Leadership consultant Joanne Sujansky is a baby boomer. Her three children belong to Generation Y — also known as the millennials. She has experienced the culture clash between the age groups and how it can affect a business. • Her assessment is the topic of Keeping the Millennials: Why Companies Are Losing Billions in Turnover to This Generation and What to Do About It. • Published this month in hardback by John Wiley & Sons, the book is co-authored by Jan Ferri-Reed, president of KeyGroup, the Upper St. Clair, Pa., training and consulting firm Sujansky founded almost 30 years ago. • The book concludes that the millennials are largely disappointed with the workplace, while many boomers think millennials have too many demands. The stress between the two results in talented young employees leaving jobs within a year or two and costing companies big investments in training and turnover.
Sujansky was inspired to address how to keep millennials committed to employers after hearing stories about their frustrations.
"It's very expensive to lose millennials as quickly as we do. Our surveys inside and outside the U.S. showed some were leaving companies as early as 18 months after hiring. They go through that first evaluation, do a few more things, and they're ready to go."
Some background on millennials: Sujansky defines them as born between 1980 and 1999 and raised by baby boomers. They are tech-savvy and well-educated, but don't think a serious work ethic should rule out a life outside the office.
That's in contrast to baby boomers — many have made their careers a priority and, in the process, often put family and other commitments on the back burner, said Sujansky.
"Millennials remember their moms or dads missing the recital or someone missing the soccer game. They don't want that."
So, it's not surprising that many millennials want to leave the office at 3 p.m. if they've completed their work for the day and perhaps work 12 hours the next day. "Some boomers don't trust millennials to do that," she said.
Millennials complain that some boomer managers in job interviews fail to describe the workplace as it really operates.
"One millennial told me that when he met the chief executive, the CEO was in casual clothes and was going to play tennis and talked about a place that was really caring about employees and a balance between work and home life. When the millennial got there, it was not what the CEO said it was."
Boomers are bothered, Sujansky said, when millennials ask for promotions too early in their careers, or when they skirt the traditional chain of command and take their suggestions to the top of the organization.
Among her suggestions to retain millennials is "on-boarding" — programs that provide new employees with a year-long immersion in different segments of the business.
Also, companies can offer on-site perks such as game tables and fitness facilities, and help create a "cool" atmosphere that will attract millennials, Sujansky said.
Millennials don't feel obliged to stay in a job they don't like if they can live with their parents until the next one comes along, she said. Maybe it's because, "We as baby boomers told them they can do anything."