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?
Starting with a little background, I am an anti-bullying advocate and have recently graduated from The Parent Leadership Training Institute, where as part of our studies we were asked to come up with a community project close to our hearts and put it into action. My cause was bullying, and I began a blog and Facebook page to address issues pertaining to all forms of bullying. Implementing this project was followed by a thre- minute speech to my peers, and, after all this, here is what I have learned about bullying.
Bullying makes people feel bad about themselves, leading to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and even physical symptoms. The repercussions of bullying can cause people to miss school or work as well as countless other negative side effects.
I have been bullied both at school and at work, and I know of others who have suffered the same plight. It is not fun!
My first bullying experience was in seventh grade as a young teen. There was a group of three "mean girls" who harassed me and, I later found out, several of my friends; they thought it was funny to pick on others about their clothes, their looks or whatever else they could come up with (who knows). It felt awful at the time. Supposedly, I was chosen to get picked on because they claimed I bought my clothes at the Goodwill. That wasn't true, but really who cares? Why they were picking on me was never really the point. Luckily, after a while, the meanies went on to the next victim(s) like a never-ending cycle. I tend to think once a bully, always a bully, which goes to show how good a lifestyle that is, because those "mean girls" never amounted to much. In hindsight, I feel sorry for them. Watch the movie The Gift if you're really curious about what happens to bullies when they grow up.
And bullying was not just an issue when I was a teen, since then nothing much has changed. My own nephew was bullied in eighth grade, and he recently talked to me in depth about of how the bullying took a toll on him. Especially because I had the same experience, I could relate to him in ways that some others couldn't. Like reliving my own memories, I was incredibly broken up to hear how it made him feel.
Even worse than that, bullying does not end in the school yard. Employees are being bullied on the job at an alarming rate. When you are bullied on the job as an adult, it taken an even bigger toll. Further it doesn't just go away like those middle school "mean girls." Unless you can quit your job, you might just be stuck. There are all kinds of physical symptoms, stomach pains, migraines and even panic attacks. Beyond the physical, people's mental and emotional state is extremely sensitive to bullying, and as a result work performance might suffer. Furthermore, it might feel like there is no recourse, no one to believe you. You can hope that the HR Department is willing to listen and do something about it, but the whole process can be so disheartening. And in the hierarchical corporate environment, sometimes the bully seems to get ahead and you are left lagging behind in a subservient position. This is what happened to me as a victim of workplace bullying. It started with me being told by a co-worker that my boss was following me to the bathroom, staring down the hall whenever I left my desk to make sure I came right back to my seat. Then it was standing over me as I typed, ordering me to get in a car with them, not allowing me to sit somewhere if it wasn't within their sight. The list of offenses could go on endlessly. There were times I felt like I couldn't breathe. And then, the bully torturing me got a promotion. Like the character of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, the classic bully is revered by her peers, despite the fact that all of her employees are terrified of her. Yet, she is in a role of high stature and praised as a bully. We live in a culture that is not only complacent in the existence of bullies, but one that actively allows them to thrive.
It makes you realize how unfair life can be. Of course, no one said that life would be fair; maybe you just assumed that bad people would not get ahead. But, they do. Even now, I cannot help but to shake my head in disbelief. I often wonder what makes a person feel the need to laud their power over another. Are they insecure? Were they bullied themselves? They must feel bad about themselves in some way? Do they feel the need to do this to make themselves look good? Whatever the reason, it certainly isn't nice at all. I have found myself at different times in my life standing up for people who have been bullied around me. And I certainly do not allow anyone to treat me in any way that I find disrespectful. I truly believe in karma, and I tell myself that at some point in time, the bullies will get it back in some way. I have seen it happen, and in the meantime, I just say to myself "What goes around, comes around."
Bullying shows no sign of slowing down, and in this day and age, it's even worse than I have experienced in the past. Cyber bulling, rumors, fist fights, knifes, guns and other forms of both mental and physical cruelty, it truly sickens me. I know that I cannot save everyone, but I try to be an advocate as much as possible and encourage others to do so as well. NO ONE SHOULD BULLIED! It is disgraceful to say the least. You should always practice grace as much as you can. With every person who chooses to do so, the world gets a little bit better. I will be writing more on this topic on a regular basis; I feel it helps to talk about this subject aloud and spread the word. and, if nothing else, be kind.