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A Better Workplace



Millennial Professionals Seek Flexibility and Recognition


By Melissa J. Anderson

A new global study by PwC seeks to identify key characteristics about Millennial staff throughout the firm. But, the researchers say, they found just as many similarities between Millennials and people of older generations as differences.

The report, “NextGen; A global generational study” [PDF], was created by PwC, the University of Southern California, and the London Business School and relied upon the online survey responses of 40,000 members of the firm’s workforce. The researchers also used about 300 one-on-one and group interviews alongside a statistical comparison of surveys of Millennials and non-Millennials at the same work stage. The result, PwC says, is the largest survey of its kind ever undertaken.

Dennis Finn, Vice Chair and Global Human Capital Leader at PwC, said, “The breadth and scope of this research is unprecedented. It captures a broad array of insights into the motivations, priorities and work preferences of the youngest generation now in the workforce, as well as of their more senior colleagues.”

“PwC’s study discovered that the stereotypes about Millennial employees are more false than true. Millennials’ attitudes are similar to those of older employees,” he continued. “The compelling nature of this research will enable PwC to lead by example, and has already helped guide us toward making cultural and structural changes in how we manage, promote and compensate our people.”

Retention Tactics

Millennials already make up about two thirds of PwC’s workforce, and, the report points out, “Within that group, most are unmarried (75%) and without kids (92%), and for three out of four of them, PwC is their first job out of college.” The proportion of Millennial employees at the firm is expected to increase to 80 percent in the next three years. That’s why it’s critical that for the firm to get a better grasp of how and why this generation works. Finn explained, “By 2016 almost 80% of our entire workforce will be Millennials. We are passionate about providing them, and all our people, with the best environment to maximize their personal development and performance.”

He added, “The Millennial generation is already transforming long-held management practices within the workplace. Employers who want to recruit Millennial employees and keep them engaged and happy will need to adapt to meet their needs.”

The biggest challenge revealed by the study was that Millennials lacked interest in the traditional leadership pathway within the professional services, whereby they are expected to put in an “intense work commitment” early on, and be rewarded with partnership later.

In order to attract and retain workers of the Millennial generation, the report presents a number of solutions, most of which would be appealing to anyone of any generation. For example, 71 percent of PwC Millennials and 63 percent of PwC non-Millennials say that work interferes with their personal lives. PwC suggests that employers work to incorporate more flexibility into scheduling.

“If they were able to make their current job more flexible, 64% of Millennials would like to occasionally work from home, and 66% of Millennials would like to shift their work hours,” the report says. “Across the board, 15% of male employees and 21% of female employees say they would give up some of their pay and slow the pace of promotion in exchange for working fewer hours.”

The report also delved into the factors that lead Millennials to quit their jobs. For Millennials, the top reasons to leave the firm would be if their needs for support, appreciation, and flexibility were not being met. On the other hand, non-Millennials at the firm said they would be most likely to leave if they are not being paid competitively of they perceived a lack of development opportunities.

“Understanding these and other differences will help target customized solutions that will promote retention and an engaged workforce across all generations and levels,” the report says. By finding ways to make employees feel supported and appreciated at work, and by incorporating more flexibility into the workplace structure, professional services firms can help attract and retain more Millennial employees. Considering that this group is the growing majority of the professional workforce, firms like PwC would be wise to find ways to attract, retain, and develop them into leaders.

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How Homophily Can Boost Younger Employees (and Hold More Senior People Back)


By Melissa J. Anderson

New INSEAD research into how information flows across formal and informal networks within organzations has revealed that homophily can help junior employees access important information. But that benefit diminishes and actually reverses for more senior people.

Homophily is a long name for a common phenomenon: the tendency of people to seek out those who remind them of themselves. Researchers Gokhan Ertug and Martin Gargiulo studied the relationships of workers in the equities division of a global investment bank and found that people were indeed more likely to seek out those like themselves when they needed information or advice on a task-related topic.

For junior people, relying on homophily resulted in gaining access to more senior people with useful information. But for senior people, relying only on others who are like themselves actually led them to ignore colleagues who could provide valuable information – to their detriment.

Their research shows how the homophily trade-off works. “We argue that, while homophily might make it easier for workers to request and obtain knowledge from colleagues, it might also prompt them to approach less qualified colleagues.”

They add, “As is the case with other properties of informal networks, whether homophilous ties can help or hinder someone’s performance depends on the position the actor occupies in the formal (and informal) structure of the organization.”


