by Rich Folts
Millennials will compose 75% of the workforce by 2025 . As this generation grows up and gains more experience in the workforce, employers are struggling to attract and retain a high-value segment of this generation: mid-level talent. This segment – made up of employees who have 8-10 years of experience and are at manager level – is critical to any company’s success.
Like their younger counterparts, this mid-level group is technology savvy and determined to advance quickly in their careers, but they’ve developed the ability to effectively manage teams and mentor younger members of their generation. As baby boomers retire, mid-level employees – armed with ambition and technical skills – will be the key to propelling companies forward.
This is a particularly pressing issue for businesses in my home state, Michigan, which will see 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age each month until 2020. After 2020, the numbers only accelerate. Each year, thousands of millenials gradate from Michigan state universities—literally in the backyard of Michigan-based businesses. While some of those millenials, especially those that grew up here, will stay close to their stomping ground, many will leave as they gain more experience.
If companies in Michigan–or any state– want to stop exporting the talent they develop, they should implement the following best practices:
- Branding Your Company (and Corporate Culture) as a Source of Big IdeasMillenials in the mid-level range are not only looking for meaningful work, they’re looking for a company where they can leave their mark. Michigan companies must brand their corporate cultures as forward-thinking and open to new ideas if they want to retain this key demographic. This can be challenging for “non-sexy” industries like manufacturing and automotive, but companies like Troy’s Altair Engineering, one of the winners of the Economic Bright Spots Award, have managed to do it. The company employs over 700 local employees and emphasizes its big-thinking culture in its recruitment efforts: “You’ll find a different culture at Altair in the way we work, how we interact, and the collaborative approach we bring to projects. Your ideas are heard, your efforts are visible, and your work impacts company growth.”
- Prioritize Professional DevelopmentAccording to the Center for Economic Studies, the median length of job tenure for 25-34 year olds was 3.2 years in 2012. Though mid-level millenials change jobs at a slower rate—most likely because they often have families or own homes—they have the same need for constant change and professional growth. Making professional development a critical component of your company culture, allowing for lateral promotions, and encouraging employees to pursue additional skills training will encourage mid-level employees to find the growth they crave within your organization.
- Encourage Work-Life IntegrationMid-level millennials are looking for a different type of work-life balance. While they want time for their families and personal pursuits, they also want to be passionate about the work they do. In other words, they are willing to work long and hard, as long as they love the work and can do it on their own schedule. Work-life integration is about flexibility, not necessarily less hours. In fact, according to research by the Intelligent Group, 74% of millennials want flexible work schedules. Developing a culture that allows, for example, working parents to leave the office at 3pm and finish projects later in the evening after their kids’ bedtime, will be highly attractive to talented mid-level professionals.