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Your top employees are top targets. The candidate market is in a unique space: unemployment is low, turnover is at an all-time high, and loyalty isn’t necessarily a priority for all employees – and the finance industry, in particular, is feeling the pressure. As the demand for talent grows and the available candidate pool dwindles, recruiters have their eyes set on your best employees. And often, the temptation to take on a new adventure is too great. While it’s easier to blame turnover on poachers, most employees quit because internal forces push them out, rather than external forces drawing them in. In so many words, it’s not them, it’s you.
Wandering EyesAccording to TINYpulse, only 22% of financial workers are truly happy at work, putting them at a high risk for turnover. But even your most loyal employees are open to new opportunities, and the slightest nudge can tip the scale. Only 15% of employees are truly satisfied in their jobs and aren’t looking for other opportunities (LinkedIn). That means 85% of your employees could be at risk of leaving your organization. Mercer states 34% of employees say they plan to leave their current role in the next 12 months. Gallup states a much higher percentage: 51% of workers are looking to leave their current jobs. LinkedIn research shows that 25% of employees are actively looking for new work, with two-thirds of them currently employed. In fact, 3.22 million Americans (2.2% of the workforce) quit their jobs in January 2017, the highest quit rate since February 2001 (Department of Labor). While statistics on tenure and turnover may vary, one truth remains constant: employees are looking, especially in Finance. In 2015, Compdata reported average turnover at 16.7%, but turnover within the Finance & Banking was reported at 18.6%. Meanwhile, CPA firms can experience an average turnover rate of up to 25% per year (TINYpulse). Currently, 75% of jobseekers are employed but open to new opportunities— these are known as “passive candidates.” Almost 60% of workers look at other jobs at least monthly (Indeed). Platforms like LinkedIn and Glassdoor email new opportunities to passive candidates on a daily or weekly basis. Just because they are open to new opportunities doesn’t mean they don’t like their current jobs: 80% of passive jobseekers are satisfied in their current job (LinkedIn). Among people who “love their jobs,” 50% would be willing to leave for a new opportunity (Adobe) and Glassdoor reports that 84% of candidates would consider leaving their current company if another company with an excellent reputation offered them a job. More than half of U.S. employers (57%) said hiring activity has increased over the past 12 months, while turnover has picked up by 37% in 2016 (Willis Towers Watson). With demand high and available talent low, recruiters are becoming more aggressive. They aren’t shy about going for your top talent, and their tactics are effective. In 2015, 75% of workers with new jobs hadn’t actively applied for the position, they were referred or “poached” (FRBSF Economic Research). The reasons they leave go beyond simple temptation.
It’s not just a Millennial problem. Millennials have developed a reputation as job hoppers. And it’s not an incorrect assessment; 44% of Millennials say, if given the choice, they expect to leave their current employers in the next two years (Deloitte). But it’s not just Millennials: 37% of Gen X and 25% of Boomers are planning to leave their company in the next two years (Lightspeed).
Cost & EffectWhen turnover is high, talent becomes a primary concern. According to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), the top three challenges faced by HR organizations today are turnover, employee engagement, and succession planning. The impact of these challenges all come at a high cost to your budget, to your team, and to your morale. Finding a new employee slows processes, requires recruiting efforts, and impacts culture. The cost of replacing an employee can range from 30%-400% of an employee’s salary (ERE Media). When you lose an employee, their surrounding team feels the impact, too – not just in their productivity, but their team dynamic as well. Friendships can be a powerful tool in engagement and retention. Employees with a best friend at work tend to be more focused, more passionate, more loyal to their organizations, and they change jobs less frequently (SHRM). Employees agree: 46% of professionals worldwide believe that work friends are important to their overall happiness (LinkedIn) and 50% of employees with a best friend at work report a strong connection with the company (Gallup). Friendship does have an effect on tenure: 37% of employees say “working with a great team” is their primary reason for staying (Gusto), while 55% of employees have put off job hunting because they didn’t want to leave their coworkers (ICIMS). A revolving door of teammates does not allow for this kind of synergy. Meanwhile, a solid tenured workforce can: Help guide strategic planning Acquire cross-training Mentor and train others Nurture culture Tenure’s impact on culture will be your biggest asset, and turnover’s impact on culture will be your biggest detriment. Longevity helps solidify and support culture, setting and maintaining the standard. A consistent culture is effective in its practices and expectations.
