Within five years of this article’s writing, the Millennial generation will represent 75% of the American workforce. They are also the generation that is more than three times as likely to “job-hop” than non-millennials.
According to a recent study by Gallup, Millennials are a generation that is “less engaged in the workplace than are their older counterparts” while simultaneously “behav[ing] as consumers of workplaces, shopping around for the jobs that best align with their needs and life goals.”
This analysis is telling. Add to all this the fact that high Millennial turnover costs the U.S. approximately $30 billion per year. You can begin to see why the trend has become such a huge problem for American businesses.
So, what can business owners and H.R. departments do about it? How can small-to-mid-sized organizations retain employees on their more-limited budgets? Read on to find out.
Looking At The Whys Of Millennial Turnover.
If you’ve been paying any mind to the data, you’ll probably notice that many larger companies cite “culture fit” as one of the most reported reasons for millennial job departure. This vague term can mean many things, depending on whom you ask — but it’s often less a matter of “fit” than of feeling like companies don’t have a culture at all.
Most millennials (and now Gen Zs) have a desire to feel like they belong to a workplace, according to a study cited by Business Insider. They need to identify with their employer to be engaged and retained over time, perhaps reflecting the heavily integrated, deeply social world in which they grew up.
Other reasons for departure cited by the younger generations include frustration with the lack of guidance they receive from employers and supervisors, a sense of being devalued and underappreciated, and a need for flexibility that isn’t being met by their employers.
A strong content strategy is the beating heart of any business’ culture, and it is also a proven and reliable way for executives and employers to stay “in touch” with the people who work for them.
Using integrated content such as articles, surveys, whitepapers, company newsletters, social media accounts, and blogs to foster and sustain a sense of shared company culture can cut back on employee dissatisfaction by a significant margin.
Company culture has many definitions. As stated by a Western University study, one of them is “a shared set of beliefs and values, reinforced by an organization’s symbols and structure, and manifested in the way people think and act.” Such symbols and manifestations are quickly and affordably supported by a cohesive content strategy that begins with values and ends with those values’ ability to match the ones held by employees.
Millennial Values And The Changing Career Culture In America.
Millennials, unlike many previous generations, aren’t as interested in company events or retreats. Instead, they seem to respond best to a long term, far-reaching strategy involving the content methods mentioned above — and the commitment to company values and culture as exemplified by them.
In KPMG’s “ Meet the Millennials” report, the organization reached the conclusion that companies “need to shun the perception that socialization at work is a distraction and start actively encouraging it. One way to do so is by embracing social media and encouraging employees to use it during the working day.”
Additionally, the study’s authors found that “millennials crave knowledge. They’re used to having information at their fingertips, and thrive off processing it. In short, if they’re not learning, they’re not developing. […] Companies need to prioritize learning and, more importantly, upgrade how it happens.”
By disseminating internal content that informs, this thirst for knowledge can be satisfied on an ongoing basis. Millennials and Gen Z employees have been raised in an environment that celebrates personal development on a broader scale than ever before. Companies need to leverage their ability to present opportunities for that development in a way that matches this principal value.
Whether it’s through social media posts, company podcasts, or written content, millennials and Gen Zs have made one thing clear: they expect employers to make an effort to reach them, educate them, and communicate with them regularly.
What “Engagement” Means (& Doesn’t Mean) When It Comes To Your Employees: A Personal Anecdote From A Millennial Content Expert (Me!).
I’ll finish this piece with a personal anecdote. I’m an in-betweener when it comes to the millennial/Gen Z divide, and when I graduated from college, I took a job as an editor at a company that sounded amazing on paper.
It was an excellent opportunity for me — I wanted to break into the writing and editing world, and this seemed like the way to do it. The problem was that the company spent a great deal of money on recruiting and P.R., but very little on internal content or the meaningful development of company culture.
I say meaningful because, while this employer hosted many undoubtedly expensive events and had the quintessential millennial workspace set up (complete with a fantastic coffee station and soda machine), they didn’t present a unified sense of culture.
After a large merger, the result of this was that their already-high turnover rate increased. The organization’s many departments weren’t connected, and most employees felt distant from the departments outside of their wheelhouse. The below-market pay became a much worse problem than it would have been otherwise.
