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3 Ways to Solve the #1 Workforce Retention Issue for Young Professionals

We’re welcoming back our guest blog series, and this week, we’re joined by YoPro Know friend, JD Solomon, who wrote this great piece on 3 ways to solve the workforce retention issue for young professionals. He is the Owner of J.D. Solomon, Inc. and Founder of Communicating With FINESSE. 


The Current State of Young Professionals Today report tells us what motivates young professionals. What really stands out to me is the #1 workforce retention issue related to young professionals. On its surface, the issue seems fundamentally straightforward. But like all big issues, workforce retention of young professionals has many interrelated parts and complexities.


The Research

The YoPro Know determined young professionals’ goals, struggles, and successes in more than 35 US states and over 65 industries.

The information is both enlightening and shocking. For example, the cost of young professional turnover to US companies yearly is approximately $30.5 billion. Yet, 96% of businesses have seen measurable success by moving to digital approaches for recruiting and retaining young professionals. The workforce is rapidly changing, and our approaches to effective communication must also change.


The Workforce Issue

Young professionals reported the #1 reason for leaving a job is top-down communication and misaligned expectations. Experienced professionals embrace face-to-face communication and other traditional forms like email. Young professionals communicate through technology first, including texts and emerging social media platforms.

To compound this issue, most executive managers tell me that less than half of their direct reports are good communicators. Yet, executive managers trust those less-than-optimal communicators to teach young professionals communication skills and inspire them about their organization. This tells me that a better approach is needed.


Interactive, Two-Way Communication

Every executive wants interactive, two-way communication. The trouble is that good one-way communication must be in place first. Most middle managers do not have the skills to transmit clear, concise messages to young professionals.

The second challenge for interactive communication is that there must be compatible knowledge between the participants, and there must be open feedback loops. Young professionals do not have compatible knowledge with their experienced counterparts. Experienced professionals also hold power over the amount, timing, and types of communication channels.

So, what can we do about improving the communication skills of middle managers?


Three Solutions

1. Educational Training Workshops

A solid first step is to transfer knowledge between the different generations in the workforce. Again, compatible knowledge must be present among the parties as a starting point for interactive communication. Good starting points are understanding basic communication processes and the communication preferences of each generation.


2. Organizational Assessment

Most organizations and their middle managers are inadvertently doing things to turn off young professionals. The assessment should include a review of formal policies, practices, and culture. The assessment should also include a review of information technologies and social media since most young professionals prefer to use technology-based solutions as their primary form of communication.


3. Communication and Facilitation Training

Most middle managers are missing formal communication approaches. Even fewer middle managers have specific approaches for communicating big decisions, routine decisions, and daily operations. The goal is to have multiple approaches available for different situations and enough training to make their application intuitive.

Training in formal communication approaches with young professionals will also improve them as they roll into management positions. The organization benefits in the long term.


Moving Forward

Young professionals reported the #1 reason for leaving a job is top-down communication and misaligned expectations. Most experienced managers do not have the communication skills that are needed to close the gap. Establishing compatible knowledge about the different generations, performing a gap assessment on unintentional company barriers, and formal communication training for experienced and young professionals are three ways to enhance the retention of your next generation of leaders.


To connect with JD, visit his LinkedIn profile here.

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