Why They Go & Why They StayThere is no one factor that influences employee tenure. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics currently defines the average employee tenure at 4.2 years. Typically, the top reasons job seekers will leave for another job are: More compensation (61%) Location (42%) Better work-life balance (40%) Health benefits (36%) Growth opportunities (35%) Company culture (21%) Leadership (15%) (Jobvite) All of these factors address employees’ human needs—the need to grow, the need to be valued, the need to live a full life. Growth and opportunity are a particular driving force. Forty-one percent of employees said they would need to leave their current employer in order to advance their careers (Towers Watson). More than 60% don’t feel their career goals are aligned with the plans their employers have for them (Forbes), and another 47% of Americans would leave for their ideal job even if it meant less pay (Adobe). Interaction between work and life can seriously influence tenure. Bamboo HR reports that 14% will leave if they don’t have a healthy work-life balance, while 46% of HR leaders say employee burnout is responsible for up to half of their annual workforce turnover (Kronos). Sometimes it’s just a matter of timing. Job searching fluctuates in accordance with life events. Around birthdays, job searching increases by 12%, 16% around class reunions, and up to 9% around work anniversaries (HBR). Any life events that inspire reflection can lead your employees to wonder, “What’s next?” There is an eternal human search for “something better.” The good news is, your organization can proactively address every single one of these factors. Rob Beanett, author of Passion Saving: the Path to Plentiful Free-Time and Soul- Satisfying Work defines the Employee Life Cycle, defines the cycle at seven years and SHRM’s 2016 Human Capital Benchmarking Report defines average employee tenure at eight years, but it’s shortening. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics currently defines the average employee tenure at 4.2 years. The cycle includes:
- Overwhelmed Starting a new job or position initially begins as stressful, but the new challenge drives them forward. New hire initiatives are crucial in balancing stress and engagement. (continued…)
- Happily Challenged Within six months, the employee is still being challenged but enjoys the experience.
- Smooth Sailing After another 6-12 months, the employee is confident in his ability to handle the job. They still enjoy the work, but there is not as much of a challenge and they are not learning as much.
- Bored It can take 3-7 years before an employee can feel like they can do their job in their sleep. Now the employee must actively begin looking for a new challenge.
- Indifferent Left unchallenged, the employee becomes unhappy with the company. They won’t care enough about the work to do it well. But if they find a new challenge, the cycle can begin again.
Lead the WayHow you involve your company’s leadership will make all the difference. They will set the tone and build a tenured team. In fact, 51% of employees who don’t feel they have the support of leadership plan to leave their job in the next year, compared to 25% of those who do have leadership support (American Psychological Association). In addition, 14% of HR leaders say lack of executive support is an obstacle to improving retention in 2017 (Kronos). Through dedicated practices and daily efforts, your company’s leadership creates the employee experience—and plays a huge role in engagement. According to employees, the most memorable recognition comes from their manager (28%), a high-level leader or CEO (24%), and their manager’s manager (12%), followed by customers and peers. We know that people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their boss. The main factor in workplace discontent is an employee’s manager—not wages, benefits, or hours (Gallup). Half of U.S. adults have left their job to get away from their manager (Gallup), which is understandable considering the way the manager influences the factors mentioned earlier. Managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores (Gallup). But don’t be so quick to point the finger of blame. Your company’s leaders need great managers, too. Leaders need the same support from the individuals they report to. Just 35% of U.S. managers are engaged, while 51% are not engaged at all (Gallup). Meanwhile, 42% of managers are currently looking for jobs with other organizations (Modern Survey). Managers actively influence nearly every factor of tenure and engagement. They require support, growth, and recognition to fill their own cup first—then they can nurture other employees.
Building Loyalty, Achieving RetentionIf you want to retain your top employees, you must implement a dedicated, proactive strategy.
Prepare EmployeesIf your top employee won the lottery, who would do their job tomorrow? There should be no position on your team or in your organization that only one employee knows how to do. Cross-training employees can not only keep them challenged, it provides opportunities for growth and can come in handy when looking for a replacement.
Pay CompetitivelyFinancial temptation can be your biggest enemy: 35% of employees will start looking for a job if they don’t receive a raise in the next 12 months (Glassdoor). Fix this by offering truly competitive pay. Give raises and adjustments proactively and always connect it with some other form of recognition. Never let a paycheck speak for itself. To ensure your pay is competitive, see our Salary Guide. Don’t forget benefits. Your employees need them. It’s as simple as that.
Value TransparencyFrequent Forbes contributor and seasoned Fortune 500 HR SVP Liz Ryan discusses a unique process at one of her former organizations. As her employees were receiving an avalanche of recruiter calls, turnover was becoming a top concern. Instead of punishing employees, the leadership team created a “poaching form.” The form asked for the name of the recruiter, the hiring company, the name and description of the project or position, salary offered, and other details. Then, the company paid their employees $50 for each completed form. It worked like a charm. They were able to inspire an open dialogue about what employees were looking for and know what their competition was up to. Once recruiters figured out what was going on, the poaching slowed considerably. A program like this can demonstrate trust, give you a chance to address concerns and efficiently enact retention strategies based directly on employee feedback.
