Recent Gallup research has shown us that 71% of millennials say they are not emotionally (and behaviorally) connected to their job or to the company.
There has been a definite shift in corporate loyalty—and it continues to shift daily. Most millennials are thinking of moving onto their next position and are not staying to build long-term careers with the companies where they are currently. It is putting an enormous burden on organizations to figure out methods that can be implemented to retain this generation of employees and build loyalty within their existing business model.
This is a generation that insists on being congruent—with their self-image and personal values system, and with the values and brand image of the companies they work for. Millennials have proven to be philanthropic in nature, and are concerned about people and the environment. They want to be sure that their work has meaning and purpose—optimally seeking employment where their work can “give back.” Finding harmony between their organization’s values and mission and what they would like to be is paramount.
When this congruency cannot be found, you see an unmistakable erosion of loyalty. This generation wants to clearly see the impact of their role and the tasks/projects for which they are responsible.
An Interconnection: Finding Congruence
There is a solution: It centers around an interconnection of vision, mission and values—congruence. Organizations need to develop a focal point around this triumvirate for developing pride and loyalty. Millennials want to work for companies that are making a difference. In both their employment and buying patterns, we find that they will only support organizations that are making a better world.
From their debut into the workforce, this generation has demanded a few things:
- A future vision—and the ability to see the role they can play in making a difference.
- Transparent communication within the workplace—from the top down, and particularly from their immediate managers. This is a group that is highly sensitized—and perceptively good—at reading between the lines. They do not tolerate inconsistency.
- The need to be heard and respected for their ideas and new approaches. They want to exercise creativity and innovation. If not allowed to do so, they will leave the organization.
- Millennials want to be unmanaged and allowed the freedom to use their judgments. They want to feel that they are special, and part of a larger goal that is special in its own right.
- This generation craves a deep connection to the values of the organization they have selected to work for. They need to feel that those values are substantiated with actions that support them. Actions speak louder than words to them.
Meaning and purpose are incredibly important to these employees: work and ideals that align with their beliefs and a culture that validates what they are doing. 87% of millennials say they are seeking something greater than themselves (Harvard Business Review). This is a dramatic shift from prior generations.
Millennials: Success in Congruent Branding
Her startup, Verge Genomics, is the latest in a long line of biotechs that believe merging computer science and decoding of the human genetic code could provide incredible pharmaceutical solutions. What’s special about Verge: Zhang has the guts to target Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s—areas most drug companies abandon, as nearly 90% of medicines that start human trials fail.
“The biggest challenge is making connections to these big pharma players… We believe that we have the science down, and we believe in the drugs we’re discovering.” Already, Zhang has put together an incredible starting team, including Alzheimer’s luminary Paul Aisen and Harvard Biotech guru George Church.
Yes, that Jessica Alba. Starting as an actress in her younger teens, Alba rose to stardom. She left Hollywood and the film industry in 2013, fed up with sexism and the consumerism of generations older than her own. She founded The Honest Company—an organization dedicated to ethical and nontoxic products. Inspired by the birth of her first child (and her own childhood illness), Alba set out to create a company with an alternative to the prevalent baby products with ingredients such as petrochemicals and synthetic fragrances.
While building her company, Alba lobbied the U.S. Congress to make testing of consumer products for chemical inputs more stringent. Today, The Honest Company is now valued at over $1 billion.
Garza was inspired by his family dinner table in Laredo, Texas. His older sister had an autoimmune disorder that forced her to remove all grain from her diet—removing a staple of the Latino meal spread—flour tortillas. The Garza family also made do without to offer moral support, using lettuce leaves for their tacos, fajitas and tostadas.
Miguel and his sister began to experiment with making tortillas from almond flour. They soon found a recipe that was grain-free and, above all, Abuela-approved. Today, their family dinner workaround has blossomed into Siete Family Foods: “We realized that our family was at the core of our business, and we wanted a brand name that was a representative of that.” Siete Family Foods is among the just 2% of Latino-owned businesses doing more than $1 million in revenue each year.
They have recently unveiled a partnership with Whole Foods, and are already expanding their offerings in 2018. “You know Annie’s Homegrown, which does organic traditional American cuisine? We see ourselves as that, but for Mexican food.”
Find a Plan
The result: To build and sustain a loyal millennial workforce, organizations must establish congruence in the workplace. It is not about being the best at something, it is about making a difference. The following quote by author, entrepreneur and millennial Mark Manson best describes this generation: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful. To be honorable. To be compassionate. To have it make some difference that you have lived, and lived well.”
With this in mind, organizations need to reframe their thinking and ensure that they are building a community that employees want to be a part of. They need to establish that their vision, mission and values are well communicated and aligned (congruent) with this generation’s desire to make a difference in this world.
An organization’s vision should explain where the organization wants to be in the future: It is inspirational and exciting. The mission explains how the vision will be achieved. The values are the policies and procedures that the organization will utilize and not compromise to achieve both the mission and vision of the organization. When you have undefined vision, mission and values, you have disengagement and a lack of trust toward your management. Trust means confidence—and confidence is the foundation and framework of the success of any organization. You establish trust with this generation by a congruence of words, deeds and communication, communication and more communication!
Being transparent and honest by clearly, concisely and consistently explaining and referencing the vision, mission and values of your organization—and how each individual helps in achieving them—will keep your younger workforce engaged, motivated and loyal. For this reason, high-trust companies outperform low-trust companies by 300% on average.
Who’s Doing It Right
Your brand is the summation of vision, mission and values—congruence made successful by expertise. Together, they create a brand that everyone can identify with and can see how their individual part contributes to the whole of the organization.
Let’s look at some companies that do this very well:
- Their Vision: “To be the Earth’s most customer centric company.”
- Their Mission: “To strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best selection and the utmost convenience.”
- Their Values:
- Customer Obsession
- Learn and Be Curious
- Hire and Develop the Best
- Insist on the Highest Standards
- Think Big
- Earn Trust
- Dive Deep
- Deliver Results
- Their Internal Brand Congruency: “Work Hard. Have fun. Make History.”
Notice the connection these values have to good leadership practices. Using history as a part of their branding really inspires employees to think big, and use their creativity and innovation to make a difference within the organization. They are continually encouraged to make recommendations for improvement.
And A few Others
Other companies that have made their brands congruent to instill Millennial Loyalty:
- Disney: “Make people happy.”
- Microsoft: “Enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.”
- IBM: “A world we want to live in—a world you’re building.”
These congruent ideals resonate with the millennial generation. Integrating the vision, mission and values of the company into a millennial’s personal goals and values is critical to obtaining their loyalty. With strong congruency, a business can attract top talent and keep that talent loyal. Your workforce will feel as though they are making a difference, and leaving the world a little better than they found it.
Breaking It Down
Although we highlight the importance of a corporate congruence; it is also critical to emphasize departmentalunitteam vision, mission and values. Teams of individuals, no matter the size, need to understand why they exist and the value that they add. We all want to feel important and realize that what we do makes a difference. The millennial generation has brought this to the forefront. If you want to really build loyalty, engage the people on your team to formulate the vision, mission and values—engage and empower them in an exercise or brainstorming session to answer the following questions:
- What is it we believe?
- What difference do we make?
- What is unique about the way we do it?
- What makes us creative and innovative?
- What makes our department/unit stand out?
Participation is key for this generation, so ask and listen. Their ideas will be amazing and WOW you, I promise. The dividends will be enormous.