Millennials: Is your employee experience relevant enough?

Millennial workers do not appreciate being "chained to a desk"

There are hordes of clichés around millennial workers, but which attributes should your organisation keep front of mind when hiring and retaining the best talent? Marcus Underhill of Staffcare looks at how employers can ensure their employee experience is relevant to this important generation.

As an HR director today, you have probably had a handful of key employers in your career. Your successors are likely to have between 10 and 20.

We know that their employee loyalty and engagement is different and it’s not because of salary; it’s because of the employee experience.

It’s well documented that today’s generation wants to make a difference, but also wants instant gratification and is less patient. The old ways of working hold no truck with them, the gig economy is here to stay and ‘agility’ is king.

So, how can you ensure that your employee experience chimes with this transient new generation?

They’re not money motivated and individual choice and instant access is of paramount importance. They’re looking for reward and benefits that meet their needs right now, right here – and that doesn’t mean a red-hot workplace pension scheme.

In our recent survey of employee benefits trends, Adam King of the London Business School commented that of the recent Generation Y executive education participants at the school, 90% had little intention of staying with an employer for longer than five years and over a third believed they would not stay more than 24 months.

Keep it relevant

It is clear that what it means to work for different generations will have a profound impact on businesses’ people strategies over the next twenty years.

So how can HR Directors keep their offering relevant and reflect multi-generational needs? Here is a list of key generation Y attributes to enable organisations to check if they are using the right levers in their reward framework and employee value proposition.

Don’t tie people to a chair. No millennial values sitting eight to 10 hours chained to a desk. If you trust them, give them freedom to move around, converse and collaborate. This can include working at home or remote working. Create environments inside the office to enable them to share ideas and information.

It is personal. I don’t expect to have a reward structure and benefits that are the same for everyone. I want to have the ability to invest in my development and choose benefits that are most appropriate for me. I expect materials and communication to be relevant to me and not generic.

It’s about more than pay. Millennials believe in working somewhere for its purpose and so aspects of inclusion, collaboration, international assignments, secondments and shadowing are all attributes of a work environment they will thrive in.

Understand their technology preferences. They use multiple communication devices and expect information when they need it to be available on smart phone and tablet and not just in the office.

Make the best of mentors. Whilst they are ambitious, they can also see the value in having coaching.

Glassdoor. Millennials will read about your business in the review sites, media and social networks. They believe these reviews and they can make or break decisions by talent to join your organisation.

“I have a thirst to learn”. Give younger workers the time and space and they will actively investigate and learn self-sufficiently. Content should reflect the fact that, as they are used to online activity, their attention span may be less than previous generations.

Christmas is once a year. Feedback is every day. Millennials are far more fearless of failure than past generations and thrive to get better and seek and give feedback. Involve them and coach them to get better results.

They will tell you if they like or dislike something. Feedback works both ways, and they will be happy to give instant feedback when asked.

Millennials are socially responsible. Even if their business does not socially contribute to the world they expect it to be socially responsible. And evidence it.

Do things in real time. They can buy products and converse online when outside work in real time, so they don’t understand when internal business processes aren’t as automated as they could be, give them a poor customer experience or by going wrong.

Learning is not just about work. Work is part of everyone’s life balance, but millennials want to experience the world and eventually learn to be good parents, so give them and their families the freedom to make this happen. Paternity and maternity values, flexible working and sabbaticals are all strong signals.

Be succinct. Other generations may chat about their journey to work at the coffee machine, but by that time, millennial employees will have posted a video of the experience. With all this information and noise, they value clear and succinct statements on role, performance and business purpose.

Poor performance is draining. Millennials don’t like it when their business tolerates poor performance in people around and above them. Such people fail every day to live the values that the company says are so important.

To successfully integrate Generation Y and later generations into the workforce, employers need to understand their motivations and balance these against work styles and perspectives already prevalent in the business environment.

The single best way? Ask them. Because these generations love nothing better than playing a part in their own future.


About Marcus Underhill

Marcus Underhill is Director of Engagement and Insights at Staffcare
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