Special Edition: Guest Contributor Penelope Trunk
When young people talk about wanting faster promotions or higher salaries, it’s a red herring. What young people really want at work is opportunity for personal growth, but they’re scared that you won’t be able to give that to them, so they ask for a promotion instead. The problem is that a title change and four percent raise are not going to matter much to the twentysomething who is not planning to climb your corporate ladder anyway.
What will matter? Here are three ideas for what you can do to retain generation Y without caving in to a raise or a promotion. These ideas come from my book, Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success.
(1) Flexible hours. When managers institute a policy for measuring work completed rather than hours at the office, employee turnover decreases by more than 50%. Younger workers are the most indignant when it comes to being required to work 9-5 every day. So instituting flexible hours will have the most impact on this group of employees. Don’t be shy about countering a request for a raise with an offer for flexible work days. In poll after poll young workers say flexibility is more important in a job than money.
(2) Training. The average salary increase is four percent. Even if it were double that, you are not going to change anyone’s life with that raise, and they know it. But training and building a new skill set can change someone’s career by opening new doors. So find out what sort of skills your employees are looking to build and help them with that education. Also, keep in mind that training doesn’t have to cost your company a cent. Young people place enormous value on mentoring. They want constant feedback. Offer structured, constant feedback in place of salary increases and promotions. If the mentoring is good, the lack of promotion won’t be a sticking point.
(3) Intrapraneurship opportunities. If you ask young people what their dream job is, most will say entrepreneurship. But most don’t have any idea what sort of company they might start. So, in the mean time, while they’re dreaming up company ideas, they need corporate jobs. You can endear yourself to your young employees by giving them intrapraneurship opportunities – these are startup situations within a larger company that give participants training for when they want to start their own company. You can also help a young person to engage in work by explaining why a given skill will be essential to their future as an entrepreneur.
In one of the great ironies of the new generation, if you teach someone skills to run their own company, they are more likely to stay longer at your company. Because the new workplace currency is training and skill building, and that’s what makes young people stay in your job.
Penelope Trunk is a columnist at the Boston Globe and her syndicated column has run in more than 100 publications including the Wall St. Journal’s Career Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.