CRITICAL 60: The Make-or-Break Fundamentals for Ending the “Revolving Door” Cycle

Did you know that more than half of the employees who quit in the first 18 months made that decision in their first 60 days? If you didn’t know that, it is time to consider that it might be your process that is broken and your incentives that are misaligned, rather than a problem with “those darn anti-committal Millennials”. Yes, the times are changing, and in order to succeed, you need to jump on board and change with it.

The good news for you is that there is a better way–and it will likely cost you even less than your current (ineffective) approach. I’ll tell you three key ways to get ahead and take charge of those first 60 days, the “Critical 60”:

  1. Expectation vs. Reality: Align Expectations of New Hires

One of the most basic questions that should be asked of new hires is “What realities are you experiencing in your day-to-day duties that are different than what you expected to be doing?” This simple question gets to the root of a pervasive problem companies across the world experience: new hires don’t love their job, not because it’s not a great job, but because it’s different than what they had anticipated. This problem occurs frequently with young hires straight out of college or in the first few years of their careers.

Picture this: a young man goes into sales because he sees his salesman uncle taking clients golfing and out for swanky dinners. He wants that life too. This young man spends his first few weeks on the job sitting in a cubicle making 500 cold calls a day. He’s not thrilled. So what’s the usual response?  He decides this job isn’t for him, and chooses to quit, not realizing how pivotal those cold calling exercises will be to the rest of his career. More dangerously for you, the employer, he might stick around for another year, biding his time for the right moment to leave.

Asking the question about expectation vs. reality early on positions you to ‘connect the dots’ for the new hire and respond with a growth track that demonstrates the purpose of these fundamental skills and how they will actually help them reach the swanky dinners and golf destinations faster if they focus in and learn the lessons along the way. It’s amazing how far a strong “What’s In It For Me” proposition to your new talent will go in shifting their perspective from monotonous tasks to springboard growth opportunities.  It also ensures that you don’t have a new hire who unbeknownst to you has shifted into autopilot shortly after they’ve stepped in the door.

  1. Incentivize, Incentivize, Incentivize: Offer Incentives Millennials Actually Care About

It shouldn’t be news to anyone who knows a current college student or recent graduate – college is expensive and increasing by the day. Tuition today is roughly 17x what it was in 1970.

Millennials are putting off many of the milestones of previous generations, getting married, having babies, buying houses, in part, because we are forced to prioritize our financial stability before we can afford to take the next leap. So, it only makes sense that employee benefits which made sense to Baby Boomers in their 20’s, like premium health and dental insurance for up to 4 dependents and childcare vouchers, are often irrelevant for young professionals who are still able to use their parents insurance plans, and aren’t getting married and starting families in their early 20’s. These benefits will be important to millennials several years down the road, but as new employees, they don’t provide much appeal.

Similarly, as nice as a 2:1 matching retirement fund sounds, to a generation facing an average of more than $34,000 in student debt and rising rent prices, saving for retirement often feels like a luxury we just can’t afford right now. In a world where I have to choose between not being evicted, not ruining my credit by defaulting on student loans, and saving for some date 30+ years into the future, it’s pretty clear which one of those falls to the bottom.

An alternative approach that includes ‘Student Loan Forgiveness Matching’ is far more effective to a generation shackled with debt burdens. Other things we do care about include commuter benefits, gym vouchers, remote or project-based work hours, and if I’m being honest, baskets of fresh fruit in the office don’t hurt. What employers often fail to recognize is that the benefits we care about are often low cost, but go a long way in developing a ‘sticky’ relationship with millennials like me.

  1. Give Us (and You) a Way Out

In a now infamous move, Tony Hsieh of Zappos created a culture that almost guaranteed the only people in the organization after 60 days were the ones willing to run through walls for the organization.  How did he do this?  He paid the others to quit.

Ingeniously, Hsieh implemented a “pay to quit” scheme in which at the end of new hires’ provisional period, employees are offered a “quitting bonus” equivalent to one month’s pay, enabling them to quit there and then if the job did not meet their expectations. In this scenario, everyone wins. The employee is given an out to escape a job they are not suited to, plus the funds to support themselves while they find a better job. The employers don’t waste their time with staffers who don’t want to be there. They’re left with the employees who are committed to their work and confident that they are in the right organization.

If you’re thinking $3,000-$5,000 may seem like a lot to pay an employee to leave, just remember that estimates of the costs of employee turnover ranges from several tens of thousands of dollars to up to 213% the annual salary of the employee. When you think about it in those terms, a quitting bonus is a steal.

Implementing these three changes will help increase retention and ensure that you staff your organization with hard-working, motivated millennial employees who are committed to the company’s vision. They will help you retain employees who view their job as more than a paycheck, who want to build a long-term partnership with the company and grow the company as the years go by. In millennials you can find the same loyal, hard-working, innovative employees you’ve had with generations past, or even better- you just need to change the tools you use to acquire and keep them.

Paul Moya is a Harvard Multigenerational Expert best known for his role as CEO of Millennial Labs—a global consulting firm focused on segmentation marketing and generational behavior. Paul’s discoveries have impacted leaders in audiences as large as 54,000 and have helped brands such as Visa, Microsoft, General Motors, and the Department of Defense to interpret and act on human behavior in the workplace, marketplace, and voting booth.