I was having dinner with a few friends just the other night when suddenly the question came up: “What's it like working there?" One of my friends had recently taken on a new management role at a mid-sized technology company, and was excited to share her new found good fortune. She seemed genuinely happy and said that: “For the first time in years I feel reinvigorated and actually look forward to going to work!" Her answer surprised me, partly because she's always been known as a workhorse.
I'd never known her to be anything short of pumped for all things work-related, and at times I even wondered if she was a workaholic. After all this is a woman who would answer her mobile phone while at family and sporting events for work-related issues, never disconnected from her job. Maybe it's because work ethic is deeply ingrained in the American way of life. It's a core part of our culture. But she seemed energized while talking about the company culture at her new company.
Food for thought
Culture starts with leadership. Culture and values provide the foundation upon which everything else is built. Either way company culture determines whether or not people want to work for one company versus another, and is also what drives good employees away. The 2016 Deloitte Millennials Survey revealed that those staying at their companies for a minimum of five years are more likely to report a favorable culture than others.
Also included in the study is--if given a choice--one in four millennials would quit his or her current employer to join a new organization or to start something different. That figure climbs to 44 percent when the time frame is expanded to two years.
By the end of 2020, two of every three respondents hope to have moved on, leaving only 16 percent of millennials who still see themselves with their current employers after 10 years.
Company culture matters to millennials
Millennials, numbering over 66 million, make up 32 percent of the labor force (compared to 31.2 percent for Generation X workers, and 30.6 percent for Boomers). They now own the largest share of the U.S. labor market.
The leaders of tomorrow have become the leaders of today.
They are highly educated, display greater diversity than older generations: 44.2 percent are classified as being in a minority group (belonging to a group other than non-Hispanic white).
Many millennials entered the workforce with high student loan debt, poor employment prospects (due to the Great Recession), and it becomes increasingly clear that a sizable portion of the Millennial generation started out with considerable disadvantages. It should come as no surprise that millennials have little choice but to wait longer before purchasing cars and getting approved for mortgages.
Because of this many millennials endure deferred dreams and perhaps expect to be treated well, not necessarily in a strictly monetary sense, but rather show appreciation in other ways:
-Start Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAPs), for student loans.
-Offer parking subsidy cash-out benefits for employees who carpool or take public transportation to work.
-Offer housing assistance programs (commonly offered to top executives), which might work towards attracting and retaining good employees at all levels.
Implementing workplace policies that benefit workers and help to boost employee retention is good business sense because it can lead to significant cost savings to employers. Across jobs, the cost of replacing an employee is clustered between 10 percent and 30 percent of an employee's salary. One notable exception would be losing executives and physicians-jobs that require very specific skills and training-tend to have disproportionately high turnover costs as a percentage of salary (up to 213 percent).
The realization that much of the conventional wisdom about millennials is based on misconceptions can allow companies to tailor their human capital strategies to the new realities of the workforce.
A focus on experience
Nina McQueen, Vice President, Global Benefits: Redefining the Employee Experience, at LinkedIn, is convinced that LinkedIn has the recipe for company culture. She details her experience of how incredible the culture was, when she joined LinkedIn back in September 2013, and how relevant company culture is personally and for the company's bottom line in her article, titled: “Culture Champions, creating transformative experiences." McQueen writes that: “There is no secret recipe. Culture is about your leadership, the products you develop and your company values. It is unique to each company."
She goes on to say that if you're at a dinner party and the person seated next to you asks-what is it like to work at your company?-what you say in that moment defines the culture of your company. It's unscripted, not something written on a powerpoint, not a slogan on the wall. But it is what you are experiencing as an employee.
Much like McQueen, my friend has impressed upon me her newfound happiness with her new employer...Do you feel the same about your employer?
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