Surveillance Surveillance falls under the transparency umbrella. And it can be a tricky game. If you are or want to monitor employee internet or phone use, only use it to help, not punish. For instance, if you notice an employee is spending considerably more time on LinkedIn, use that information to have a discussion about what the organization can do in service to that employee, rather than telling the employee to stop doing that. Do not try to limit their behavior. The harder you press down the lid, the harder it will pop up.
Create Structured Career PathsEveryone needs something to work towards. Work with employees on an individual basis to define a career path within your organization. Frequently check in on this path and adjust according to their needs and goals, ensuring they are challenged appropriately. This is also how you will select your next group of leaders who will affect the tenure and performance of other employees. Promote according to performance and strengths, while rewarding tenure.
RecognitionWhen 82% of employees don’t think they’re recognized for their work as often as they deserve (BambooHR), they will look for it elsewhere. Your top performers give you plenty to recognize. Create a structured program that allows for an abundance of both formal and informal recognition.
FlexibilityTo address issues of location and work-life balance, allow for flexible work options. This is an effective demonstration of trust and appreciation while proactively meeting employee needs. Additionally, workers who were offered telecommuting options were more productive and had lower turnover (HBR). Make sure employees have the appropriate tools and training available to do their work well.
Survey FrequentlySurveying allows you to keep an eye on engagement and give employees a chance to speak candidly. Take results seriously and make adjustments accordingly.
Support LeadershipPromote the right people into management roles, and make sure your leaders have the tools available to keep employees engaged.
CultureWhether you recognize it or not, your organization has a culture. It’s simply the personality of your organization. You do not need ping pong tables to have an effective culture. You simply need to build your organization around your values, and in turn, implement programs that strengthen those values. Keep a pulse on your culture and continuously nurture it. Every program, every technology, every process should somehow revert back to one of the values of the company. Always keep your culture at the forefront of every company communication.
Open DoorsNo matter how great your organization is, some people will quit. It’s just part of life! Master the flow of talent and support your employees in their next step. Write recommendations and use your connections to help them build their careers. Soon, your organization will build a reputation as a launch pad, and you’ll get flooded with talent. Plus, you’d be surprised how many of those former employees will come back as boomerang employees—40% say they’d consider returning to their former company (Workplacetrends). There’s nothing about the tenure crisis that you can’t manage. With dedicated programs, you can build effective longevity and reap all the benefits. The most important factor is to focus on helping your employees build their livelihood. When your employees are your main focus, they will find a career worth staying for within your organization.
Tips from Within Creating Structured Career Paths Jess Bushey serves as Market Vice President for Roth Staffing Companies, parent company of Ledgent. She oversees some of Roth’s most successful and tenured teams. Here’s what she has to say about creating structured career paths: “I find that having a structured career path has empowered our coworkers, benefitting the overall organization. As a new employee is on-boarded, we lay an outline of several career opportunities relative to where they are starting, establishing what each stepping-stone requires. We then check in during quarterly performance reviews, outlining and benchmarking goals and outcomes that are needed to reach those next steps. The key component to this is clear and consistent communication and allowing coworkers to explore different options than they originally thought they might aspire to. Having a clear career path for promotion encourages coworkers to take ownership, keeping them engaged in their current role and within our organization. It has also allowed us to retain our top talent and have stronger succession planning for organic growth. It preserves and enlivens our company culture to have leaders who started in entry-level positions and grew into leadership positions, where they have authentic stories to tell our newest coworkers.”
Welcome to the new frontier.Social media is no longer viewed as a young person’s time-waster; instead, it has transformed into one of the most proliferate forms of communication today. While it’s true that more businesses embrace the use of social media, too many solely focus on speaking to their customers and ignore a vital audience: their current and future employees. How you present yourself as an employer on social media not only affects the perception of your employees and potential candidates, but can impact the relationship you have with customers. In the new age of accountability and transparency, your audience is constantly looking for better ways to make informed decisions. What they find online creates a multidimensional profile of who you are as an organization.
