Millennials may seem like a relatively new addition to the workforce to some, but as early as 2015, they made up a full one-third of the American workforce, when they overtook baby boomers to claim the largest share by cohort, according to Pew Research Center. What’s surprising about that figure is the fact that many employers are challenged to fully understand this group. They’re often seen as job-hoppers, disengaged and lacking the work ethic of earlier generations.
The issue: lack of understanding leads to disengagement.
According to some, what millennials really crave are opportunities to thrive in the workplace and better themselves professionally. Ryan Pendell recently wrote an article for Gallup titled, “Why Your Best Millennials Will Leave, and How to Keep Them.” A millennial himself, Pendell argues that a big part of the frustration this cohort feels is due to the fact that they feel they are capable of high-quality work but are often offered or treated like they are in entry-level jobs. “We aren't looking for entry-level work anymore,” he writes, “though we often feel like we are playing catch-up in our career due to a slow start after the Great Recession. Many of us have had one (or even two) major career shifts since college.”
It's a point many companies miss, says, Pendell who cites Gallup research which indicates that millennials value opportunities to learn and grow more than anything else. Yet, many millennials have not had this opportunity.
For employers hoping to attract and keep top millennial talent – and consequently, due to their numbers, top talent in general – professional development should be a big selling point for recruitment and retention efforts. There are many ways to do this: mentorship programs, regular (i.e., not just annual) performance appraisals, career development planning, employee training, etc. While these activities do take time, effort and money, they are worth it when considering the largest cohort in the workplace is looking for exactly that.
What are you doing to fully understand, and consequently engage, your millennial employees?