New employees are more engaged. They’re motivated, learning, being coddled and wooed by the company, and are growing in exciting ways. Much like the seven-year-itch in a relationship, organizations find new employees can hit a three-year-wall. The excitement wanes, and employees fall into a slump.
Gallup research reveals that, at this three year slump, it’s tough to keep employees engaged. These become job-hoppers, hoping to keep the buzz of new challenges while advancing in their careers. “Ninety-one percent of Millennials (born between 1977-1997) expect to stay in a job for less than three years .. (Jeanne Meister, Job Hopping is the ‘New Normal’ for Millenials , Forbes , August 14, 2012).
Unlike previous generations, whose work goals were security and stability, Millennials find job hopping the norm and an effective way to build skill sets and advance their careers. Naturally, this creates a human resource nightmare, and costs organizations millions of dollars in recruiting, training, and starting all over again. These employees, if kept engaged and inspired, can become the future foundation for organizations. This talent base is something no organization can take for granted. But to get over the three-year-wall, organizations have to implement effective employee engagement strategies to head off possible desertion. These five tips to keep employees engaged should help keep the flame alive.
1. Set long-term goals: New employees need to project their work and goals beyond the three year mark. Cultivate their strengths early on and capitalize on their talents. Show employees the roads they can take, letting them know they can advance in the company with their talents.
2. Flexibility: Create an employee engagement strategy that involves workplace flexibility. Allow employees to adjust their schedules when necessary. The nine-to-five mentality isn’t one in which new generations thrive.
3. Coddle Veterans: Make sure employees that have been with the company for ten, fifteen, twenty years don’t get forgotten. Give them new learning opportunities and challenges. Take time to talk to them, ask for feedback, and provide feedback. Don’t take them for granted.
4. Communicate: Make sure new employees know what the organization expects of them. Communicate the company’s mission, values and goals and be explicit about how the work each employee does contributes to reaching those goals.
5. Select strong managers: Managers must have the pulse of their teams’ strengths. A key management role is identifying strengths, cultivating them, and letting their teams shine. Hiring managers is critical for successful team building and keeping employees engaged.
Job-hopping is the new norm. Before, organizations shied from contracting candidates with resumes that made them look unreliable. Now, though, many of these candidates have developed and cultivated a myriad of skills precisely because they have gone from place-to-place. The key is to recognize the context of their job-hopping and find a way to keep these employees engaged and challenged. With the right employee engagement strategy in place, you may just find your organization is “the one.”