The Current Social Media ClimateSocial media usage is soaring. Currently, 83% of Americans have a social media account (Hootsuite) and social media comprises 30% of all time spent online (Global Wed Index). Due to widespread adoption, a once leisurely novelty now blurs the lines between social, professional, and consumer spaces. Not only do people expect to find their friends online, but they expect to find the businesses they interact with on social media. Amongst Americans, 48% have interacted with companies or institutions on at least one social media network, and 28% would rather engage with a brand/ organization on social media than visit a physical location (Hootsuite). At the bare minimum, an employer should maintain a presence on these channels:
- Display your culture
- Praise employees
- Address complaints and negative feedback
- Celebrate organizational accomplishments and employee achievements
- Announce changes
- Promote your blog or other expertise
Job Ad ≠ PresenceWhen you think of the relationship between employers and social media, most minds immediately jump to LinkedIn and job postings. While LinkedIn is an important and vital tool, your reach should stretch beyond this professional networking site. Strictly from a recruiting perspective, 93% of companies use LinkedIn for recruiting, but only 36% of jobseekers are actually active on LinkedIn (Jobcast). And among people who found their current job through a social network, 78% attributed their job to Facebook, while only 40% cited assistance from LinkedIn (Jobvite). In general, Facebook has a higher engagement rate: 70% of Facebook users engage daily compared to only 13% of LinkedIn users (Pew Research), and 83% of jobseekers are active on Facebook (Jobcast). An in-depth, multi-channel approach creates the presence you need. The time has come to present yourself as a multidimensional entity, beyond your product or service. The inner workings of your organization are not only intriguing, but they speak to your competence and trustworthiness.
Leading with TransparencyYelp has demanded a new level of accountability and transparency from businesses. Glassdoor has done the same with internal organizational policies and conduct. While this can feel detrimental to business, this actually strengthens it. Privacy is no longer a virtue, it is a caution sign to customers. In this new era of vulnerability, a lack of online presence suggests you have something to hide. Your clients and customers want candid information on your services and your internal operations—even the nonfavorable reviews. (Too perfect of a reputation can imply bribery or tampering.) Referrals are consistently the best way to gain new business. Let the internet be your referral service. Perfect your service and address issues or complaints brought up online. This will give your clients and potential candidates a taste of the service they can expect.
For Your Employees...Your social media movement should begin with your employees. They will be your first followers/friends, give your first shares and likes, and leave your best comments. Your employees will be your strongest testament for your employer brand and their presence will have the greatest influence on your potential candidates and client base. According to Forbes, when employers encourage their employees to be active on social platforms, those employees are more likely to help increase sales. However, nearly 3 in 4 employees say their employer does not (or does not know how to) promote their employment brand on social media (Glassdoor). Meanwhile, 69% of jobseekers are more likely to apply for a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand (e.g., responds to reviews, updates their profile, shares updates on the culture and work environment, etc.). How you engage your employees and how they engage with you will contribute to and strengthen your employer brand and overall reputation on social media. Glassdoor recommends utilizing social media as a tool for employee engagement through:
- Collaboration and visibility
- Employee feedback
- Motivational work environment
Culture Check, Purpose ReignsAcross your social media channels, culture and purpose should be your building blocks and your guidelines. All of your communication should express both. Begin by defining your culture and your purpose. Culture is the personality of your organization based on a shared set of values and beliefs, while purpose is why your organization exists at all, distinguishing your business in a sea of corporate-ness. All of your communication should align with these two narratives. If your culture is not brag-worthy yet, build and nurture it. If you share anything that is untrue or uncharacteristic, you risk backlash from your employees.
Psych BreakWhen employees share information about their employer on social media, it influences a concept known as BIRGing – or Basking In the Reflected Glory. People like to associate themselves with successful entities. It’s one of the reasons we wear hats with our favorite sports teams or shirts with our favorite bands. Employees reflect in the glory of their organization’s triumph and are eager to advertise shared success. Social media also influences the brain’s reward system, inducing feelgood chemicals with every “like.” When value is defined by both sides – employer and friends – it boosts the ego and creates feelings of pride. Your employees will be eager to share and maintain their participation, but only if your organization defines social media activity as important first.
For Your Jobseekers...What your employees say about your organization will have an effect on job candidates. Remember, this is a candidate’s market. Jobseekers have more options than you do. How your organization is perceived has more impact than what your recruiters boast. Even if you don’t maintain a strong presence, jobseekers are still looking to your social media platforms for information. In the US alone, 14.4 million have used social media to search for a job, while 48% used social media to find their current job (Jobvite). When jobseekers are on the prowl, 76% want details on what makes a company an attractive place to work, 59% use social media to research the company culture of organizations they are interested in (Jobvite), and 54% read company reviews from employees (Glassdoor). The information that they find – more so than what you present on company-sponsored pages – can be extraordinarily beneficial or drastically detrimental. Glassdoor reports 84% of candidates would consider leaving their current company if another company with an excellent reputation offered them a job, while 70% would not take a job with a company that had a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed (Corporate Responsibility Magazine). Social media can even increase the number of high quality candidates you attract. Of companies that have implemented social recruiting, 42% say that their candidate quality has improved and 20% say it takes less time to hire (Jobvite). When they get a clear and candid picture of your workplace, candidates almost screen themselves. However, nearly two in three say their current employer does not (or does not know how to) use social media to promote job openings (Glassdoor).
