Aon Hewitt: 43 percent Millennials unhappy with boss

13 February 2015

Almost half of Millennials are set to be on the lookout for a new job in 2015, citing the lack of their current employers’ engagement with their need of a good work/home balance, employee recognition, loyalty and respect as reasons to look elsewhere, according to recently released research from Aon Hewitt. To retain talent and engage employees toward profitable business outcomes, employers need to start taking the expectations of the generation seriously.

The relationship between employers and employees may be becoming terser as a new generation of workers and their expectations come to clash with the predominant business culture of feeding the bottom line, reveals a survey of the mind-set of a group of 2,539 employees working across a range of participating US companies with more than 1,000 employees. While the survey, ‘Inside the Employee Mind-set’, covered the whole age demographic, the responses from the Millennial group* are particularly telling of divergence of expectation – as the generation comes to play an ever more important role in the business value chain.

Millennial mind-set
According to Aon Hewitt’s findings, Millennials feel that what they value in an organisation is different than the priorities of their current workplace. One aspect of the survey was to have respondents give “words I currently use to describe my current employer”, the Millennials particularly found “an organisational-orientation” theme telling of their current employer, with teamwork, profit and customer satisfaction high ranking. Millennials seek different values from their work, and while they do not want to be in the poorhouse – with 51% citing pay and benefits highly in their needs from employers – the terms of how they want to be valued by their employer shows significant divergence. Millennials particularly look for improvement in their career development opportunities at 39%, performance recognition at 38%, followed by open and complete communication at 34%, a flexible work environment at 33%, with 30% valuing a strong management and leadership team, and 30% citing fun as a strong value.

Millennial values on the work floor

“Beyond wanting competitive pay and benefits, Millennials expect to feel appreciated for their efforts, see opportunities to advance, be more empowered in the workplace, and also have the flexibility to balance their lives at work and home,” says Pam Hein, Partner Communication Consulting at Aon Hewitt.

As it stands, from the research, 43% of Millennials plan to actively look for a new job in 2015. If they were all successful in their intent to get out of the work environment that they feel no longer suits their development or other needs, it would represent a sizeable turnover for businesses. “It's not surprising that employees in their mid-twenties and thirties are more likely to job hop as they look to advance their careers and improve their pay and benefits,” says Ray Baumruk, Employee Research Leader at Aon Hewitt. “However, our research shows there is a clear disconnect between what Millennials expect and desire from employers, and what their employers are actually offering. This gap is negatively impacting the engagement and retention of this generation, and may be one of the primary reasons why Millennials will be looking for new opportunities in 2015.”

Happy working Millennials

Retaining Millennial talent
To lower the turnover rate by meeting the expectations of this new generation, Aon Hewitt recommends to keep the generation’s talent engaged through honest and direct communication, meeting the employees’ need for flexibility in work arrangements around their wider lives, and providing clear development and pay evolution within the company; by meeting these needs companies too will benefit, according to the research, by employing higher levels of engaged staff, improving the performance of the business.

“Younger employees want to work in an environment where information flows freely and authentically and where people know they can count on one another. The data show there is a significant opportunity for employers to offer a more unique and compelling work experience that will match what Millennials want, and in turn increase retention long-term,” concludes Hein.

* Millennials (also known as Millennial Generation or Generation Y) are the demographic cohort that follows Generation X. The generation is contains people with birth dates ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.



Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

17 April 2019

Soft skills matter in the workplace just as much as technical expertise, writes Samantha Caine, Managing Director of Business Linked Teams.

For too long technical expertise has been seen as the marker of a strong candidate for development into a sales or leadership position. Sales and leadership candidates are tasked with demonstrating a diverse and wide-ranging set of technical skills, yet their aptitude in these technical skills or ‘hard skills’ cannot signify great leadership potential. This is why a healthy balance of soft skills and technical ability is required. 

So what exactly is the difference between technical skills and soft skills? In engineering, it’s crucial to demonstrate knowledge of physics as well as a strong grasp on mathematical equations. Yet, in any industry, it’s important for leaders to be able to interact with other people effectively with soft skills like communication, empathy and adaptability. 

Business Linked Team’s 2018 study into internal leadership development revealed that 69% of large organisations are prioritising the identification and development of future leaders from within the workforce. As more and more organisations begin to invest in sales or leadership development within their existing workforces, more focus needs to be placed on ensuring the right soft skills are in place. 

With those soft skills in place throughout the workforce, the business will benefit from a wider pool of potential leaders developing under their noses, and it should be the same where sales candidates are concerned. 

It’s not just about easier access to ideal candidates for these positions without the rigmarole of recruiting from outside of the organisation. The leadership development study also found that 89% of HR decision makers say succession planning has become a top priority. Those currently serving in leadership positions can’t lead forever and the same goes for those generating sales for the business.

Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

From people leaving for new opportunities or retirement, to people simply stepping aside to focus on other areas of the business, successful leaders and salespeople require experienced and capable successors that will be ready and able to confidently step into their shoes and pick up the mantle without the business experiencing any lapse in performance.

Soft skills make stronger candidates

When it comes to the soft skills required, a strong leader must be able to manage through clear communication and effective time management, coaching and goal setting. They must be able to demonstrate empathy and empower their teams to be successful, productive and fully engaged. And beyond simply giving direction, they must also be able to take direction from those above them and cascade the business strategy down through their teams. 

A strong sales candidate must possess the ability to communicate value to the customer, negotiate well and protect margin or the ability to increase the scope of a particular sales opportunity. 

With the relevant soft skills in place, the business will benefit from increased productivity, greater agility against changing market conditions and greater transparency. In turn, this will provide visibility on issues and inefficiencies while removing opportunity for miscommunication. All of this can transform the culture of a department, improving employee satisfaction and reducing staff turnover. 

Ultimately, developing leadership or sales candidates will require the business to strike the right balance between technical skills and soft skills, and this requires an effective and sustained learning journey.

A balanced learning journey

Facilitating and supporting the development of leadership and sales is best achieved by establishing training groups. By cultivating training groups, businesses are creating talent pools that will inspire and support each other on the learning journey. However, personal goals and learning objectives must be defined for each individual based on their own existing skillsets and the skills that each individual needs to develop. 

With the emergence of e-learning, businesses recognise the value of online-based learning activities, yet many make the mistake of opting for one-size-fits-all solutions which are solely focused on self-study. A development solution will only deliver true return on investment if it combines e-learning activities with group learning activities that provide opportunity for shared experiences and support.

A blended learning solution that combines self-study and face-to-face group learning activities will aid strong development of the talent pool through shared experiences. Through these shared experiences, those undergoing the training will organically develop a support network that supports the development of the group as much as it supports the development of each individual. 

The blended learning approach is supported by one of the seven principles of human learning that socially supported interactions aid the individual development of expertise, metacognitive skills, and formation of the learner’s sense of self. The strongest opportunities for development can be unlocked by blending workshops with online activities such as virtual sessions, peer coaching, self-study, online games and business simulations. But it’s crucial to provide a blend of one-to-one and group sessions too.

Beyond delivering a better learning outcome for the employee, the blended learning approach allows organisations to adapt their training quickly and easily to shifting business demands in an ever-changing landscape.