Employee Life Cycle & Manager Development from the Ground Up

By Samantha Schilke; October 1, 2019

As a Millennial navigating work-life balance (with plenty of millennial friends doing the same), I have noticed patterns develop in my generation’s job life cycle.  First excitement & curiosity followed by grinding, stagnation & burnout, circumvented with recognition or promotion which circles back to excitement again.  I am finding people I know are woefully underprepared for professional life.  Combat ‘millennial’ issues by understanding the life cycle to develop the next generation of leaders at your company and improve culture. Here are some things to consider:

Recruiting – Millennials are better educated than prior generations, but not necessarily more experienced.  Around four-in-ten Millennials (39%) have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 25% for Baby Boomers and 29% for Gen Xers.  Yet, Millennials entered the workforce with record-breaking low unemployment and well-educated people I know spent months and even years struggling to find positions in line with their education without on-the-job experience – so no way to get the experience.

Now, it appears recruitment is shifting from a focus on experience, to a focus on unique skills and talents through assessments and screening processes like ones we see TeamStrength member companies using regularly.  Culture-fit continues to be a prominent focus for current recruiting standards.  Hiring someone with less experience but proper skills and culture-fit means job education should play a stronger role in the early life-cycle of a new employee.

Consider investing in StrengthsFinder and DISC for top candidates to better understand how they will fit in your organization and how to best engage and develop them for the future.

First 90 Days – With Millennials ready to leave companies as soon as they feel it is not the right match, carrying the recruiting process into the first 90 days is crucial.  A study done by Gallup in 2016 says 60% of working millennials are open to a new job opportunity.  Millennials crave a job with a purpose not a paycheck.  When the initial excitement of a new job wears off, they tend to look for something more.

Social media has bred an endless search for happiness fed by motives beyond a paycheck.  Having a detailed 90 day strategy with checkpoints and a developmental path is crucial for engaging Millennials with the company’s  purpose.  Continue to highlight how your company is making a positive change in the world beyond the recruiting period.

Maintaining Engagement – Avoiding stagnation and burnout with real-time feedback, transparency and more.  Brought up in a world full of immediate gratification, Millennials seek consistent feedback based on real-time situations.  Building processes for feedback loops in multiple directions (leaders/manager to employees, employees to leaders, employees/leaders on products/services) that are properly vetted and responded to can create a dedicated culture of engagement.

Play the Social Media game of comparison to your favor and allow transparency between employees of similar levels – aiding a culture of competition and teamwork.  Let Millennials see how they stack up to each other for extra motivation and consistent encouragement at a low cost.

Work-time flexibility is a growing reward driven by employees who want to better integrate work-life balance.  Consider flexible hours, with structure focused on outcomes.  As companies shift to a focus on ROI over hours, you can engage Millennials in their next stage (family).

Utilize the technology that Millennials grew up with to personalize employee’s working experience and the relationships they have the company.  Find AI/programs that help you track life events and allow employees to inculcate their technology prowess into everyday work life through applications such as Slack and Teams.  Provide creative benefits for employees to bring their whole selves and personalities to work through office attire, desk swag, and more.

Different Doesn’t Have to be Bad.  Millennials are here to stay and will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025.  Over the years, negative stereotypes have dominated about the “lazy and entitled” workforce, who were raised with a different understanding of the world – real and digital.  Baby Boomers who established the traditional 9-5 work culture are consistently thrown for a loop with weird requests from their younger employees such as pet insurance and gas reimbursement for regular commutes.  Help educate them on what makes sense for business.

Companies who engage their Millennial workforce will surpass competitors.  Make this generation your company’s secret weapon by aligning to their values.  Find a way to provide ownership, innovation and purpose for leaders right down to frontline employees.  Offer visibility to compete with friends and counterparts.  Let them put their Social-Media-inspired pursuit of happiness to good use.  Be proactive and build in checks through engagement surveys, skip-step 1-1s and more. Execute employee experience well and watch engagement, satisfaction and productivity increase.

Examples of Companies Embracing the New Employee Experience:

  • Airbnb has an appointed “chief employee experience officer” whose job it is to serve employees – through building a healthy and satisfying food program, providing employees with the latest technology, recruiting the best and brightest, and ensuring that their buildings are an optimal work environment. Airbnb’s employee-experience team aims to drive the company’s health and happiness.
  • Adobe recently combined customer-experience with human-resources and facilities to create the new “Customer and Employee Experience” organization. The focus of the new organization is on the people who are essential to Adobe–their customers and employees–and the understanding that people want the same fundamental things: to be treated with respect for their needs and their time, to find the information they need quickly, and to feel invested in a long-term relationship, whether it’s with the employer or the brand.
  • Ford Motor Company launched a global listening tour to understand what is effective and ineffective in its employee experience. Based on the findings, the Ford HR team will deliver high-impact, innovative workforce solutions and experiences that improve workers’ lives.

A Note on Setting Home-Grown Managers Up for Success

You may notice star employees-turned manager experiencing isolation and negativity when shifting into their promoted role, above the peers who used to cheer them on.  See Office Vibe’s Guide for a detailed overview on the shift from star performer to people manager and how to best set up future managers for success.  https://www.officevibe.com/complete-guide-new-manager