Are you prepared to lose 50% of your millennial workforce?

Did you know that on average it costs 30% of an annual salary in South Africa to replace an entry level person?(Source: Forbes)

It’s statistics like these that can give any talent management professional shivers up the spine because we know the importance and value of employee satisfaction and retention on overall business productivity and performance.

Many South African companies make the mistake of skewing human resource practices towards the management of people but mistakenly ignore talent management. While South Africa is not unique, we need to sit back, reflect, and set critical talent management measures. In this article, I will explain why it is important to manage talent for the future and what you need to prioritise today to start doing this successfully.

There is no longer one or two, but rather three talent management dimensions to look at
Today, any established South African company can have a workforce consisting of up to three generations – Generation X, Generation Y (Millennials), and Generation Z.

In short, Generation X is a group of individuals born between 1962 and 1979. They are at an age where they are moving into senior management positions and would prefer matching benefits, job security and opportunities for work-life balance. In contrast, Generation Y, also known as Millennials (born between 1980 and 1994), view the work they do as a personal expression and have a desire to understand how their efforts fit within the big picture of a company. These individuals hold a global perspective and easily accept diversity, actively seeking flexible working arrangements, paid time off and complete control over their schedule. Generation Z consists of people who were born in 1995 or later.

HR practitioners will mainly interact with two different talent pools – Generation X and Generation Y, as Generation Z may still be completing their studies or only beginning to enter the job market.

Gaining and retaining talent will help you deliver incremental people ROI
According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey, 43% of millennials envision leaving their jobs within two years, while only 28% seek to stay beyond five years. Generation X employees also tend to change jobs every three to five years (Source: Entrepreneur Magazine).

Sourcing and keeping talent onboard is, therefore, crucial for HR professionals. Without a talent management strategy on how to deal with a multi-generational workforce, businesses can’t expect to deliver a people-driven formula to measure ROI. The main reason is that employees of all age groups perform better when they are trained and mentored; excellence can only be achieved through constant improvement. Learning and development should, therefore, always be a priority. Having cost-efficient, in-house programmes to train and deploy talent without loss of time can be highly beneficial to a business.

Aside from effective talent management, these initiatives also provide an excellent opportunity to foster tolerance and acceptance of people from different backgrounds. Furthermore, giving priority to management and leadership training ensures that line managers can effectively lead their teams. This is why talent management should be seen as a vital tool to ensure the maximum efficiency of any business and its employees’ talents.

The challenge lies in the fact that companies can compromise the needs of various generations, each of whom has different priorities, goals, and motivations. Managing the expectations of these different groups is critical, as a one-size-fits-all approach will no longer attract and retain talent.