Engaging the millennials and managing your staff turnover rate

Ahead of Information Age’s Tech Leaders Summit, we spoke to premium sponsors, Eko, about the impact of the millennial and why it’s important to engage this generation.

High staff turnover rates: why?

“In the frontline work environment, the staff turnover rate is really high,” explained Robert Darling, chief commercial officer at Eko.

“Traditionally,” he continued, “when you look at average industries, the annual staff turnover rate is between 10% and 15%. But, when you look at the frontline environment in hospitality, and similar industries, it’s not uncommon for companies to have annual turnover rates of over 100% — we have one client we work with right now and its turnover rate is 120% a year.”

The millennial impact is a key component of this high staff turnover rate. What’s happening is that the millennial generation is coming into the workforce and they have very high expectations of what a modern-day worker does. They come in as very digitally savvy, “they don’t use email, they use essentially WhatsApp and messaging on their phone for almost everything,” said Darling. The problem, as a result, is when they come into these frontline environments, there is no digital equivalent of that in the workplace, sometimes they get emails, sometimes they don’t get anything. There is no digital connectivity between them and the organisation.

Operationally, the tech savvy millennials, are open to things like paper-based checklists, but it’s very backward experience of what they’re used to interacting outside of work — this is a big turn-off for millennials. Their digital expectations, simply, are not being met. “It’s very old-fashioned for them and that’s a key contributor to that turnover rate,” explained Darling.

This lack of digital synergy means that companies have a really hard time of holding on to the next generation workforce; they’re are not modern enough to meet these digital expectations.

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Cost challenge

A high staff turnover rate is naturally very costly. Even though the millennials in the frontline of the hospitality industry, for example, are at the lower end of the pay scale, it still will cost the company quite a lot.

The cost to replace one of these individuals could be as much as £12,000, according to Accounts and Legal. “This includes recruiting, interviewing, training and productivity loss. That’s a lot of money for just one person even if they’re at the lower end of the pay scale, especially when you have a lot of people like that,” said Darling.

There are real fundamental cost implications for a company looking to hire a millennial workforce, while retaining them.

Meeting digital expectations

There are four main areas that companies can improve to retain their millennial workforce, by meeting their digital expectations.

1. Communication

The lack of communication and the lack of engagement is a major factor in the high staff turnover rates of frontline work environments. “What we generally find is that only about 20% of the frontline staff think they get the right level of openness and communication from their managers — so, fixing the communication problem is key,” advised Darling.

2. Operations

Statistics show only around 30% of frontline staff get “the modern, digitally-enabled operational support that they need — there’s a big lack of tools and operational enablement for frontline staff,” he said.

3. Training

“What we find is a really big desire of staff in the frontline environment to access training, e-learning for example, and have the opportunity to gain more skills and progress in their role,” continued Darling.

4. Flexibility

And the final area is flexibility: “We have an economy where frontline staff, millennials, are forced to come in, but they want the flexibility and have a better type of work/life balance.”

These are the four big areas that need to be addressed to help engage the millennials. “Ultimately, how we build our product and the features that we have help CIOs in these areas to deal with their staff problems,” said Darling.

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Culture change, just as much as tech

A culture change is needed just as much as a tech change to engage millennials and manage excessively high staff turnover rates.

Darling thinks it needs to be 50/50 — after finding a tech solution that works for your organisation, the other half needs to be focused on cultural change or the whole change management process in general.

He said: “When we go to clients, we come with the tools and the technology, but we also come with the experience and wherever we deploy our products, all of our clients get access to our change management team, our customer success team. That team will review your business to understand the culture, to understand your processes and your operations and will actually work with you to put together a change management plan — this is equally important as having the tool itself.”

Tech and culture go hand in hand. But, change is never easy. Organisations can’t just put a tool out there without a very solid digital transformation project and the complete backing of every employee.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.

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