• Relocating Millennials – What’s a company to do?


    Yes, much has been written about Generation Y, or Millennials. Love ’em or hate ’em, they are set to soon become Canada’s largest working age group. This cohort (aged 23 to 38 in 2019) makes up almost 28% of Canadians and approximately 40% of the country’s pool of workers (15 to 65 years old) as of the last census.

    As most companies know, this generally hard-working ambitious group of highly educated, diverse employees has much to offer in addition to their energy and vitality, but their expectations of the workplace are very different than those of previous generations.

    In terms of employee mobility, the benefits of relocating a current employee rather than hiring someone new (retention, familiarity in working culture and style, demonstrated experience, etc.) continue to apply, but with Millennials, you just have to go about obtaining them differently.

    We’ve often heard that a major reason why Millennials are less likely to be considered for relocations is their lack of company loyalty. However, as the “go to” employees (Baby Boomers and Gen X) age and become smaller in number, companies will have no choice but to turn to the Gen Y group. So, what’s a company to do? The answer is simple, make it worth their while. The opportunity has to reflect what they want or feel they need.

    According to the Harvard Business Review, Generation Y is primarily looking for opportunities for job mobility, additional training and development, flexible working schedules, progressive outlooks towards workplace management and hierarchy, and a workplace that allows them to indulge their career passions.

    In dealing with Millennials, the relocation opportunity has to be presented as a positive step in their career development and the company has to be prepared to tailor the experience to their expectations. As “late starters” (stayed in school longer, or returned, married later, etc.) they are in catch-up mode; they don’t want to waste their time doing something that is primarily beneficial to the company. If they feel they aren’t getting what they need, they are much more likely to resign than employees from other generations. Of course, different personalities mean that these generalizations are truer for some than for others.

    More flexibility is what’s needed.

    The relocation itself is an important element in the success of an assignment or a posting, and a Core/Flex program is ideal for this cohort. The Core portion provides a number of services and benefits supporting a reasonably unencumbered relocation. The Flex portion offers the transferee a budget and access to a menu of additional benefits or services to meet their needs. The cost of this flexibility is managed by the reassignment of unused credits or funds to the cost of the benefits chosen. These programs have existed for some time and companies already using this approach may find that a few tweaks will be needed to give millennials more creativity in the use of the flex budget (e.g., enhanced spousal support, additional travel perks, or training credits).

    It is also important to keep in mind that this group was born “digital”; they are used to having choices, figuring things out with a few clicks and obtaining what they want quickly. In addition to more flexible policies, they expect up-to-date technology that allows them to click their way through the relocation process.

    There is no doubt that Millennials have much to offer but they can be a retention as well as a relocation challenge. Companies who haven’t already adapted, will be forced to do so very soon. Fortunately, there are ways to implement change without giving up on cost management. Not sure about the eye rolls though (written by a Baby Boomer and parent of Millennials).