The recruiting content this company used missold many of its positions, which was one of the chief complaints cited by departing employees. The feeling of being unheard by the C-suite, undervalued in general, and unengaged on a broad scale all contributed to the problem. It’s why I left after five months on the job — as soon as a better, more personalized offer came up for work, I jumped at it.
And why wouldn’t I? My intention here isn’t to rail against this employer — they’d be an excellent fit for many editors, sales reps, and other young professionals looking for work right now. The problem was that they made no effort to communicate that, and they also didn’t provide any meaningful way for employees to offer their insight and suggestions.
I saw more than one other employee leave my small department during my short tenure at this company. High millennial/Gen Z turnover is a problem many businesses face today, and it’s one that could have been — and still can be — solved with a well-planned content strategy.
How To Leverage Internal Content — Your Company’s Turnover Tourniquet.
In order to stop the slow bleed of turnover among millennials and Gen Zs, an effective internal content strategy would start by reaching out and asking them for their thoughts. This isn’t a radical idea — but many business owners and HR professionals aren’t sure how to attain this employee insight.
The content that works best for this is a simple, well-thought-out survey. It shouldn’t be thrown together, either. It should include a warm introduction, a statement about why you are conducting this survey, an assurance of anonymity (that you’ll keep), and some information on how you plan to utilize the survey’s results in the future.
Keeping the number of questions below ten is advisable, as this will keep engagement levels at their peak. If possible, offering some incentive like a restaurant gift card helps ensure you get a useful number of responses. Here are some question examples:
- What are the areas where your employees are struggling?
- What kind of management style do your employees prefer — hands-on, structured, mentor-based, flexible?
- What inspired your employees to apply to work at your company, and in what way have their expectations been met or not met?
- (If your turnover rate is observably high) What do your employees consider the biggest factor in employee turnover, and how would they suggest you work on it?
From your results, you can determine the direction your internal content strategy needs to go. Some of the questions will be hard-hitting, like the last example I gave, and that’s not only necessary but also a good way to establish trust and rapport with your staff.
Outlining an entire content strategy is beyond the scope of this article, but some ideas might be:
- If your employees feel like they aren’t getting enough opportunities for personal development, consider creating an informative newsletter and set of video courses based on the experiences of your c-suite and other administrative officials.
- If employees feel they aren’t being heard, start an employee-run blog with a dedicated space where they can submit questions, suggestions, and ideas — the blog can then explore these through posts and interviews.
- If there are problems with the recruitment process, look at the materials being used for this purpose and rework them with the dedicated help of real, on-the-ground employees who have a deeper understanding of the work your business does.
- If staff feel like they weren’t given proper training before taking on their role, have your onboarding content scrapped and rewritten to be more engaging and as clear as possible; this can be through new S.O.P’s that include employee case studies gathered from various departments, entertaining infographics, and online forums where new employees can ask questions together and receive answers from their more experienced colleagues.
There are countless other ways you can use content to improve employee satisfaction and, therefore, retention. Meeting with a professional content strategist is a strong investment if you feel you need expertise. It is essential that you integrate millennial and Gen Z employees’ insight and views throughout this process. As stated earlier, we like to be a part of the action!
In Conclusion, Millennial Turnover Stops Where Good Engagement Begins.
With the huge changes brought on by the global pandemic, employees need to feel engaged and connected more than ever before. It is up to employers to take the reins of their business’ culture into their own hands and direct it toward a better future.
High turnover rates can destroy a business if left unaddressed. In the past, many businesses have taken to blaming millennials or Gen Z employees for their own “lack of loyalty” toward their workplaces. Still, these same companies rarely look at the facts and consider what they offer to make these young professionals want to stay.
A content strategy isn’t just a matter of sending “quote of the week” emails and putting up branded motivational posters. It’s a dedicated mindset that takes into account the needs, wants, and hopes of employees and turns them into material that will incentivize employee retention for years to come.
It can change your entire company culture, skyrocketing productivity and saving you huge amounts of money on training and professional development programs when done correctly. It can reinvigorate your business model, bringing in fresh, creative insight and adaptable processes that you might never have had access to before.
In short, it’s an investment with an ROI that not only includes financial savings but also goes much deeper than that. Get out your whiteboard, call up your staff, and start finding the way to their hearts through an incredible content strategy!
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.