Friday, February 21, 2014

Next Gen Leaders: 5 Ways to Attract, Retain & Develop 20-Somethings

20-Somethings: Your Next Gen Leaders

Our next free webinar will focus on how you can develop your next generation of leaders. But, first, you need to attract those future leaders and keep them engaged.

As a 20-Something full-time working professional, I’m clearly familiar with what type of environment I thrive in; however, I also turned to Facebook for other opinions. I wasn't surprised to read that many of my friends had a lot to say on the topic: some happy and some not-so-happy with their current work arrangements. More importantly, we were all on the same page.

We’re pretty simple creatures. We’re old enough to have responsibilities at home but young enough that we thumb wrestle our spouse to get out of them. We work hard, and we want to feel valued and that we are going somewhere with our career. We’re your best weapon. We’re your next generation of leaders. We have the computer knowledge that younger generations have, but we've also got a few years of working experience under our belts. We’re mature but still young enough to be molded into what you’re looking for.

In order to develop next gen leaders you need to understand them. What do they look for in a company? What keeps them engaged? What do they need to develop? Read on to find out the answers.

First, you need to attract the most talented 20-Somethings and make them stay put!

next gen leaders pregnant female professional
Benefits. If you want to retain your 20-Somethings, you need to make sure your benefits are satisfying their needs. While compensation is important, 20-Somethings are also looking for health insurance, sick time, retirement options, tuition reimbursement and maternity/paternity plan options. I know several 20-Somethings who have turned down jobs because the organizations’ benefits fell short of their expectations, and I know many others who don’t want to leave their employers because of how great the benefits are. Remember: the mid to late 20’s are prime time for individuals to start planning and/or raising families. We’re assessing living situations and deciding where we want to settle down. Company benefits will help us accept the right offer, stay put, and more importantly, feel valued. 

“When I was looking for a job last year, I was asking companies about sick time and paternity leave. It was sometimes uncomfortable to bring up, but I’m glad I did. When two companies are offering the same type of job and compensation, it’s the extras that really help you make the right decision.”

Flexibility. Similar to benefits, 20-Somethings are attracted to a company culture that not only accepts the need for a work/life balance, but promotes it; that not only w ants their employees to grow but sees that it actually happens. Why offer your employees the opportunity to go back to school if you’re not flexible with their schedule so they can make it to class on time? It can even be as simple as allowing employees to work from home if the weather is bad or their child is sick. This type of flexibility and trust in your employees will improve your company culture tremendously. Having a flexible work culture will help you attract the best employees and improve employee retention, especially for the 20-Somethings who value flexibility.

“I think flexible work hours/work arrangements rank very highly just in terms of enabling individuals (women, in particular) the mindset that being a career-oriented individual AND a family-oriented individual is feasible.”

Now that you’re attracting 20-Somethings, how do you keep them engaged and growing?

next gen opportunity for growth
Opportunity for Growth. Chances are your 20-Somethings have been in the same position for a few years. It can become, well, boring. 20-Somethings can become anxious working in the same position without any opportunity for growth or advancement. If there isn't a promotion available, find other opportunities for them. Offer them lateral moves and/or the opportunity to take on new projects.

When we say opportunity for growth, we don’t necessarily mean advancement. We need the opportunity to develop our skills and build our resume. Opportunity can be taking on a new client or project, becoming a chairperson on a company committee or encouraging employees to go back to school or take CEU courses.

20-Somethings want to get noticed and build their résumé. If you want your 20-Somethings to be ready for leadership roles in the future, you have to start preparing them now with opportunities for growth and development. The opportunities I mentioned above will 1. Give your employees experience and 2. Keep them motivated to stay with your company.

“I think we all want to feel like we're "going somewhere." Whether it's being groomed for management, or even making a lateral move into a new area of expertise, we don't want to get bored and stagnant in the same old job. I love being volunteered for new projects by my manager because, at the very least, it's a résumé builder that I can take with me anywhere!”

“I’m looking for opportunities for professional development. Continuing Ed, higher degrees, etc.; not necessarily funding it but even providing flexibility for it to happen.”

next gen mentorship
A Mentor. 20-Somethings heard a lot about the importance of mentorship during college, and that idea has stuck with us. My professors recommended having a mentor in our field that we could turn to for advice, motivation or feedback. Some colleges even went as far as to pair students up with a mentor in their field. If your organization can develop a mentorship program for younger employees, I bet it would be very popular and would make your company stand out from your competitors. 

“Having a mentor in my industry has been really beneficial to me, but it would be nice if my company helped set those types of relationships up for us. I would take advantage of that.”

Communication. Employees of any generation can agree that communication is key, especially if promotions aren't readily available or new projects don’t always present themselves. 20-Somethings thrive when employers  communicate with and care about them.

Not sure what your 20-Somethings (or other employees) want? Ask them! You’ll never know what will or won’t work for your company without assessing your employees’ needs. Start a conversation on the employees' goals and values and work together to achieve goals.

Let’s have a conversation on how we can continue to grow into *gulp* 30-Somethings within your company.

And for more tips on developing your next gen leaders, contact Corexcel.

20-Somethings, we want to hear from you! What do you value in an employer? What do you need in order to continue to develop?

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