Understanding Generational Differences Can Boost Retention


By Melissa J. Anderson

Employers are facing a challenge today in onboarding and retaining workers who have the skills to replace the generation of Baby Boomers that is approaching retirement. That means firms will have to ramp up their learning and development efforts in a meaningful way.

A new Pershing study, “Inaugural Study of Advisory Success: Defining Success Today and Planning for the Future,” on investment advisors shows that the career motivators that Gen X and Millennial advisors have don’t necessarily match the ones of their Baby Boomer predecessors. For investment advisors this is particularly challenging. After all, much of the high net worth client base will be made up of individuals of the Baby Boomer generation. In order to serve them appropriately, younger investment advisors will have to learn some of those Baby Boomer skills and attributes.

And that’s the key challenge identified by a new study by Pershing. Baby Boomers are finding it difficult to connect with their successors in order to train them to take on the business in the coming years. That also makes it difficult for investment firms to retain high performers who become discouraged.

According to Pershing, 12,000 to 16,000 advisors will retire in the next ten years. The industry will have to add 237,000 new financial advisors to replace them and meet growing demand for their services.

“It is evident that the financial advice industry will face a talent shortage in the coming years,” said Kim Dellarocca, director of segment marketing and practice management at Pershing. “Each day, the industry sees young advisors exit the industry and never return. Firms need to think about how to recruit and retain younger advisors by understanding their key drivers and motivators – and convey to them that being an advisor is a rewarding and fulfilling career.”

Pershing’s study can provide some insight into those generational motivation differences, advising employers on how they can better attract, retain, and develop young advisors.


Fulfillment is a Key Factor in Gen Y Retention


By Melissa J. Anderson

As Gen Y employees take up more and more jobs around the globe, employers are facing a challenge: traditional retention techniques (like raises and bonuses) simply aren’t keeping younger workers engaged. The Oxford-based iOpener Institute for People and Performance set out to find out why with a study of 18,000 young people in Europe, the US, Australia, India, China, and Africa.

According to iOpener’s founder and director, Jessica Pryce-Jones, what motivates of Millennial employees is simply different than for older workers. She said, “This Generation Y insight report provides an important wake-up call for management to pay attention to employee feelings of engagement, empowerment, purpose, and future development if they are to retain and foster young talent in their company.”

Pryce-Jones continued:

“The science of identifying and improving people’s happiness at work is now an exact one, with proven method and, most importantly, measurable commercial advantages. Recruiting talent is expensive, so measures which retain younger staff save hard cash, and avoid expensive business disruption. Positive word-of-mouth recommendations across a Generation Y employee’s social network play a powerful role in attracting talent, and therefore provides employers with hard financial advantage.”

By focusing on the things that do motivate Gen Y retention, employers can better meet the talent challenges moving forward.

Diversity, Generations

What Motivates Job Seekers in Each Generation


By Melissa J. Anderson

According to a new study by Millennial Branding and Beyond.com, members of different generations are finding different ways to search for jobs online. At a time when the stakes are higher when it comes to finding the perfect applicant – because there is less room for error due to the tough economy and jobs environment – finding the best way to reach the right people can save employer time, money, and stress.

The study, which polled over 5,000 job seekers, showed that more Boomers are looking for jobs online than any other group, with 96 percent of Boomers reporting having conducted their job search on the Internet. About the same percentage of Gen X respondents were also likely to do their job search online (95 percent). Surprisingly, Gen Y was the least likely to perform an online job search at 92 percent.

All of these percentages were high, but what may be more interesting is how few job seekers were spending time searching for a position offline. Only 4 percent of Boomers and Gen Y individuals, and 5 percent of Gen X were participating in an offline job search. That could indicate that effort spent to hire talent at job fairs or expos may not be the most effective way for employers to reach people.


Connection Between Age and Leadership is Blurring


By Melissa J. Anderson

According to a new survey by CareerBuilder, age is becoming less and less a prerequisite for leadership. One third (34 percent) of survey respondents said their boss is younger than they are. Fifteen percent said they work for someone over a decade younger than them.

CareerBuilder worked with Harris Interactive to poll over 3,800 full time workers and over 2,200 hiring managers in the United States. According to the survey, most workers said they didn’t mind working for a younger boss. But, they suggested, differences in “work styles, communication, and expectations” show that the structure of work is changing.

Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder said, “Age disparities in the office are perhaps more diverse now than they’ve ever been. It’s not uncommon to see 30-year-olds managing 50-year-olds or 65-year-olds mentoring 22-year-olds.”

She added, “While the tenants [sic] of successful management are consistent across generations, there are subtle differences in work habits and views that all workers must empathize with when working with or managing someone who’s much different in age.”