For Your Customers...A third of Millennials say social media is one of their preferred channels for communicating with businesses, while 84% of CEOs and VPs say they use social media to help make purchasing decisions (B2C). How you treat your employees, and how you communicate that, matters to your customers. As potential customers Google your organization, they will come across employee feedback – both positive and negative. Mistreatment of employees can be the ultimate PR blow, while support for employees can be the ultimate boost. When your employees are unsatisfied and unengaged, they won’t deliver the best service to your customers. Companies that excel in customer experience have 1.5 times as many engaged employees (Temkin Group). Your customers want to hear what your employees have to say. Customers are also more likely to trust in-house technical experts than CEOs, reinforcing the overall credibility of a company’s strategy (Edelman). When they share your organization’s content or praise the organization, your customers trust them. Your employer brand complements your consumer brand, and how you advertise it on social media shapes both.
8 Socially Conscious StepsYour social media strategy should be deliberate, not an afterthought.
1. Build a strategyEighty-four percent of companies believe a clearly defined strategy is key to achieving employer branding objectives (Employer Brand International Global Research Study). Before you post anything, define your culture, your purpose, your employer brand, how you can best express it, and who is going to oversee the process.
2. Prepare your website to greet themAll of your social media will lead back to your website, so make sure your site is consistent with your social media channels in regard to branding, message, and content.
3. Involve leadershipYour senior leaders should be your most prominent social media advocates. If you want your employees to be involved, your leaders will set the tone. They should actively post and share content – both business and culture-based.
4. Provide guidelines for employeesMany of your employees may not even know where to begin when supporting their organization online: 14% have posted something about their employer on social media that they wish they hadn’t (Weber Shandwick/KRC Research). While you cannot force your employees to praise your organization, or keep them from speaking their minds, you can provide general guidelines about what can be helpful to share regarding the organization and what information should not be shared. On more professional platforms like LinkedIn, create stricter guidelines and boilerplates to maintain a consistent message. For example, no one in your organization should create their own job titles such as labeling themselves as a “guru” or “ninja” if, in fact, that is not their professional job title. Be sure to also create post templates to easily share things like job postings or events.
5. Share your expertiseThe world wants to know what you know. Don’t just share your business expertise – share your expertise on corporate culture. Sharing tips will not make you weaker, but will position you as an industry leader and your employees as experts.
6. Incentivize employee social media involvementThere is a 50% increase in employees recommending company’s products or services when their employer encourages social sharing (Weber Shandwick, Employees Rising, 2014). Reward social media activity and recognize your social media super stars.
7. Designated personnelHaving too many cooks in the kitchen can muddle your message. Have designated team members focus on responding to both customer and jobseeker inquiries, complaints, and praise in a timely fashion.
8. Expand your presence to multiple channelsUtilizing more casual tools like Facebook and Instagram can have a more widespread influence. All 100 of the top global brands maintain at least one company YouTube channel, and more than half (27 of 50) of CEOs in top global companies have appeared in a company video (B2C). While it seems most logical to predominantly maintain a presence on LinkedIn, a multichannel approach is important. Although we just emphasized a multichannel approach, your LinkedIn should still be strong. Valerie Killeen is the Social Media Manager for Roth Staffing Companies. She manages more than 100+ social media pages and educates the entire organization on best practices. Check out her tips on getting the most out of LinkedIn as an employer:
Link In with LinkedIn Company PagesClaim and develop your (free) LinkedIn company page. Company pages are an excellent platform to share news, press releases, key hires and special events. Additionally, it allows your employees to formally connect their profile to your company, and further your employer branding efforts by sharing updates exponentially, with their respective networks. Use Social Media to celebrate your employer brand and what makes your company unique. Do you wear Hawaiian shirts on Fridays? Do you decorate desks for Birthdays? Do you have an Ugly Sweater Party for the Holidays? If so, take a fun team photo and share it on your Company’s social platforms. People love looking at photos of other people, so don’t be afraid to post away! In the simplest sense, let the company be its authentic “self.” Your social media presence does not have to be packaged and commercialized, it just has to be real. As an organization, you might already be extraordinary – and social media can help make sure the world knows it.
