Millennials, those born between 1980 and 1996, make up a majority of the workforce and by 2020 will comprise nearly half of all workers. Millennials, as with previous generations before them, have been labeled as job hoppers. Perhaps job hopping is a symptom of youth or perhaps millennials truly are different from previous generations. Either way, understanding the job issues millennials must contend with and their motivations will help you better retain them as employees.
According to Gallup, these are the five most important issues millennials consider when applying for a new job:
· Opportunities to learn and grow
· Quality of manager
· Quality of management
· Interest in type of work
· Opportunities for advancement
Below are a few statistics that paint a better picture of the millennial workforce climate.
· Sixty-three percent of millennials have a bachelors degree.
· Forty-eight percent of them work in jobs that don’t require a four year degree.
· 6 in 10 millennials are open to different job opportunities.
· 21% of millennials have switched jobs in the last year – 3x higher than non-millennials
· Non-engaged millennials are 26% more likely than engaged millennials to take a different job for a raise of 20% or less.
· Of the millennials that changed roles last year, 93% did so by changing companies.
· 59% of millennials say opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job.
· 48% say that overall compensation is extremely important to them when seeking new opportunities.
· In their current jobs, 87% rate professional or career growth as important to them.
· Less than 50% of millennials strongly agree that they’ve had opportunities to learn and grow in the last year.
· 77% of millennials say that flexible work hours are essential to boosting their generation’s productivity.
· Fifty percent do not believe Social Security will be available when they reach retirement.
· Fifty-six percent would not work at a company that banned social media access.
· Sixty-nine percent believe office attendance is not necessary on a regular basis.
· 89% of smart phone owning millennials regularly check email outside of 9-5.
We now have a better view of the picture plaguing employers. Millennials want more growth opportunities. Millennials are working in jobs that don’t require a degree. Millennials desire more work/life balance. Millennials value social media and half feel they need to earn money now because no social security will be waiting for them when they retire.
Employers must do a better job of retaining their millennial workers by offering growth opportunities and benefits such as flexible hours that are more in tune with millennial desires. They must also continue using social media and technologies such as video interviewing to reach younger workers routinely accessing the web and their social media presences over their phones.
As mentioned, 46% of the workforce will be made up of millennials in four years and if 60% of them are open to new opportunities, you have a significant chunk of the U.S. workers who could be jumping ship. This benefits nobody in the long run. So if you are looking for a New Year’s resolution it should be to retain, retain, retain.
Every organization wants superstar employees and some will even delay the hiring process weeks or even months until that perfect candidate blips on the radar. What happens though if once you find your purple squirrel, they have mange or rabies? Do you cut them lose or keep them around for their quota busting, nut gathering ability?
Economist Dylan Minor and Cornerstone OnDemand’s chief analytics officer, Michael Housman, examined nearly 60,000 workers to determine the cost of retaining toxic workers. In their study, they define “toxic” as conduct harmful to an organization’s people or property. They found that retaining toxic workers, even those residing in the top 1% for productivity, cost far more than the rewards reaped from a toxic employee’s high production.
Their study revealed that a top one percent worker could produce over $5,000 in annual cost savings however a company could avoid $12,000 in costs by not hiring a toxic worker. In short a toxic worker, even if they are super productive, is far more costly to an organization than an average, non-toxic worker. Take a look at the chart below provided in their study!
Even though a worker in only the top 25% of productivity saves a company far less than one in the top 1%, the study shows that replacing a superstar toxic worker with a less than stellar non-toxic worker, to still be the more cost effective choice.
Why are toxic workers so much more expensive? The most apparent answer is turnover. Toxic workers drive other employees away and the cost of replacing those employees is high not to mention that morale and productivity often drop until a replacement is found. Additionally toxic workers produce other toxic workers. Negativity spreads like wildfire.
Interestingly enough, toxic workers are more productive in terms of their output and one 2013 study found that unethical workers remain longer at organizations. This explains why toxic workers are so often selected and even retained for long timespans.
In summary, avoid hiring a toxic worker if you can but should you find yourself burdened with one or many, remove them despite their high production. As former GE CEO Jack Welch put it, “People are removed for having the wrong values…we don’t even talk about the numbers.”
I recently read through two lists regarding how to raise children. “Science say parents of successful kids have these 11 things in common” and “How to Raise Happy Kids: 10 Steps Backed by Science.” “Science” was the word that most drew my attention because obviously science implies that these tips are more than just suggestions, they are backed by research.
As I scanned the list I contemplated how many of these could be applied to how we should raise our employees in the workplace. Here are a few of the following traits that parents of successful children have in common.
- They have high expectations. The Pygmalion effect states “that what one person expects of another can come to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Parents who expected more of their kids had children who showed greater success on standardized testing. Could we not expect the same results when expecting more from our employees?
