How long do you expect that new grad to stick around? 18 months? Two years? What about the employee who is on her third job since graduating from college in 2012. She's definitely a short timer, right?
Jack Jampel, HR expert and a former co-worker and de facto boss of mine (I never reported directly to Jack, but he was definitely a leadership influence in my career), is a bit frustrated with the idea that we can't count on employees to stay around any more. He wrote on LinkedIn
"PLANNING FOR SHORTER EMPLOYEE TENURES IS THE NEW NORMAL". Over the past several weeks I have now heard this referenced three times as a potential upcoming new "business strategy" and it is quite concerning. Millennials have a reputation for moving from job to job, being constantly on the lookout for the next best thing. I bet if you survey Baby Boomers, many have moved from job to job just as frequently as Millennials in their first five years. One of the most critical factors impacting the frequency of job movement is where one is in their life (i.e. married or single, children, home ownership, etc.) and not simply because you were born during the "Millennial" generation. Lets hope we don't see Talent Management modules popping up on "How to Manage and Get the Most out of Short Term Employees". These will be the companies who are not investing enough time and money in developing the right strategy and implementing the right technology to ensure your employee satisfaction and engagement is both up-to-date and impactful. Oh, and by the way.... I also love working from home and I'm no Millenial :-)
I love the idea of a Talent Management module called "How to Manage and Get the Most out of Short Term Employees" because it lays it straight out. What can you get out of these people without putting anything in?g
Is It Us or Them?
I stayed at my first job or 18 months. I loved it. So why did I leave? Because, while the company had lots of internal grown opportunities, for me to stay in HR, I would have had to move. The company didn't owe me growth, of course, but they couldn't provide it either. So I left.
If there are no opportunities for growth, why would someone stick around? If senior management believes that employees won't stay around, why should they invest in the employees? If there is no investment, why would the employee stay?
What we blame Millennials for is likely a mix of life stage and lack of real growth opportunities.
Do We Only Hire People Who Have Done the Job Before?
If we aren't willing to train people, we can only hire from the outside. We depend on other companies to do the training. That is a very short-sighted policy. Can we really expect our companies to succeed when we've so completely outsourced our training to our competitors? All companies have unique needs. Are you addressing them or are you holding out for the perfect candidate?
Do We Keep Pace with Salary?
People know that if they want a good raise, they have to move to a new company. Why? Why would you want to lose your employees and then pay more to recruit, onboard, and train someone new all at a salary larger than the one your previous employee had. You remember that employee--the one you wouldn't give a raise to because she lacked experience.
If you want to keep employees, try looking at how your pay policies affect your turnover.
Generation or Life Stage?
Do Millennials stay in jobs for the short term because they were raised that way or because they are in a different stage of life? As people marry, buy houses, and have children, they'll be more dedicated to the company. It's not so easy to move around when you have obligations.
As Jack Jampel pointed out, planning for employees to stick around for very short amounts of time means we wash our hands of our obligations to train and develop. We just get as much out of them as possible and then wash our hands. Not a recipe for success.