Part pariah, part godsend, Millennials occupy a unique space in the social and working world. Raised on a diet of technology and participation trophies, Millennials are challenging the corporate world to find ways to balance their unique skills and quirks, and engage them. In reality, however, Millennials are nothing new, and what engages them may surprise you.
The Millennial RevolutionMillennials, also known as Generation Y, are defined as being born between 1980 and 2000, but perhaps you know them more for their stereotypes: narcissists, the selfie generation, social media addicts, overly sensitive. Supposedly, they’re unorthodox, they want special treatment, and they have no work ethic. But they’re here—and their numbers in the workplace are growing. Millennials are currently the largest generation, and by 2030 they’ll make up 75% of the workforce (Bureau of Labor Statistics). They are flooding into the workplace in record numbers, and their less-than-desirable characteristics and general approach to life are puzzling their Gen X and boomer counterparts. While Millennial stereotypes make for tantalizing click-bait, they’re far too generalizing and not new. You’ve lived all of this before.
The 25-Year-Olds of Today, Yesterday, and TomorrowMillennials were raised under unique circumstances, but they aren’t that different from their predecessors. Typically, the human brain does not reach full maturity until a person reaches their mid-20s. During this time, the prefrontal cortex, the area associated with higher critical thinking, reaches maturity. The MIT Young Adult Development Project cites the Car Rental Rule: “The brain isn’t fully mature at 16, when we are allowed to drive, or at 18, when we are allowed to vote, or at 21, when we are allowed to drink, but closer to 25, when we are allowed to rent a car.” It’s not until the brain reaches 25 that it reaches its full calibration of risk and reward, problem-solving, prioritizing, thinking ahead, self-evaluation, long-term planning, and regulation of emotion. This has remained an objective truth for 25-year-olds throughout history. The Yuppies, the DINKs, the Dot Com Entrepreneurs, and Millennials are all the same person existing at a different point in time. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) quoted Elspeth Reeve, “It’s not that people born after 1980 are narcissists, it’s that young people are narcissists, and they get over themselves as they get older.” This does not make 20-somethings unemployable, it is simply a matter of understanding the growth process that everyone must go through. This is a good thing. It means that the needs of each generation match, and you can meet the needs of today’s, yesterday’s and tomorrow’s Millennials with relative ease. The needs of young people have not necessarily changed, but instead we have learned more about employees in general, their engagement, and the programs that best suit them at any age.
Generation Re-evaluationJust listen to The Who’s “My Generation” or The Beastie Boys’ “Fight for your Right (to Party)”—the tune of the young, confident hopefuls feeling misunderstood by their jaded elders is a consistent theme throughout time. The laziness, the need for participation trophies, and the requirement of special treatment are all less prominent than you think. At this point, the term “Millennial” is used more as an insult than generational descriptor, and relying too heavily on these stereotypes can be harmful to your employees, candidates, and business.
Greater PurposeA shared purpose is defined as “the why”: why an organization exists at all and what distinguishes it in a sea of corporate-ness. The purpose drives all organizational activities, serving as a compass. There is an overwhelming sense that only Millennials need a defined greater purpose in their work, but it’s not just a “Millennial thing.” Six in ten Millennials cite a “sense of purpose” as part of the reason they chose to work for their current employers, and 40% of Millennials who plan to remain in their jobs beyond 2020 say their employers have a strong sense of purpose beyond financial success (Deloitte). While shared purpose does bring out the best in Millennials, it also brings out the best in all employees. A shared purpose gives value to every member of an organization, defining why they come to work every day. In organizations with a strong sense of purpose, 73% of employees were engaged, compared to only 24% of employees in organizations without it (Deloitte). And 89% of executives stated that a strong sense of collective purpose drives employee satisfaction for everyone (HBR).
EntitlementNearly two-thirds, (65%) of people surveyed, say the term “entitled” describes Millennials very or somewhat well, and 58% of Millennials agree (Reason- Rupe). POPSUGAR, a Millennial publication, offers unique insight on the matter. They believe that Millennials and their elders view entitlement differently. Instead of viewing entitlement as a sense that the universe owes them something they haven’t earned, many Millennials view entitlement as the right to go after big goals without asking for permission from gatekeepers and authority figures. Additionally, Millennials were raised under different technological circumstances, receiving results almost instantly for most of their lives. Their expectation for fast results and rewards might explain why they are labeled as “entitled,” especially if their expectations don’t match the reality of the situation—something they may not have learned yet. These factors, combined with a newly 25-year-old brain, can create a perfect storm of narcissism. However, Millennials may be humbler than expected. Sixty-four percent of Millennials consider themselves lucky to even have a job (CBRE). Additionally, in the workplace, Millennials feel more accountable than they do influential, indicating that they do feel a sense of responsibility over simply expecting change (Deloitte). They feel the most accountable and influential in regards to client/customer satisfaction and work culture/atmosphere. These findings suggest they believe their efforts and actions have a direct effect and will benefit their greater organization or workplace.
