Capability development in a Millennial world


 How companies need to adapt their capability development approach to suit a Millennial workforce.

We are all familiar with the mantra ‘our people are our most powerful asset’, but with employee retention levels on the rise, it seems not all companies are expert at hanging on to these powerful assets.

Retention is particularly challenging for the Millennial contingent. 25% expect to work for 6 or more employers, and a further 50% expect to have up to 5*. Around 70% of Millennials see themselves working independently at some point in their lives, rather than being employed in a traditional organizational structure.**

By 2025, Millennials will constitute 75% of the global workforce**, so this is not a problem to ignore.

It may seem surprising that a generation starting their careers – often with significant debts to pay off – and who are all-too-familiar with the vulnerability of the workplace thanks to the financial crisis, should be so quick to hop jobs. But this is a generation who have grown up with the likes of Zuckerberg and Chesky as their role models, who expect meritocracy, and who crave advancement and pace in their development.  And by that I do mean development, not necessarily promotion.  If they don’t find this in the workplace, they see no reason to stick around.

Capability development plays a crucial role in stemming the declining rates of retention. But this isn’t just about retaining talent for their future contributions, it comes down to pure maths too: the average cost of replacing a lost employee is a whopping £30,000***. This is is P&L critical stuff.  Here are Flock’s top tips for future-proofing your Millennial retention through capability development:

  • Use your marketing skills inside the workplace. Many organisations are expert at consumer-centric marketing for their products or services, but fewer apply those skills and thinking to better understanding their workforce and to ensure they are providing a working environment that supports their needs. Only around half of millennials, for example, believe that their business is doing all it can to develop their skills as a leader.**
  • Approach learning in a new way. On the job learning has long been recognized as one of the most effective ways of upskilling your team. However, for global brands it can be hard to effectively control a consistent approach just through on the job learning, and so it’s best supported by other means that reflect the Millennial generation’s technology-centric way of learning. This doesn’t mean trying to replicate classroom style learning digitally, which so many companies fall into the trap of, it means embracing a new approach. Gamification, virtual reality and sharing forums for example. Let your younger generation workers co-create the approach to make sure it fits with their ways of working and learning.
  • Nurture the entrepreneur. Reports suggest that Millennials are often leaving not to go to a competitor, but to do their own thing. Allow the opportunity for that entrepreneurial spirit to thrive within the organization, and it could be a win-win for both of you. Barclays, GSK and Deloitte are among companies offering innovation funds to employees so they can develop their entrepreneurial skills in the context of their day job.
  • Build leadership not management skills. All too often the debate about how to ‘engage’ Millennials fails to address the need for change in middle management’s approach. We need to embrace feedback as a day-to-day activity not a formal bi-annual process. We need to set clear goals with clear deadlines, not micro-manage tasks. We need to coach not dictate.   But interactions between ‘leaders’ and employees are unlikely to change without the necessary capability support in place for those managers. Citigroup, for example, requires every manager to have coaching before working with an intern.
  • Let capability development take centre stage. Are you transparent about what it takes to progress in your organization? And do you offer support to help people progress?  Show your employees their development is important to you, let them help shape how they learn, and it will pay dividends: better quality work, higher employee satisfaction and improved retention rates.

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