- They have healthy relationships with each other. Children with parents who maintain a great relationship with one another whether intact or divorced fare better than those surrounded by high conflict relationships. Managing our employees in an atmosphere of minimal conflict should produce the same effects.
- They develop a relationship with their kids. Why not reach out to your employees?
- They’re less stressed. Emotional contagion is a psychological phenomenon where feelings spread from one person to another like a cold. Stressed out managers, especially in cube farms common in many office spaces, will spread their stress like the plague.
- They value effort over avoiding failure. I once worked with a company whose owner would frequently say, “Don’t confuse effort with results!” He lost a lot of good employees! Science backs up the suggestion that we should focus on effort. Telling your employees they succeeded because of their effort teaches a “growth” mindset and as a result your workers will accept more challenges and will embrace failure as an opportunity to improve.
Happier kids are more likely to grow into successful adults and so common sense suggests that happy employees too should be more primed for success. Here are a few of the suggestions on how to raise happy kids from the article mentioned above.
- Get happy yourself! As discussed above, feelings spread. As a manager you can choose to spread good will or bad will.
- Teach them to build relationships. Your employees aren’t too old to be taught how to better interact with and encourage one another. Lead by example!
- Expect effort, not perfection. From the book, Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, “Parents who overemphasize achievement are more likely to have kids with high levels of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse compared to other kids.” Depression causes 200 million lost workdays and billions in lost productivity according to the CDC. As noted in the first set of bullet points, focusing on an employee’s efforts allows them to better embrace failure and can reduce depression.
- Teach optimism. Optimists are more successful at work, healthier and have fewer bouts of depression. Teach it and live it!
- Teach emotional intelligence. Read my post “Emotional Intelligence: Why it Trumps all other traits” and you will learn why this is the one trait to rule them all.
- Eat dinner together. Eating dinner together is great for families but while I’m not suggesting you invite your employees to your home for taco Tuesday, joining them at lunch or in the cafeteria if you have one, will help you establish healthier relationships with them.
We place a lot of emphasis on raising successful children but perhaps not enough on raising successful adults. Why not, when our success greatly hinges on the success of the people with whom we spend as much time as our children?
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a person’s ability to be aware of and monitor their own behaviors and emotions. Individuals with high EQs better understand their strengths and weaknesses, have more self-control and exhibit more initiative.
In a previous post, “Skills vs. Attitude: What Lands the Job?” I noted that cosmetics giant, L’Oreal found that their sales people with a high emotional intelligence score outsold their peers by $90,000 per year. Further corroborating the benefit of emotional intelligence, at least among sales people, a study of over 40 Fortune 500 companies indicated that sales people with high EQs performed better than those with medium to low EQs by 50%. The same study showed that technical programmers with EQs in the top 10% produced software three times faster than those outside this range.
The benefits of high EQ are not limited to increased productivity. Studies have shown that workplaces with lower average EQs, in addition to experiencing lower productivity, also report higher rates of burnout and turnover.
The vast benefits of high EQs don’t end with high productivity and lower turnover. Studies also show that those with lower EQ scores experience twice the rate of anxiety, depression and substance abuse all of which lead to increased absenteeism from work. Individuals suffering from depression are better than twice as likely to take sick days. Lost productivity and increased medical expenses as a result of depression costs businesses more than $83 billion dollars each year and these expenses occur year after year.
Depression aside, stress and anxiety suppress the immune system making one vulnerable to illness which of course leads to increased absenteeism. Since high EQ individuals are less prone to bouts of stress and anxiety, their ability to better fight off infection and remain at work is superior. Even more impressive is the research that suggests emotional intelligence can speed up the recovery of major illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Studies have shown that men and women recovering from cancer or heart attacks were able to reduce their levels of stress, keep a better diet and build a stronger immune system when developing emotional intelligence skills during recovery.
In short, employees with high emotional intelligence produce more, handle stressful situations better and work more often than their low EQ counterparts. I suggest you hire them!
If you are a high EQ employee, don’t worry, there are benefits for you too. Since individuals with higher EQs are more productive they naturally make more money. Studies show that every extra point of emotional intelligence adds $1,300 to an individual’s annual salary. This is true in any part of the world, in any industry and at any level!
The bottom line is that cultivating emotional intelligence is good for your business, good for your health and even good for your wallet!
