If people can make or break a company, doesn’t it make sense to invest in Millennials who will very soon make up over 50% of your employees?
Attracting talent ain’t what it used to be. Millennials want different things from employers compared with the generations before them. They value things like flexibility, a good work climate, and flat organisational structures. Traditional chart toppers like a good salary and job security are far less important to Millennials. Fun and being happy at work also matter for this generation. Having fun while working, though, is an important factor that older generations can probably also get on board with.
Fun and happiness require investments
Companies need to take this change in values seriously. By 2020 Millennials will make up roughly 50% of the US workforce and the German workforce is in a demographic vice grip with an increasing number of retirees on one side and a shrinking pool of younger talents on the other.
Attracting talented Millennials requires focus and investment. Companies need to invest in training, development programmes, physical work environments like flexible office concepts and creative spaces, international assignments, health programmes – the list goes on. It also requires investment in leadership development. The traditional control and command style of the past will not work in an environment where people want transparency, teamwork and networking.
The rate of return of fun and happiness
These investments can easily be viewed as big fat negative numbers on a profit and loss statement. Quantitative rates of returns on such investments are not easily calculated as we’re talking about human well-being and satisfaction. Not exactly a CFO’s dream scenario, but could it be that these investments actually make business sense?
You’ve heard it a million times before: “People are a company’s most valuable asset.” Even though it is a cliché, it is true. People can make or break a company. Doesn’t it then make perfect sense to invest in the people who will very soon make up over 50% of your employees? By ensuring that people enjoy their work, feel fulfilled, feel inspired and get developed, they will perform better. They will offer their creativity and passion. They will innovate and examine new perspectives. They will force you to change and reinvent yourself (I forgot to mention, Millennials need permanent change). They will constantly ask “what if?” which is exactly what every business needs to improve their services and products, and make a difference. This is what will bring growth, increased market shares and profits. That’s the real return of investing in fun and happiness.
Sustainable happiness takes time
The trick is to think long term. These are not measures that will bring real gains in the short term. Long term is not exactly something that shareholders and financial markets appreciate, but it simply makes sense. We will have to shift our thinking to long term corporate commitments to create real and sustainable growth – not only for the shareholders, but for society as well.
Stephan has a deep background in finance, business, and commercial operations from the private sector. He has been the CFO for HARTMANN GROUP since 2009, but is also responsible for Human Resources, Business Development, Investor Relations, Internal Auditing and Risk Management.