Millennial Think Tank: Employer/Employee Loyalty Today

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This month we are tackling Employer / Employee Loyalty and what it looks like in today’s workplace from our Millennial panelists’ perspective.

To frame the discussion, we highlighted these statistics gathered on

  • $11 billion is lost annually due to employee turnover (Bloomberg BNA)
  • Companies that increase their number of talented managers and double the rate of engaged employees achieve, on average, 147% higher earnings  than their competition
  • Each year the average company loses 20-50% of its employee base (Bain & Company) (Commonly cited statistic, source link unfound)
  • Customer retention rates are 18% higher on average when employees are highly engaged
  • 9% of US workers are engaged with their employers
  • The average American worker stays at their position for 4.5 years.


Our panel included:


Primary Insights:

What makes you feel loyal to an employer?

Our panel had an interesting array of feedback; one thing that was really notable is HOW MANY jobs our Millennials have had. Daniel, who is only 24, has had 14 jobs (he started at 14). Here are the insights condensed:

  • The panelists certainly don’t expect to stay at a job for more than 3 years; the longest any of them has stayed anywhere is 5 years.
  • Feeling part of a team begets loyalty; when upper management includes you in the global vision and goals and milestones for where you’re headed, they make you feel part of their team.
  • Jobs that provide education and opportunity, where the employer invests in the employee, are more likely to keep our panelists for the longer term.
  • Staying at one job forever is not part of any of our panelist’s plan; they have all embraced the new way of working when it comes to length of time on a job.
  • Participation in creating your goals and strategy has a huge impact on loyalty; our panel set a very high benchmark for themselves.
  • Daniel, who works at SAP where it is clear his company invests in him spoke about how much his job was part of his identity.

Joe thinks loyalty to “a company” is almost nonexistent, but that loyalty to people you work with is key. He said:

“If a company is not interested in my growth and development I just can’t imagine staying. There needs to be a challenge and a path to grow and develop. That matters a lot more than high-minded vision.”

What would you do to foster loyalty if you were running the show?

We asked our panel what changes THEY would make if they were in charge. Here’s what we got:

  • Promote loyalty within work teams, as loyalty to colleagues will inspire and retain employees.ZigZiglar
  • Provide evidence of management’s trust; this includes being transparent about a company’s overarching goals and planning, AND where the company is actually at.
  • Remembering to be human; allowing work colleagues a window into who you are as a whole person makes them open up themselves.
  • Making sure you know what they need, including for non-work related issues. Taking time to work alongside them periodically “in the trenches” helps you understand what the real needs and challenges are.
  • Making sure that all employees participate in setting their own goals.
  • Ensuring that silos don’t develop.

 What Kills Loyalty?

  • Lack of direction not only within your own career but from leadership. Do the C Suite have a vision? Is it believable?
  • Lack of management.
  • Inconsistency in direction from a manager.
  • Having to “walk on eggshells” for fear or repercussions from management.
  • Managers who don’t understand the current work climate. Samantha summed this up with:

“Managers need to understand that we’re not going to be here forever. This is what I’m giving you, I’m being honest and you need to not pretend that I’m going to be here forever. Some managers haven’t caught up with exactly what is going on in the workplace.”

  • What we heard repeatedly is that the single killer of loyalty is micromanagement. The quote of the evening came from Joe Cardillo:

“Micro-fucking-management. If that happens, I’m out.”


It is clear that all of our panelists understand the new work climate; no job is forever, and your career is unlikely to feature long tenures at any one company. This makes building loyalty a much more tricky thing for employers. Albert Qian who spent much of his career in Silicon Valley, summed up what many of our Millennials think:

“I don’t have a lot of loyalty to any one company – I’m expendable in CA, an at will state. I need to treat my employer with the same level of expendability that they treat me. That is just the paradigm of the new economy, and it’s why Albert’s List exists… it’s the other place I’m building. It may sound cynical, but that is how I see the world from the bottom of the well in which I sit.”


Listen to the full hangout on either podcast or video below:

photo credit: May 02, 2013 at 04:22PM via photopin (license)

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