Job-HoppingCareer tenure is decreasing for all age brackets. The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently defines the average employee tenure at 4.2 years, and most are not shy about pointing the finger at Millennials for the decreasing number. Currently, 43% of Millennials are open to new job offers, while 38% are actively looking for a new role (PwC). But don’t let those numbers scare you: 71% of all workers admit to active job searching or at least being open to a new opportunity (Indeed). More than 60% of Millennials said that they plan to stay in their jobs for “some time.” Yet, over 25% admitted that they often thought about quitting their jobs (Boston College). However, Millennial loyalty is growing. According to Deloitte’s 2017 Millennial Survey, in 2016, 44% of Millennials planned to leave their organization within the next two years. In 2017, that number dropped to 38%. Similarly, those who planned to stay beyond five years increased from 27% to 31%. You can increase Millennial tenure with internal programs. Growth opportunities seem to further increase loyalty: 44% of Millennial leaders say they intend to stay at their same company for more than 15 years; while 29% of non-Millennial leaders said the same thing (The Conference Board). Millennials who feel they’re at a great workplace are 25 times more likely to plan a long-term future at that workplace (Great Place to Work). When Millennials receive 12.5% more job offers than older candidates (CEB Advisory Firm), a career change can be tantalizing. Make sure it’s hard for them to leave.
RecognitionThe participation trophy has become a powerful symbol in the argument against Millennials, exemplifying their complacency and demand for attention for every small accomplishment. In reality, they don’t really need more recognition than their older counterparts. According to IBM’s Millennial Myths study, Millennials want a manager who’s ethical and fair and also values transparency and dependability, over a boss who recognizes their accomplishments and asks for their input. According to the study, it’s largely Gen X employees, not Millennials, who think everyone on a successful team should be rewarded. Our own internal research reveals a constant truth: recognition has a direct correlation with engagement. All employees hunger for recognition: 40% of employed Americans say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often, while 50% of employees who don’t feel valued plan to look for another job within the next year. More than 50% of HR Managers say showing appreciation cuts turnover, and 49% believe it increases profit. Dedicated recognition can benefit all employees.
LazyLaziness is hard to quantify. While it’s one of Millennials’ biggest negative descriptors, there isn’t much research on it. However, we do know that one quarter of young Millennials between the ages of 18 and 25 say they’re not using any of their vacation time this year, versus fewer than 1 in 10 Americans overall (Project: Time Off). Are they refraining from taking time off for fear of being seen as lazy? We also know that Millennials grew up amidst massive technological innovation including the internet and the smart phone, and they’re used to finding what they perceive as the fastest route or best shortcut. They are multitaskers and great at finding diverse ways of approaching a subject, and often those ways can conflict with what their coworkers believe is the “right way.” All of these stereotypes (needing a greater purpose, entitlement, job-hopping, recognition, laziness) are not nearly as prevalent as blog posts would lead you to believe. However, engagement–for anyone—is not a passive experience. As an organization, your leadership must initiate active efforts and dedicated programs that will give employees the opportunity to engage themselves in their work and workplace. Earnestly facilitating employee engagement programs will produce results.
The Same and Different, All At OnceWhile Millennials’ needs may not be too different from their predecessors, your organization still may not be prepared for engagement. Amongst Millennials, these factors most influenced their decision to accept their current job: The opportunity for personal development (65%) The reputation of the organization (36%) The role itself (24%) The starting salary/rate of pay (21%) The working location(s) (20%) (PwC) Meanwhile, the top reasons Millennials considered leaving their jobs were to: Make more money Move forward in their careers Pursue work that is more aligned with their passions Have more flexibility/better work-life balance Be in a more desirable location (Boston College) Once again, these are not radically different from what older employees want, but addressing these issues can increase engagement for all of your employees, Millennials included. Implementing programs like the ones below can increase engagement and lower the turnover that Millennials are so famous for.