CareerBuilder broke the group into age segments, comparing Boomers (55 and up) and Gen Y (25-34). The four main differences between Boomers and Gen Y were communication style, views on career advancement, work hours, and working styles.


How Can Big Companies Attract and Retain Gen Y?

Business Team Sitting at a Table

By Melissa J. Anderson

According to a new study by PayScale and Millennial Branding, Gen Y workers prefer jobs at small businesses and tech companies.

According to the study of 50,000 Millennial individuals in the United States, the top five companies for younger workers (based on Gen Y pay, the percentage of Gen Y workers, and measures of Gen Y job satisfaction, stress, meaningfulness of job, flexibility, and environmental consciousness) are all technology companies – Qualcomm, Google, Medtronic, Intel, and Microsoft.

But despite these huge companies topping the list, the “highest concentration” (47%) of Millennial employees is at companies with 100 employees or less. Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding comments, “This report confirms that Gen Y is an entrepreneurial group, highly versed in social media, and prefers freedom and flexibility over big corporate policies.”

Large companies offer many perks to their employees, but according to this survey they still seem less able to recruit and retain Gen Y individuals than smaller firms. Can they learn to compete by creating a more entrepreneurial workplace culture?


Managing Mature Talent


By Robin Madell

While the typical office used to be filled primarily with young people, that demographic is on the decline. Due to lower birth rates and longer life expectancies worldwide, we’re heading rapidly toward work environments where older workers will outnumber younger ones. A Harvard Business Review article by Tammy Erickson discussed this recently, noting the implications of these shifting age demographics for management and leadership, and suggesting ways that companies can better manage this changing workforce moving forward.

One of Erickson’s main points is that many current talent management strategies are based on the older pyramid-shaped model of having only a few older workers in the mix, with a much larger base of young workers. Yet the new geometrical workforce configuration that we’re headed toward may eventually flip the traditional pyramid on its head, requiring companies to rethink many aspects of today’s organizational designs and approaches.

For an example of what this might mean for tomorrow’s employers, we need only look at the United Kingdom. By 2020, 36 percent of the working population in the UK will be over age 50. And research shows that by 2035, the number of people aged 90 and above is expected to triple.

HR Magazine reported recently that according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), UK employers will need to fill around 13.5 million jobs in the next decade—but only 7 million young people will graduate into the job market during this time period. To address this challenge, CIPD produced a guidance document, Managing a Healthy Ageing Workforce: A National Business Imperative, to encourage employers to find ways to start relying more on older workers. The publication focuses on managing an aging workforce through building a business case to support changes, addressing issues of perception, and developing talent management.

When it comes to talent management, below are some areas that Erickson recommends thinking about at the corporate level to help better manage—and cater to—older workforces.


Millennials in Financial Services are Focused on Corporate Reputation and Diversity

Portrait of a young businessman

By Melissa J. Anderson

According to a new study [PwC] released recently by PwC, the majority of millennials in the financial services industry said they want their employers corporate values to match their own. Past research had shown that Gen Y employees tend to be more values-oriented when it comes to their work, desiring a job that was personally meaningful to them, where they felt they were contributing to the bigger picture, and this study is no different.

What’s different about this study is that it also describes just how mobile millennials are.  Only 10% in the financial services sector say they plan to keep their current job for a long time – even less than millennials across all sectors (18%).

Jon Terry, partner, PwC, explained:

“Financial services companies might have a tougher time competing against other industries for the reputation-conscious millennial generation, whose experience and expectations have been marred by the financial crisis. This generation of graduates actively seek out employers whose values reflect their own, so the sector’s ability to restore trust and re-engage with society will be critical in attracting the best talent from current and future graduates.”

The firm draws a connection – if companies don’t tend to their own corporate responsibility and diversity initiatives, and come through on those values in the long run, their youngest generation of employees will not stick around long.


Tips for Building Gen Y Retention


By Melissa J. Anderson

In a recent FastCompany article, Luxury Market Branding CEO Lauren Mallian Bias discussed the core of concerns around Gen Y employment:

“In our current economic climate–with volatility and unease continuing to define many work environments–the distinction and loyalty of the team is of critical importance. More than ever, we need talented colleagues to stick it out with us and elevate our organizations. However, we continue to hear about Gen Y’s feeling of entitlement and immense turnover. What is really happening, and how can we utilize the tools that a number of budding startups are creating to solve some of these issues?”

Bias says that Gen Y has a bent toward mobility and a drive to question “why.” By tapping into these traits, rather than working to tamp them down, employers can work to retain Gen Y talent even when they inclined toward job independence. Here’s how.