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StrategyDec 13, 2018

Employee Engagement Part 1: Introduction and Trends

Kevin Erickson, Grace Lee, Cameron Weinert, and Ben Grotta

This article is the first of a six-part series on employee engagement and retention, which we refer to as “stickiness.” Younger generations make up an increasingly large share of the modern workforce, and companies must respond in order to acquire and retain top talent. This article will introduce the trends behind this changing workforce.

They are addicted to their phones, they love avocado, they require validation, and perhaps most of all, we are tired of talking about them. I’m referring to millennials, of course. And while it seems we have covered every topic related to millennials, the fact is we are discussing them, and the ascendant generation Z, for good reason. Millennials now make up 35% of the US workforce, and nearly one in five millennials now lead a division or have a position on a senior leadership team. Meanwhile, generation Z is already larger than generation X, and is now graduating college and joining the workforce.

workplace stats for millennials

As you likely gathered from the thousands of think pieces about these two generations, millennials and generation Z have different tendencies than the older generations that have dominated the workforce over the past several decades. It makes sense, these younger generations have grown up in a far different world than their parents—one that is more connected and yet seemingly less stable. Furthermore, they came of age under the shadow of the 2008 recession and ballooning student debt. As a result, they are aware of their worth in the market and the opportunities around them, and they do not want to rely on a single employer or government program to ensure their long-term financial stability. Due largely to this generational instinct and the current strength of the job market, they are willing to make moves to advance their careers—44% of millennials plan to leave their job within two years.

Needless to say, this frequent turnover is a major concern for employers, and is poised to become more prominent as millennials and gen Z take over an even larger share of the job market. Depending on the level of the employee and the calculation methodology used, turnover can cost anywhere from 20% to 200% of the employee’s annual salary. Whichever way you choose to calculate the cost of turnover, reducing it is surely an effective way to reduce overhead and maintain organizational knowledge.

So, assuming your organization is committed to retaining its millennial and gen Z workforce, how can you best create a ‘sticky’ workplace that encourages employees, of both younger and older generations, to stay loyal and build their careers with your company?

5 aspects of employee stickiness

Through a mixture of research and our own experience as a FortuneBest Workplace for Millennials,’ we have identified five key aspects of employee stickiness and retention. Through a series of articles, we will explore each of these areas, identifying why they matter, what leading companies are doing to address them, and considerations for how you can invest in your employees through efforts in these areas:

  1. People and Culture – Employees spend most of their week surrounded by coworkers in an office environment. How can you create a workforce of people who value one another and enjoy spending time together, and how can you develop a culture that reinforces positive core values?

  2. Mission – Young Americans are increasingly socially conscious, and businesses are adapting to this new reality. How can you connect the recurring tasks that make up a workday to a larger mission about doing something new or making the world a better place?

  3. Compensation and Benefits – Modern employees understandably place great emphasis on their compensation, while also expecting a range of benefits that fit their personal goals. How can you compensate your employees for the value they provide, while offering a range of benefits that meet their financial needs, career trajectory, and lifestyle goals?

  4. Purpose in Work – Compensation may be enough to get employees to show up and meet their job responsibilities, but purpose is what drives them to go the extra mile. How can you craft a workplace that allows employees to derive meaning and purpose from their work?

  5. Professional Development – Millennials are no longer just entry-level employees fresh out of college. How are you crafting professional development opportunities, from training and development to career progression, that allow employees to grow their careers within your organization?

Every generation has its own traits and perspectives that are colored by the world they emerge into. This is true of the millennial generation and will also be true of their immediate successors. As they take on roles in society and business that carry greater power and influence, the world will surely change to reflect their characteristics. How will you respond?

Interested in learning more about employee engagement? Curious how Credera does it? Reach out to us here to find out more! Or find the rest of the series here:

Part 2: People and Culture

Part 3: Vision and Mission

Part 4: Compensation and Benefits

Part 5: Purpose

Part 6: Professional Development 

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