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Thoughts for the C-suite: take this job and shove it – I don’t want to work here anymore!

Published by CME Manitoba on March 15, 2018

By Kevin Lusk, CME Advanced Manufacturing & Senior Executive Leadership Champion

Sitting in that C-suite, you’ve probably figured out by now that it’s tough to find good technical, administrative and marketing talent. And as the Baby Boomers retire, and the Generation X’ers mature, that talent walking in the door will largely be millennials. Are you up for the challenge? Because it will be even more difficult than you think.

Figuring out how to hold onto those millennials once you’ve reeled them is going to be a key challenge for leaders in the coming years. There is a growing body of evidence that millennials are a new breed. And when they do leave an organization, in most cases it’s not them – it’s you.  You, your company culture and values don’t mesh well with their expectations. 

Here are some interesting facts that might impact your thinking – and by extension – that of your HR department or hiring manager.  In recent U.S. studies, more than a third of the workforce is now between the ages of 18 and 34 years old. Remember all the hype about Generation X? Well, millennials have now surpassed them. They represent the largest body of workers in the United States. As for Canada, while there is no recent study that I could find; we can’t be far behind. It's critical then, that companies know how to recruit and retain millennial talent. Believe me, millennials are a different breed. To attract them and keep them it may well come down to changing you, changing the way you look at things and changing your corporate culture. Like it or not, we’re in the middle of a cultural shift that is going to impact your company. 

Here are a few ways Millennials think differently than you probably haven’t thought about:

Jive Communications, a Utah research firm, asked 2,000 millennials about their workplace requirements and why they leave. They found that flexible working hours, the option to work remotely, speedy technology and an open company culture are key to both attracting millennials and actually keeping them. 

What was the # 1 reason millennials leave their jobs? The study found that they didn’t like the atmospheres of their offices. 37 per cent said having a job with flexible hours is essential. A quarter reported they’d left jobs because they couldn’t work flexibly. 63 per cent of those surveyed were not interested in future jobs if working remotely wasn’t an option. 64 per cent of the millennials said they’d leave a job if it were too difficult to take sick or personal days. 70 per cent said they strongly prefer fast in-office technology, and without it, 20 per cent said they would actually quit. The study also found that the average millennial is not necessarily new out of school. In fact, the study revealed that the millennial has probably had three jobs and that the majority start to look for another job before they hit the three-year mark in their current position. 24 per cent were only in a job for six months to a year before they start hunting again while 30 per cent started looking between a year and 18 months.

But let’s get back to you and that #1 reason why millennials leave their jobs.

The No. 1 reason they left was that they simply didn’t like their office atmospheres. John Pope, CEO of Jive Communications concluded, “it’s hard to get work done in a bad or inefficient environment, which is why prioritizing a fun and positive office culture with effective working solutions is a must for companies in retaining and developing millennial staff.” 

Another research firm, The Intelligence Group drew similar conclusions in a 2014 study. According to their study, 72 per cent of millennials wants to be their own boss one day. In a 2015 survey by accounting firm Ernst & Young, millennials are the most likely generation to say they would change jobs or careers, give up promotion opportunities, move their family to another place or take a pay cut in order to have flexibility and better manage work and family life. In terms of values, more than half of millennials say compensation is more important to a job offer than corporate mission. But almost all of them would consider working for less – by as much as 12 per cent – for certain other perks. Millennials are willing to give up a percentage of their salary for long-term job security, a management structure that emphasizes mentorship, a better career trajectory and – you guessed it – flexible office hours. 80 per cent said a company culture with which they can relate is important to them. 

The conclusion is that millennials are looking for companies that emphasize personal growth above all. Forbes writer Rick Gillis recently pointed out that what is different about millennials is the size of their generation.

"The boomers began retiring at about the same time millennials began to enter the workforce, and therein lies the problem: There aren’t enough Gen X’ers around to backfill the rapidly depleting workforce," he explained. "Hence, there's a need to promote millennials beyond entry-level and into mid-management and senior positions that they may or may not be prepared for. The 'job hoppers' are reacting to a very rich and lucrative job market. The offers are coming fast and furiously. You too would take the interview(s) and consider making the move, so if you really want to place the blame somewhere, don't point at young people who are jumping at the opportunity." 

Perhaps C-suite occupant, it's you and the businesses, and not the millennials that need to do some adapting. Probably the reality is that it’s a bit of both. 

CME has expertise when it comes to generational shifts and change in the workplace, or can connect you to others in the field who do. Maybe if you are having trouble keeping that millennial engineer, IT person, sales person, administrator or production supervisor/worker you might think about drawing on CME’s insights and the power of the network.


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