Knowledge Transfer: Mentoring Millennials

Every day, 10,000 Baby Boomers reach retirement age, and roughly half the generation still has yet to hit this milestone. Furthermore, the population of younger workers with the education and skills to replace Boomers isn't large enough or growing fast enough to make up for the exodus. A comprehensive succession plan should strategically drive business hiring practices to attract the best potential fit from the available talent pool. Adopting a responsible philosophy will move your organization beyond preventing brain drain and toward a culture of ongoing knowledge expansion.

Millennial Succession for Success

You should start by engaging your Baby Boomers to find out which employee characteristics they believe are necessary to excel. Once you get past any grumblings about “kids these days” or “they have to pay their dues,” spend time listening for the essential qualities, attributes, and skill sets they’ve honed over their years of experience. Use these conversations to craft job postings, keywords, and interview questions that will seek out people with the budding capabilities to embody those traits. It will be your Boomers who are tasked with training your new hires after all, so they will appreciate working with people who share their values.

Once you have recruited the right young professionals, a recurring frustration is often high turnover among Millennials. Many organizations are reluctant to invest time in mentorship programs with the risk of new hires jumping ship anyway. But the thing is, this can be one of the greatest benefits for a company embracing a culture of succession planning—71% of Millennials who plan to leave their employer in the next two years are unhappy with how their leadership skills are being developed. Organizations that implement a comprehensive succession plan send the message that they are genuinely committed to developing their people, and the cherry on top is better retaining Boomer knowledge and Millennial employees.

The oldest Millennials are turning 39 in 2019, and over a quarter of Millennials are in senior positions. That being said, this generation came of age in an era of constant upgrades. Millennial managers who have not received a promotion resign at a rate 5.2 percentage points higher than average, while those who have been promoted in the past 24 months have a resignation rate 3.1 percentage points lower than average. While it may not be realistic to give each employee a promotion every two years, it is realistic to have programs that are continually upgrading their skills and abilities through knowledge transfer. If your strategies helped you find the best fit for the job and retained them for a longer career path, wouldn’t it be worth it?