— August 7, 2017
How do you keep millennials satisfied at work? What do they really want? Free lunches, monthly raises, a standing desk that doubles as a ping pong table with a built-in snack fridge?
It’s not that complicated. According to an extensive Gallup study, there’s one thing millennials want at work that managers aren’t giving them: room for growth.
The graduating class of 2017 will bring 2 million new millennials into the work force and a whopping 87% of them say they want a job that provides “professional or career growth and development opportunities.”
59% look for “opportunities to learn and grow” when they’re searching and applying for jobs. (Only 44% of Gen Xers and 41% of baby boomers say this is important.)
And if there isn’t room for development at their current company, millennials will find it elsewhere.
“Managers need to recognize that millennials don’t feel entitled; they feel empowered,” the study reports. “They want to expand their knowledge and skills, they want to be useful, and they want their work and workplace to have meaning to them.”
It’s time for employers to step up to the plate and give their teams a clearer path for development and growth. Here’s how.
1. Don’t post a new job until you can answer this one question
You’ve asked candidates this question in interviews a hundred times before: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Time to turn the tables and ask: Where do you see this employee in five years?
Identify the career trajectory for a role BEFORE you post a job listing. If you don’t know where this job will lead over time, you aren’t ready to hire someone. If you don’t see the job going anywhere, why would anyone want to apply in the first place?
This can be especially tricky when you have an immediate need for a new employee and you want to hire someone fast. But don’t hire before you have a long-term plan—and always think at least five years ahead.
2. Advertise that there’s room for growth
In each job posting, explicitly say that you offer development opportunities and room for advancement within your company. (Only if you actually offer these things, of course. If you don’t… time to take a step back and reevaluate your strategy.)
It can be a simple sentence. Here are a few options:
“We’re looking for a candidate who can grow with the company.”
“We provide free development and training opportunities to help you get to the next level.”
“Depending on your skills and strengths, there are various opportunities for advancement after 2-3 successful years in this role.”
3. Be honest about expectations and timelines
In interviews, tell candidates exactly what the path up the ladder looks like.
Are you looking for someone to rise quickly through the ranks, or do you expect a new team member to pay their dues for five years before advancing?
Are promotions based on time spent at the company, or are they based on merit? What do employees have to do to prove themselves and get promoted?
What developmental opportunities do you offer? Online courses? Mentorship programs? Tuition reimbursement?
Can employees easily switch departments and create their own opportunities? Or are they expected to follow a prescribed career track?
Be honest about what candidates can expect.
4. Create career tracks
Speaking of career tracks, it’s shocking how many companies don’t have standardized paths for their employees to follow.
Junior copywriter ? copywriter ? senior copywriter ? associate creative director ? creative director.
Too often, a new role is created without any thought as to where it could lead. Promotions happen haphazardly, and employees don’t understand why someone else got promoted and they didn’t.
Without a clear track and timeline, millennials get frustrated and feel like they’re not going anywhere. With a clear track and timeline, they have concrete goals and can see the big picture.
The best way to attract, hire and retain the best talent is to provide opportunities to grow and be challenged. Develop your team members, and your company will be better off in the long run.