Employers Can Retain Millennial Workers with Transparency, Work-Funded Education

A communications gap between mid-career professionals and their employers hampers future of work planning

Record-breaking numbers of resignations have stumped both economists and employers, leading Texas A&M psychologist Anthony Klotz to coin the term the “Great Resignation” back in May. In a new working paper, the UC Berkeley economist Ulrike Malmendier reflects on the Great Resignation and suggests that the pandemic and the rise of remote work have changed how we view our lives and the world.

Employers are understandably feeling the heat, but to address the expectations of their workers, leaders must first understand who their employees are what has driven the Great Resignation. With a record-breaking 10.9 million open jobs at the end of July, unsatisfied workers know they have options to quit and find something new. Workers want more flexibility and the ability to prioritize their family and personal lives. 

Employees want their voices heard in post-pandemic workplace policies 

The companies that are retaining employees amid the Great Resignation embrace the changes ushered in by the pandemic and collaborate with employees to design new workplace policies. But a recent study found that executives and employees are divided on how they envision the future of work. 

The Future Forum Pulse study found that 66% of executives create post-pandemic workforce policies with almost no direct employee input. About the same percentage of executives believe they are transparent about post-pandemic work policies, but less than half of workers agree that management is sufficiently communicating with its workforce. 

The communication gap between executives and workers is even more important with younger generations. Younger workers, especially millennial and Gen Z workers, want to know that their voices are being heard by management, and they’re willing to find a new job if they are unsatisfied. Millennials are more likely to quit than their younger or older colleagues, and they’ve had the most significant increase in resignation rates, with an average increase of more than 20% between 2020 and 2021.

In the workforce today, millennials outnumber all other generations, and economists say that millennials will represent 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Because of their prominence in the workforce and high standards for post-pandemic workplace policies, employers must understand what makes millennial workers tick and how employers can retain millennials in this tidal wave of resignations.

Millennial employees want work-funded learning opportunities

LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report found that 94% of employees want employer-funded learning opportunities. Over a quarter (27%) of Gen Z and Millennials say the number one reason they’d leave their job is if they did not have enough learning and growth opportunities. 

Research in a PwC study also revealed that Millennials prefer personal learning and development benefits over financial rewards. Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers were more interested in learning “management and leadership” than other skills such as “learning new software related to your role, engineering and coding, and creativity,” according to LinkedIn’s 2020 Workplace Learning Report.

 

Rather than curriculum-based courses on management, Millennials prefer interactive and personalized learning experiences. In a survey by Intelligence Group, 79% of Millennials said they prefer a supervisor who acts as a coach or mentor because they believe it is critical to their professional success. In a 2016 Deloitte survey, employees that planned to work at the same company for more than five years were twice as likely (68%) to have a mentor.

Millennials also value feedback from their management. In a global survey conducted in 2014 with Oxford Economics, 1,400 Millennials admitted they value feedback and want it 50% more often than Gen X or Baby Boomers. Before entering the workforce, millennials demonstrated that education is important to them. Thirty-nine percent of millennials between the ages of 25 and 37 hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, while 29% of Gen Xers and 25% of baby boomers can boast the same achievement.

 

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