Millennials were three times more likely than non-millennials to change jobs in the last year, and 91% don’t expect to stay with their current organizations longer than three years. In a Workforce survey, 80% of respondents agreed that their definition of loyalty in the workplace had changed over time.
More and more, employees define loyalty as it pertains to the job at hand. They are hired to perform specific tasks and will learn and do them the very best they can. Once they feel they have mastered this role, they will seek out a new opportunity in order to have more responsibility and/or higher wages. The mentality is, “You pay me to do X, I do X, and we are even.” Whether the next step comes from within their current organization or they have to make a move, they have fulfilled their obligation and were loyal in doing so. Hence, whether one works for a company 10 years or 10 months, they consider that “loyal.”
The workplace has become transactional for the employee. More and more workers are taking the view (and rightfully so) that they are the sole drivers of their own careers. The concept of climbing the corporate ladder leaves too much of that control in the hands of others. In the traditional corporate ladder model, growth (either in skills, leadership or compensation) can be too easily hindered.
So what can you do to retain top performers in your organization? Here are three keys:
1. Know your employee value proposition (EVP) for each role and make sure it aligns with the employees in that role. EVP is inclusive of many pieces, including compensation, rewards, benefits, mentorship, employee brand and the work product itself, among other components. Know the EVP for each position. If you have employees looking for growth and advancement but the position at hand does not really provide that, you will have to either move the employee to another role or understand that you will lose them — and probably sooner rather than later.Identifying those mismatches will allow you to make proactive decisions.
2. Make sure that employee reviews include time spent understanding how your employees see their own careers developing. Understanding where an employee wants be career-wise will help you make better decisions. Not every employee has a clear career path in mind, and some have high expectations but not a clear road map. By sitting down and understanding where an employee expects to go, you have the ability help co-pilot the journey. Obviously not all goals can met, but realistic expectations should be embraced, even if it means mentoring an employee knowing they are going to be leaving when the right position becomes available to them. The fact that you take an interest and help them grow may prolong their length of engagement with your organization or even create a boomerang opportunity down the line.
3. Know upfront that three years is long-term planning for your employees, and preparing accordingly is imperative. If you can’t see where your employee will be in three years within your organization, assume they will be working for someone else. Creating a succession plan, even for lower-tiered positions, will help avoid crisis when the inevitable happens. In a perfect world, you would always have employees who are ready to move up the ladder of success within your own organization. But since we do not live in a perfect world, you should be constantly evaluating who you are most at risk of losing. Anyone with more than one year in your company should be looked at and evaluated based on how they match up with the position’s EVP and how close they are to moving into a new role or gaining new responsibilities. Ultimately, each of your employees is looking at their career through those same optics.
Keep these thoughts in mind next time a good employee hands you their notice. Understanding the new reality of employee loyalty and being proactive to the changing workplace will keep you and your company ahead of the talent curve.