I have a confession to make. I’m a Millennial:one of those fragile-yet-entitled sorts you’ve been warned about. We’re steadily streaming into the workplace with all sorts of unreasonable demands and decidedly questionable work ethics. (Or so I’ve heard.)
However valid the criticisms of our shortcomings may be, we young folk represent a deep bench of talent willing to work hard to prove ourselves. Our resumes are short, but the best of us are still difficult to get. With low unemployment, the competition for the best and brightest is hot.
And it’s not just getting 20-somethings in the door that counts—it’s keeping us once we’ve arrived.
How? The key to enticing—and holding on to—the stars of the next generation lies at least in part in the thoughtful integration of great technology tools that enable employees to do their best work.
Why Does Hiring and Retaining Millennials Matter?
1. You Can’t Avoid Us
Like us or not, hiring Millennials simply isn’t optional anymore. We’re now the largest living generation, comprising everyone born between 1981 and 1997 according to Pew Research, and we probably make up the majority of your lower- and mid-level employees. In other words, we’re the ones who are essential for the day-to-day operations of your business.
2. We Job Hop
A 2016 Gallup poll found that 21% of Millennials had changed jobs within the previous year—a rate that may not sound steep until you consider that it’s three times higher than that of any other generation. The same poll found that only half of Millennials strongly agree that they’ll be working at the same company in a year and that 60% consider themselves open to new opportunities.
3. Turnover Is Expensive
Even if our individual value doesn’t feel compelling, the danger of losing people should.
Maia Josebachvili, former VP of Strategy & People at Greenhouse Software, argues that the cost of turnover may be even larger than we think. She published a case study that concludes the monetary difference between keeping a salesperson (who, in this example, makes $5,000/mo and brings in revenue of $50,000/mo) on board for three years instead of two is a jaw-dropping $1,300,000 in net revenue.
That number isn’t for losing the VP of Sales. Not for losing a regional director. Just for bidding farewell to a normal salesperson. (And probably, a Millennial.)
Gallup agrees, estimating that Millennial turnover costs the US economy $30.5 billion every year.
Can’t I Just Pay Them More?
Sure, everyone wants to make good money, but salary consistently ranks low among Millennials’ top job search priorities.
There’s no doubt that you’ll get bonus points for a beer fridge and a ping-pong table, but more than anything, Millennials are searching for one thing: career advancement opportunities.
Yes, but according to a LinkedIn study about why and how people change jobs, 50% of Millennials cited “concerned about lack of opportunities for advancement” as the top reason they sought other employment, compared with 42% of Gen Xers and a mere 28% of Baby Boomers.
Similarly, the American Psychological Association (APA) reports that a major motivator for turnover is feeling undervalued. An APA survey found that 50% of respondents who didn’t feel valued in their jobs intended to look for a new position within the next year. What’s more, two of the most commonly cited sources of workplace stress were lack of growth opportunities (41%) and an overly heavy workload (41%).
The Role of Tech in Hiring and Retention
Deloitte’s 2017 Millennial Survey provides a slew of interesting insights into the attitudes of today’s young people, particularly regarding their perceptions of technology. For example, though the majority of Millennials surveyed expressed a pessimistic outlook regarding economic progress, they tended toward optimistic attitudes when asked to reflect on automation in the workplace.
More than half (62%) believe automation will improve productivity (compared to only 9% who said it would have a negative effect), and 53% think it will lead to economic growth. Perhaps most significantly, 44% said that automation would give them more influence within their organization, and 46% answered that it would give employees opportunities to learn new skills. Note that these numbers are much higher for “super-connected” Millennials—those who make above-average use of social media—a category into which many marketers likely fall.
You know what these optimistic attitudes about automation sound like to me? Perceived opportunities to advance.
That optimism isn’t misplaced.
Much of the value provided by marketing technology is felt directly every day by those doing the heavy lifting in your content operation. Tools that streamline workflows, automate once-manual processes, and provide performance insights free up untold amounts of time for those who are ultimately responsible for ensuring content is created, distributed, and measured.
When the busywork is handled by a great tech stack, creators like me can do their jobs more efficiently and gain greater insight into the effects of our efforts. This enables us to make better strategic suggestions and take on bigger projects with our newly acquired time.
What’s more, it empowers you, as a boss, to give your content team more autonomy, turning time once wasted by micromanagement into time spent pursuing your own projects and goals.
We achieve more. You do too.
And I’m not just speculating. I, myself, am a prime example of a young person whose experience has been shaped by tech in the workplace.
After graduating college, I worked for a non-profit organization that, to put it mildly, did not embrace technology with any particular gusto. As owner of our social media and email campaigns, I felt this lack of tech every day as I slogged through metrics, manually uploaded data, and got lost in long email chains as I hunted down colleagues for content submissions, edits, and approval signoffs.
Within my first year on the job, I had trimmed my processes down to be as efficient possible. Still, I had barely any time left over to think about the big picture, pursue meatier projects, and feel like a valuable and growing contributor to the team. Eventually, I came to accept that the only way I could grow my career would be to hire a new person to do my busywork and free up my time.
It turns out that most of my most frustrating, time-consuming work could have been offset by the right technology. But it wasn’t, and I left within two years.
Let me make one thing clear: I’m not advocating that you chase after every shiny piece of technology that floats by. Too many tools can be just as damaging as not enough, especially if they make production more confusing, silo teams, and result in a million mysterious dashboards, each populated with its own content, data, and workflows.
What I am suggesting is that organizations take the time to talk to and understand their teams, right down to the lowliest associate. Many MarTech tools benefit the lower rungs of your organization most of all, freeing up time spent on unnecessary tasks that could be spent making real and valuable contributions to your business. Millennials are, after all, the next generation of leaders. Not only do we expect great technology and feel comfortable using it—these tools help us to do our jobs better and make real differences in our organizations.
The possibilities opened by the right tools help your youngest employees envision a future within your company and make greater contributions to it, leaving you with a longer-tenured, more valuable team. Everybody wins.