Leading across Generations

Recruiting, retaining and motivating younger people - where did it all go wrong?

Without doubt one of the questions we are most frequently asked is “How can I keep Millennials in my firm?” It’s not just professional service firms either. Every type of business is struggling to hang on to this best educated but extremely mobile generation. And while all generational research suffers from an element of stereotyping and generalisation, the numbers speak for themselves. Turnover of 18% to 30%, escalating salaries as a method of retention and frustration at what leaders may see as a lack of loyalty to the business.

But there is another side to it. This is the first generation that will be financially worse off than their parents, that are largely locked out of home ownership, and see a world damaged by climate change and political disruption. They see working practices which require always on job demands, yet promises of partnership are increasingly distant and vague. That’s why they appear somewhat “contractual” in their dealings with employers. “Tell me what I will earn this year and what new skills I will learn – don’t focus on distant promises.”

But there is a better way - stop recruiting mercenaries!

Having carried out research inside professional service firms we discovered that Millennials actually focused upon three different aspects of their employment. Only one of these was around pay and performance bonuses. They were actually much more interested in what we called “The way that I work” and “How I live my life”. But most firms have stayed focused upon pay – in a sense behaving as if they had recruited a mercenary army and then being surprised when that army left either for more pay or to lead a different lifestyle altogether (and one not available in the existing firm).

However, we are now seeing a split between those firms who understand these three areas of need and those who just rely on pay. So employers face an important choice now. Retaining the best of the Millennial generation will become a competitive edge. A generationally diverse team delivers better results to the clients and is more profitable. So mastering retention is going to make a real different both to your bottom line and to your clients rating of the service they receive. The only question for firms is what tools will bring them the best results?

Ask for details of our Leading across the Generations Research and Workshops