Are you still asking employees “Where do you see yourself in five years?” when they come to an interview? Are you disgruntled when their response suggests they may leave your company for new pastures?
There’s no doubt that the way people work has changed due partly to the prevailing attitudes and characteristics of Millennials in the workforce. Employees no longer work traditional hours, and they are demanding more control over their daily working lives and career paths.
The boundaryless career
In today’s workplaces, many employees are looking for freedom, varied experiences and the chance to pick up skills along the way. They move from company to company building their careers as they go and many do not stay in a role for any longer than two years. Today's employees no longer look to one employer to provide them with a solid career path; they want to forge their own path, on their own terms.
Arthur and Rosseau introduced the boundaryless career concept in 1996 but only in the last few years have we seen it become a widespread occurrence in the workplace.
“Boundaryless careers are occupational paths that are not bounded within specific organizations but grow through project-based competency development across firms in an industry network.” Michael Arthur and Denise Rosseau
Nurture freedom – even if it feels painful
While we can’t guarantee that someone will stay in an organization for the long haul, we can nurture him or her while they stay and prepare them for their future roles.
It may seem futile to prepare someone for a future without you, particularly if you have invested in his or her management or leadership skills and they are currently in a junior position, but there are three pressing reasons why this is a good idea:
1. Your employees are your brand
Your employees know your organization inside and out and when they leave they are advocates of your brand. If you treat your employees well, ensuring they feel recognized for good work and have consistent opportunities to develop, they will become positive promoters of your company. If they leave on bad terms, they could deter future employees and customers from your organization.
2. Boomerangers are rife
Boomerang employees are those that move to another organization only to return months or even years later because they had a positive experience in their first employment and wanted to embrace the experience once more. Boomerang employees bring honed skills and knowledge, and they are often inspired brand advocates.
3. You need their skills
When an employee is hired, their skills are in demand. Although they may not be with you for the long haul, if you treat them well this improves the likelihood that they will not only perform better, but they might even stay with your organization for longer.
Giving employees regular rewards and recognition for positive behaviors and good work, and creating a mobile workforce that keeps people connected despite geography, and aware of accomplishments throughout the organization will keep them motivated and proud to be a part of a culture that recognizes success, loyalty and effort. If their experience is very positive, they may also decide to stay!
The workforce has changed and with it so has how we need to support and nurture our employees. By meeting the needs of your employees you are helping to grow the loyalty they have to your organization, and, therefore, your positive brand presence, and increasing the potential that they will return to your organization, with improved skills and wisdom, in the future.