How to be cautiously optimistic at work post-COVID-19.
Fickle mindedness is one negative characteristic often attributed to millennial and Gen Z (a.k.a. Centennial) employees. They are often labeled as job-hoppers who jump ship at the first sign of difficulty or as soon as greener pastures are found.
This may have been true a few years ago, but a 2020 Zapier-commissioned survey revealed that times are changing.
It turns out Millennials and Gen Z employees now have some staying power.
According to the survey, Millennials plan to stay with their current organization for at least 10 years, while their younger Gen Z counterparts see themselves staying put in their current company for just 6 years.
This finding is positive news for companies since their current and future successes of their respective organizations depends on their ability to retain top millennial and Gen Z talent.
However, this turnaround should not trigger complacency, especially because not too long ago, the numbers were saying the exact opposite. For instance, a 2018 Robert Half survey revealed that 75% of workers ages 18 to 34 view job-hopping as beneficial to their careers.
The possibility of job-hopping among Millennials and Gen Z is always going to be present and it’s up to you to prevent it. This requires a well-planned retention strategy specifically targeting your younger employees.
In other words, you have to make them stick around. Speaking of S.T.I.C.K., this is exactly the framework we’ll be exploring here. The S.T.I.C.K. Strategy to improve loyalty and retention among Millennials and Gen Z is an approach using 5 tactics that appeal specifically to these generations.
Career advancement is a top priority among Millennials and Gen Z. Going back to the Robert Half survey, career development is their primary reason for job-hopping.
Compared to their Boomer counterparts, Millennials and Gen Z workers value career development (“opportunity to learn and grow”) and upward mobility (“opportunity for advancement”) more.
Additionally, 62% of Gen Z employees believe that technical hard skills are evolving faster than ever before and 59% believe their jobs won’t exist in the same form 20 years from now. This is why developing new skills is important to them.
To increase retention, companies need to demonstrate that they are invested in their employees’ skills advancements, career growth, and personal development.
Depending on your budget, capabilities, and culture, this involves a variety of initiatives:
Investing in your employees’ career development and advancement will give your organization significant long-term returns.
Millennials and Gen Z are digital natives, especially the latter, who were born in the age of the Internet. They are tech-savvy and use devices and apps to make their daily lives easier and more efficient.
50% of Millennials say they might quit their jobs if a company’s workplace technology doesn’t meet their expectations.
They expect nothing less in their workplaces. Among Millennials, close to 50% said they would consider quitting their jobs if a company’s workplace technology doesn’t meet their expectations. 80% also said that technology is a deciding factor when weighing job offers. The same holds true for Gen Z employees:
Technology can make or break your retention strategy and it should permeate all aspects of your day-to-day workplace operations such as:
A tool like Hi5 can help you digitise some HR functions such as ongoing recognition, rewards & feedback, whereas Slack or Microsoft Teams can help with internal communications & project collaboration.
While millennial and Gen Z employees have shown they can stay put, they don’t want to be confined within the four walls of your office. There are days that they would want to work from home so they can spend more time with their family. There are times when a coffee shop or a coworking space is more conducive to stimulate their creativity and to break the day-to-day monotony.
For Millennials and Gen Z, work is a thing you do, not a place you go to.
In an interview with the New York Times, millennial project manager Ariel Coleman provides a great example of what this means: “A client calls me at 8 o’clock at night and I’m happy to talk to them because that means the next day at 10 a.m., I can take my dog to the vet. It enables me to make my career more seamless with my life. It makes it feel more like people are human.”
“It makes it feel more like people are human.”
A flexible work arrangement is no longer a perk. It’s an expectation and an important retention tactic to win the loyalty of millennial and Gen Z workers.
Having a flexible work arrangement and staying on top of technology go hand-in-hand. Having portable devices and cloud-based tech solutions employees can use anywhere is the key to a work-from-anywhere setup. For instance, time clock software that tracks attendance and time spent on specific projects and tasks is a great way to make flexible work arrangements possible.
In the past, discussing mental health at work was taboo. Employees were expected to keep to themselves and suffer in silence.
Not so with Millennials and Gen Z.
85% of Millennials and 91% of Gen Z believe that “employers should have a mental health work policy in place.”
For 78% of millennial employees and 77% of Gen Z employees, it’s important to be able to discuss mental health openly in the workplace. At the same time, 85% of Millennials and 91% of Gen Z believe that “employers should have a mental health work policy in place.”
Mental health is a serious issue and thanks to Millennials and Gen Z, the need for employers to show concern for the mental wellness of their employees is starting to become mainstream. Depending on your resources, you can consult with mental health experts and design programs for your employees such as in-office yoga classes, bring your dog to work days, and regular nature walks. You can also partner with mental health clinics to give you a corporate package so your employees can seek psychological or psychiatric help if needed.
Gone are the days when employee surveys can only happen twice per year. Millennial and Gen Z employees want to know how they are performing at work. If they are performing poorly, they want coaching, mentoring, and constant education. If they are performing well, they want timely reward and recognition.
An organization that keeps the feedback loop open for their employees beyond the old-school twice a year company survey are more likely to retain their employees, regardless of which generation they belong to.
Millennials and Gen Z employees are the future of the workforce. Organizations that can keep the best talent from these generations will gain a competitive advantage — and following the S.T.I.C.K. Framework discussed above will give you a strong jump-off point to do so.
Dean Mathews is the founder and CEO of OnTheClock, an employee time tracking app that helps over 9,000 companies all around the world track time.
Dean has over 20 years of experience designing and developing business apps. He views software development as a form of art. If the artist creates a masterpiece, many people’s lives are touched and changed for the better.
When he is not perfecting time tracking, Dean enjoys expanding his faith, spending time with family, friends and finding ways to make the world just a little better. You can find Dean on LinkedIn.