Last month I read an article on the Huffington Post titled The Perils of the Automated Online Interview. The author, a Harvard student, criticized automated online video interviewing after performing poorly during the video interviews he took for three different employers. Since the student had been so burned he suggested in his article that cameras have no place in the interviewing process. Continue reading “Is the Automated Interview Fraught With Perils?” »
If you are employed but unhappy with your job you may have heard these words when grumbling about your work week to a friend, “At least you have a job.” If you’re a manager do you feel your employees are lucky to even be employed? This attitude might be influencing you to treat them in ways that do not contribute to their success or well being. I mean if you believe they have no other place to go, then your investment in retaining them might be fairly minimal, fueling their disengagement. Continue reading “U.S. Workforce: Why Is Everyone So Miserable And What Can We Do About It?” »
If you have no children you probably know little about Flappy Bird, a supposedly insanely addictive app available for mobile devices which was removed from Google Play and iTunes in February by the developer. At the time of its removal the app had been downloaded at least fifty million times and was generating an estimated $50,000 a day (A DAY!) for the young Vietnamese developer who still lives at home with his parents! Badgering complaints from the app’s many users over how the addictiveness of the game was ruining their lives is the primary reason he removed it. But don’t worry about the poor kid; he is still making plenty of dough from all the ad impressions still generated by the fifty million plus users who downloaded it before he pulled the plug.
The ridiculous amount of money he is making and why he shut it down is not important. Why people went so gaga over such a rudimentary game is. The game’s objective is simple. You control a bird as the name suggests and you must simply navigate your bird through a series of pipes that extend from the top and bottom of the screen. Tap fast and your bird soars upward. Tap slow and he plummets. The graphics are about as advanced as what your 90s’ Nintendo system provided. There is no sprawling 3-dimensional fantasy world or crime infested city through which to navigate. Flappy bird uses no special weaponry nor does he possess any flashy powers. He simply flies up or down across a 2D cityscape.
So why do so many people continue to play the game for hours at a time? Because they have a goal and that goal is to beat their previous record. With each pipe through which your bird successfully passes, you get a point but if your bird dies you start back at zero. As frustrating as the game is, users simply won’t put down their devices. They are ensnared by a challenge and reward system. When they break their high score their phone let’s them know it and they can show off their achievement to their friends.
What does any of this have to do with motivating employees? Well, convential wisdom tells us that the more monetary incentives you provide the more motivated your workers become. While cutting pay may de-motivate a worker, doubling pay has not been proven to improve motivation. In fact psychology research shows that rewards provide only temporary conformity. Teresa Amabile, a Harvard professor, has found through her experiments that a sense of progress is necessary to staying engaged. An evaluation of the diaries of 238 workers across seven companies showed the following:
“….making progress in one’s work — even incremental progress — is more frequently associated with positive emotions and high motivation than any other workday event.”
Now you get it right? Flappy Bird is addictive because users have the chance to progress each time they play even if just a little. That sense of accomplishment which often is absent in the workplace gives us a rush of sorts.
Amabile’s suggestion to help create a sense of progress is to provide workers with goals, necessary resources to accomplish those goals, and then support each worker with emotional support and respect. And, I would add, create a feedback loop to provide workers with progress reports.
If you doubt this then explain why a kid with a $50,000 a day income and growing, basically quits? The reason; he had no more goals, he had no emotional support and he received no respect.
Is A Lack of “Executive Presence” Impeding Your Career?
A report from the Center for Work-Life Policy, a non-profit research organization recently found that though they are highly ambitious and motivated, Asian professionals are unable to reach senior positions at their companies. According to Asians in America: Unleashing the Potential of the ‘Model Minority’, sixty-three percent of Asian men feel stalled in their careers. Forty-one percent of Asian men said the bias issues they faced were severe enough that they’ve scaled back their work efforts and nearly twenty percent said they plan to quit within a year.
These biases, labeled as the “bamboo ceiling”, occur as Asians move up the corporate ladder and are held back from executive positions through the perception that they don’t have “executive presence”. This presence considers factors such as appearance, self-confidence, poise, authenticity and an individual’s ability to “look the part” as defined by the corporate culture.
The bamboo ceiling and this assumption that Asians lack executive presence brings up yet another set of criteria for which job candidates are assessed. Today job candidates are screened for not only their qualifications and skills but also a number of behavioral characteristics most candidates don’t consider, and for which many hiring managers don’t even realize they are subconsciously screening. These may include is the candidate “likable”, do they appear “healthy”, are they dressed appropriately and well groomed and now, do they have “executive presence?”
Job candidates should try to be aware of all the criteria for which they are now evaluated. Is your lack of self-confidence hurting your chances at securing that sought after leadership position as is allegedly occurring with Asian professionals? Are you discriminated against based on your weight or appearance because companies fear paying the health care costs associated with overweight individuals?
While no hiring manager may admit to eliminating a candidate for anything but a lack of qualified skills, a myriad of other issues influence the hiring manager’s decision. Actors with years of experience and training must still audition for roles for which they are suited based on criteria such as their age, weight, and height, not just their comedic and or dramatic ability. So too must qualified job candidates with years of experience now “audition” for executive positions based on a number of similar criteria that could make or break their role as superstar employee.