Fair PayAlways begin with fair pay and benefits. Further engagement simply isn’t possible without it. Remember that Millennials have more student debt than their predecessors. In fact, the class of 2015 averaged about $35,000 of debt (Wall Street Journal). Additionally, many of them spent time working for free—in 2012, 1.5 million internships were filled in the United States, and it’s estimated that roughly half of those were unpaid (Forbes). These factors make fair pay imperative. Staples reports that 29% of Millennials state that higher salary is the biggest contributor to their loyalty, compared to 20% of the broader workforce, while Gallup reports that 50% of Millennials say they would consider taking a job with a different company for a raise of 20% or less. See our Salary Guide to ensure that your pay is not only fair but competitive.
Shared PurposeA shared purpose is arguably the most important tool for the entirety of your organization. Harvard Business Review reports that only 46% workers say that their organization has a strong shared sense of purpose, while only 38% report that their staff has a clear understanding of organizational purpose and commitment to core values and beliefs. Work together with your leadership to define and implement your company’s shared purpose. Read our White Paper for more information on how to do this effectively.
Flexible Work OptionsFlexible work is all the rage—and for good reason. Workers who were offered telecommuting options were more productive and had lower turnover (Harvard Business Review), and 64% of Millennials want to occasionally work from home. While this can increase engagement, make sure that your Millennials (and all other employees) receive the right tools and preparation to work efficiently.
Recognition ProgramsAs we mentioned before, recognition is both powerful and underutilized: 75% of employees receiving at least monthly recognition (even if informal) are satisfied with their job, but 82% of employees don’t think they’re recognized for their work as often as they deserve (BambooHR). Meanwhile, 38% of Millennials would like to see the recognition program at their current employer improved (Aon Hewitt). Create a structured program that allows for both formal and informal recognition. Nearly one-third of employees would rather be recognized in a company-wide email from an executive than receive a bonus of $500 (BambooHR). Read our White Paper for more advice on creating an effective program.
Transparent LeadershipMany believe Millennials feel too entitled to information across an organization. In reality, 54% of Millennials don’t fully understand their organization’s business strategy (IBM). Leading with transparency can not only keep them informed but make the whole work process easier for everyone involved. When describing their perfect boss, all three generations agreed that “transparent and readily shares information” is one of the top three most important traits (IBM). Open communication regarding organizational workings can keep employees informed and empowered.
Mentor ProgramsMentor programs can help decrease misunderstandings across generations, and can even squash some of those undesirable Millennial habits. Create mentor and reverse mentor programs to increase exposure and teamwork. Not only do 71% of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring to their employees (Cronus Corporation), but retention is 25% higher for employees who have engaged in companysponsored mentoring (Deloitte). The best way to decrease stigma is to increase exposure.
Structured Career PathsStructured career paths increase transparency and fairness. When your employees know what it takes to succeed, they feel empowered and valued, and therefore stay longer. Amongst Millennials, 45% would quit a job if they didn’t see a career path they wanted at the company (Ultimate Software), and 78% of employees said they would remain longer with their employer if they saw a career path with the current organization (Mercer). However, while 60% of HR leaders believe that their companies provide employees with a clear career path, just 36% of employees agree (Saba Software). Make sure career paths are precise and made available for all employees.
Invest in Your ReputationHumans of all ages have the tendency to associate themselves with successful entities, a phenomenon known as Basking in the Reflected Glory or “BIRGing.” That’s why we wear hats with our favorite sports teams, wear t-shirts with our favorite bands, etc. Your business is not excluded from this concept. Your reputation will affect who you attract and the pride they feel will affect how long they stay. Glassdoor reports 84% of candidates would consider leaving their current company if another company with an excellent reputation offered them a job, while 70% would not take a job with a company that had a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed (Corporate Responsibility Magazine). Millennials are the social media generation, so give them something to brag about. Build your online presence and proudly share your accomplishments. A robust reputation can create an influential cycle. Your employees have a direct impact on the organization’s success and they will be eager to maintain that reputation. As your reputation grows, you will attract more spectacular talent from across all generations. As you prepare your workplace for the Millennial revolution, don’t just focus on current Millennial needs. Emphasize growing them into your organization’s next leaders. When the boomers are gone and the Xers retire, Millennials will be left in charge. Your organization falling apart will not be a testament to how great Gen X and boomers were, it will be evidence that they failed to create sustainable success. Millennials are here, and they are both familiar and foreign all at once. Open communication and collaboration will be your greatest asset. Companies have welcomed new generations before, and they will do it again. Remember, Gen Z is already on Millennials’ heels.
How to let recruiters know you are available on LinkedIn – without your boss knowing. LinkedIn can be a powerful tool in your job search. But what happens when you like your job and your open to new opportunities? Watch our video to learn how to privately signal to recruiters on LinkedIn that you are looking for a new job – without anyone at your organization knowing.