People age 34 or younger represent an increasing share of the workforce worldwide. In the US, they make up the largest share of the labour market. But the values of the generation also known as Millennials often don’t align with the values of employers. Companies that want to recruit and retain young professionals with leadership talent need to adjust, Deloitte research suggests.
Two-thirds of the young professionals studied – all of them college graduates and most working in companies with more than 100 employees – expect to look for a new job or quit to do something different by 2020, according to Deloitte, which polled almost 7,700 young professionals in 29 countries.
Loyalty to the current employer is lowest amongst young professionals in emerging markets. The percentage of respondents who said they want to leave their jobs in the next five years was highest in Peru (82%), South Africa (76%), India (76%), Colombia (75%), South Korea (74%), and Chile (71%). In the UK it was 71%. In the US, it was 64%; in Canada 61%; and in Western Europe 60%.
Even young professionals who were heads of departments or divisions, or had a senior management or board position, expressed intentions to change jobs relatively soon. Fifty-seven per cent of respondents in senior positions expected to leave their current employment before the end of 2020.
“It’s so easy to look and see what else is out there,” said Shana Kneib, CPA, CGMA, associate accounting manager at US tech company Trueblue. “You’ve got the technology to go surf on different job boards or connect with people on LinkedIn. If you’re not happy, there’s nothing stopping you from going there.” Kneib, 32, has changed jobs twice in the past two years.
Several factors play into the loyalty challenge, according to Deloitte:
- Young professionals feel most businesses have no ambition beyond profit. That is not aligned with their own values, which focus on long-term business success and creating jobs. In previous Deloitte surveys, 5% of young professionals said a focus on profit would ensure long-term success. Respondents felt more positive about the effect of treating people fairly (26%), ethics and integrity (25%), and a customer focus (19%).
- A majority of young professionals (63%) said their leadership skills are not being fully developed by their current employer. In Brazil, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand that figure exceeded 70%.
- The scale or age of a business, or the social media buzz surrounding it, impresses only few young professionals. Sixty-three per cent said they focus on the quality of products and services of a business, 55% on customer loyalty. Only 27% viewed social media buzz as important.
Young finance professionals in Nigeria who want a fulfilling career and good benefits have little choice but to switch employers frequently, said Ikechukwu “Ike” Anugwom, ACMA, CGMA, country financial controller at Solar Turbines Services in Nigeria. Few labour laws and an oversupply of job applicants make it difficult for young finance professionals in the part of Nigeria where he lives to find employers with good benefits and a talent retention strategy, Anugwom said. Also, top managers and executives tend to work until they’re 70 and then get hired back as consultants right after retirement.
“Leadership development takes effort and money,” he said. “A lot of employers are not willing to put this effort and money into young professionals. You see people jumping from job to job to get better benefits and develop leadership skills.”
Employee turnover tends to be lower at multinational companies that have started to offer young finance professionals jobs with good benefits, he said. Anugwom, 32, has worked for Solar Turbines Services, a Caterpillar subsidiary, for more than five years.
The labour market for finance professionals is much more competitive in the US. A shortage of skilled talent is expected to boost starting salaries in 2017. Still, the reasons that young professionals worldwide listed for switching jobs rang true with Kneib.
“If I don’t get purposeful, challenging work, there’s not much reason for me to stick around,” she said. “You only get one life, and at the end of each day you have to feel you’re doing something important and you’re creating long-term value.”
To recruit and retain Millennials, Deloitte suggested four strategies that support young professionals’ career and life ambitions and provide them with opportunities to become leaders:
Encourage mentorship. Mentoring was more prevalent in emerging markets (67%) than in mature markets (52%) and benefited 61% of young professionals where it existed.
Of the respondents who had a mentor, 94% described the quality of the advice and 91% the level of interest shown in their development as good. Eighty-three per cent were satisfied with the mentoring they receive.
Those intending to stay with their organisations for more than five years were twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%). Amongst those intending to leave within two years, 56% had a mentor, and 44% did not.
Mentorship levels were particularly low in Australia, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, and France.
Have purpose beyond financial success. Young professionals tended to be more loyal to companies that support the needs of the individual and focus on more than just corporate profits.
More than 80% of respondents who planned to stay longer than five years said they were satisfied the companies where they worked have a purpose beyond profits, make use of employees’ skills, offer professional development, and recognise personal achievement. Of those who planned to leave their jobs within two years, satisfaction with these corporate measures was around 25 percentage points lower.
Provide developmental opportunities. Just 24% of the survey respondents said they were very satisfied with learning opportunities and professional development programmes at their jobs – two measures that help retain young professionals.
Satisfaction was higher when an employee’s values were aligned with his or her company’s values, an employee intended to remain for more than five years, cross-team collaboration was high, and an employee felt in control of his or her career.
Know what influences recruitment. Pay and financial benefits were most important for young professionals worldwide in evaluating job opportunities (22%). Excluding salary, respondents valued a good work/life balance (16.8%) more than opportunities to become leaders (13.4%) and flexible hours (11%). Work/life balance was particularly important to women and to young professionals who weren’t parents.
This broad pattern of preferences varied some in certain markets. The opportunity for career progression was the top priority after salary in Argentina, Peru, Mexico, India, Colombia, South Africa, and China. In Japan, career progression was ranked sixth, and it came in fourth in South Korea and Belgium.
—Sabine Vollmer (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.