November 2021 was a record-setting month in the United States, as 4.5 million workers resigned from their jobs — more than twice the 2 million from the same month a decade earlier in 2011.
That was the peak of what has been called “The Great Resignation.” Much of the significant increase was certainly pandemic-related, and employees and employers continue to navigate issues like remote work, hybrid schedules and vaccine mandates. But there are also significant differences in what Millennials and Gen Z workers desire from work than previous generations.
To succeed today and in the future, employers must seek to understand how to attract and retain these younger workers. One key is to assess your company’s employee value proposition (EVP).
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, “An EVP is part of an employer’s branding strategy that represents everything of value that the employer has to offer its employees. Items such as pay, benefits and career development are common, but employers also highlight offerings that are currently in demand — like technology, remote work and flexible scheduling.”
I would also add to the list of employment offerings currently in demand the idea that today’s younger employees want to feel personally invested in their work and want to work for companies that share their values and beliefs.
So, what practical actions can your organization take to attract and retain the best of the best employees – particularly younger recruits? According to a recent article by Michelle Mahony in Harvard Business Review, there are five keys, restated below with my thoughts on each:
Develop an EVP that is holistically linked to your organization’s purpose or mission. That may require a top-down review of your company’s mission statement. I imagine a few company leaders thinking, “Why do I have to review or refresh my company mission statement to be more attractive to younger workers?” I can only answer that you don’t have to; just be aware that today’s younger employees are also today’s younger consumers. If you’re failing to connect to Millennial and Gen-Z recruits, your company may eventually fail to connect to the same people as customers.
Foster a company culture of belonging, flexibility and growth. Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and because we spend more time at work than anywhere else, it is incredibly important that your staff feels that they belong within your company’s culture. They also put more value on workplace flexibility that allows them to find a healthy work-life balance while being given opportunities for career growth and advancement.
Get your current employees involved in developing and reviewing your EVP. That isn’t just a great way to ensure your messaging to recruits is compelling and appropriate but also a great way to engage and improve retention of your current workforce.
Make sure your EVP is authentic and connects. Today’s employees seek to be part of organizations that care about social causes and are willing to take action toward those causes, including providing opportunities for employees to engage. Some good examples include providing options for recycling in breakrooms, organizing “on-the-clock” opportunities for employees to volunteer and making corporate contributions to worthy charities.
Ensure that the actual experience an employee will have working for your company is anchored in reality. As Mahony states, “Anything you say to the world will be meaningless if your internal environment and actions don’t support it” It doesn’t take long for your staff to know if their employer is just talking the talk and not walking the walk, so don’t project a company image that isn’t authentic.
Ben Carroll is a human resources manager for Arvest Bank in Benton County. The opinions expressed are those of the author.