Jive studies millennials' work expectations

Graphic detailing millennials' workplace expectations.

Utah’s technologically skilled labor force shortage is no secret, but one study recently unveiled a few secrets to retaining those high-value workers once hired.

According to a study recently commissioned by Jive Communications in Orem, a few keys to recruiting and retaining millennial workers today include: flexible working hours, options to work remotely, speedy technology, and a solid company culture. The study surveyed 2,000 millennials, asking them questions about their workplace requirements, and why they leave. According to the results, the biggest reason millennials leave their jobs is because they don’t like the atmosphere of the office.

The research showed that 37 percent of millennials said having a job with flexible hours is “essential,” with a quarter of those reporting that they left their job because they could not work flexibly. The ability to work remotely was also important — 63 percent said they might not be interested in a future job if it did not offer remote working. In addition, 64 percent of millennials said they would leave a job if it was difficult to take sick or personal days.

John Pope, Jive CEO, said they commissioned the study because Jive definitely “has a workforce that skews younger” with the majority being millennials. Jive leadership wanted to better understand what their employees wanted. In addition, since their product — cloud-based business telecommunication — appeals to the values of the younger generation, this data helps Jive cater to those needs as well.

“People value flexibility, and the ability to work remotely — not just at a home office, but on the go. For us, this validated the idea that we as an industry need to continue to broaden our product for on-the-go work,” Pope said.

The data validated many other assumptions, Pope said, including the shift occurring in the workplace where the younger generation values experiences over things. This also ties into the millennials’ desire for a harmony of professional life and personal life. Whereas previous generations separated these facets — working to earn money to support their personal life — Pope sees workers thrive when they can be their authentic selves in all aspects of their lives.

Pope did find some of the specific data a bit surprising, and it will serve as food for thought for Jive leaders — especially in the differences between gender values. For example, more men valued being friends with coworkers and their boss than females did. Conversely, career progression and the work atmosphere and culture were high priorities for women.

The study confirmed another aspect of younger workers: they aren’t prone to stay with one job for their entire career. In fact, the study showed that the average millennial has already had three jobs, with the majority of them starting to look for another job before they hit the three-year mark. A surprising number, 24 percent, are only at a job for six months to a year before they start looking for another job. Another 30 percent start looking for a new position between a year and 18 months.

Chase Harrington, president and chief operating officer of Entrata, said the workplace has definitely changed. He likened the workplace in prior generations to a tenure-based escalator — where workers were accustomed to move up within an organization as they aged. Millennials are not content with this, but have a “strong desire to be engaged, to have challenges, to be pushed,” he said.

To increase employee satisfaction and tenure within Entrata, Harrington said they created the Leadership Development Program, which allows for advanced education and mentorship for leadership positions within the company. The program gives Entrata workers the opportunity to stretch beyond their main job — whether it be moving up in the business, managing a committee within the company culture, or working on projects that land outside their regular duties. The program also is one of the many ways Entrata assures employees they are valued and involved in the company’s progress.

“It allows millennials to be engaged, and that is critical. They don’t stay around if they are just another person in a desk,” Harrington said. “We’ve seen it working, seen tenure within our employees increase. The combined efforts of values, culture, work life balance, the working environment they have with their peers, and technology all work together.”

Harrington said one of the biggest challenges in retaining today’s employees is tapping into the perks they want. It is an evolving process, something his team analyzes on a regular basis. It would seem frustrating to constantly be finding ways to satisfy employees’ needs, but Harrington said the change keeps companies honest, and continually improving.

“It’s worth it. I see so many benefits — better work productivity, longer tenure — if that’s what I need to do as a leader to get results, that’s important,” he said.

Pope seems to agree.

“The idea of what work should be has changed. Team members care about more than just a paycheck. They like a welcoming, understanding office atmosphere, and they want to work for a company that believes in them,” he said.

Karissa Neely reports on Business and North County events, and can be reached at 801-344-2537 or kneely@heraldextra.com. Follow her on Twitter: @DHKarissaNeely

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