older.”

Now, all 35 percent of your younger job-seeking employees may not be looking externally, and not all of them will find greener grass at one of your competitors, but that high number should concern you. About half of your staff is a millennial – if one in three has a wandering eye, your 2017 Job Resolution should be helping them find a reason to stay.

Below you’ll find 3 pieces of your company culture you can resolve to assess in 2017 to turn that statistic around.

1 – Evaluate how you motivate and create connections in your workforce

Recently, a viral video by Simon Sinek discussing millennials in the workplace called on companies to facilitate communication and relationships in the work environment. Sinek believes an entire generation’s ability to form deep and lasting relationships is damaged by the constant tether to social media and texting. He notes companies often have a disconnected workforce as a result, but that they also have the resources to fix that isolation. He discusses a no-phone zone both before, during, and after meetings, that results in actual discussions about work and life and can improve to employees’ feelings of self-worth in the office. This, in turn, creates employees who are less likely to search for validation in a job hunt.

You can plaster your office with all the motivational posters in the world, but self-confidence and the ability to build it is something a lot of your employees lack. Think about your newest hires. Do they have a friend in the office? What about a mentor? Do they have a plan to develop the skills you’d like to see in two years? What types of steps can you take to help them grow at your company, not at another job?

A few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Implement a retreat at the end of employees’ first year to discuss where they’d like to see themselves grow at the company.
  • Ask them what they’d like to learn, and provide the resources to do so (some can be free – like Khan Academy!).
  • Create task force groups and ask managers-in-waiting to lead them. These can be anything from teams that plan lunch and learns to diversity and inclusion teams, to groups to foster women in leadership.
  • Create a training program and rotate your new hires through different pieces of your business to help them learn the ropes.
  • Have younger team members create a blog about your company’s area of expertise, or up your social media marketing game. Leverage the skills you know they have, while allowing them ownership over a project. Give them different teams, too, and they’ll be more motivated and connected.

No matter how you do it, take a look at how your employees relate to one another, and see if you can make improvements for 2017.

2 – Take a look at your diversity and inclusion policies

It’s not all beanbag chairs and snacks for the millennials in your office. According to a new study by Weber Shandwick, “this younger generation is also significantly more likely than Gen Xers and Boomers to consider diversity and inclusion an important factor in considering a new job (47% vs. 33% and 37%, respectively).” 1 That means looking at everything from pay equity to board seat equity to ensure you’re hearing diverse voices at all levels.

You may have a D&I policy at your lower hiring levels, but does it extend upwards, into management and executive levels? Are you losing working parents to the stress of balancing work and family? If you’re looking for inspiration, Patagonia is a golden standard to strive for, and this article describes the wave of tech companies stampeding to have more women included in their board seats.

As Dean Carter, the Head of Human Resources at Patagonia, so eloquently says, “If this group were so insistent about bringing their pets to work, you don’t think they will be as insistent about bringing their kids to work?”

Watch workplaces who are ahead of the trends to get inspiration about altering your policies to please millennials. Along the way, you’ll bring more voices into the fold, which will improve your retention numbers over time.

3 – Look at how you’re getting and implementing feedback

Are you still doing annual surveys? When’s the last time something you loved only asked you for feedback once a year? Between Uber, on-demand food delivery, and Tinder, we’re used to 5-star ratings, immediate feedback, and rapid iteration. You don’t have to bombard people with questions, but you also shouldn’t be waiting to hear from them once a year. Lots of your new hires will only last 8 months, and you’ll never know what could have kept them.

We’ve seen a few companies implement the 21st-century version of a suggestion box – an email address people can anonymously forward ideas to. Pay attention to trends – are people hating the “required” happy hours, but enjoying learning new topics during lunch? Are they begging for time with executives, or to have a greater connection to corporate goals? Maybe they’re looking for a new course or a way to leave their stress behind after the day is done.

If you make changes when you see trends, you’ll see millennials light up. As a group, they strive to have impact on the things they care about. Make your company one of those things, and you’ll see the loyalty of this generation.

Make 2017 the year you make New Years Resolutions at work and create a company that listens to its people. Help your employees create lasting and meaningful connections to a diverse group of people on the inside. Take a hard look at some of your simpler policies, and make 2017 a year of growth in your company culture!

P.S. Are you one of those people who might be dissatisfied with your job right now? We loved this article by an old friend of Aspire, Arthur Woods, about mental exercise of quitting our jobs and deciding whether or not to rehire ourselves. Check it out!