I hear this from business leaders all the time: “Why should I spend money training and developing young employees? They’ll just leave in two years. I’m training them for my competitors.”
The problem is getting worse, as coverage in today’s New York Times makes clear. It details the talent raids that hot start-ups like Uber and Airbnb are conducting on established tech companies, especially Google. It describes a 28-year-old software engineer who recently joined a video gaming start-up after five years at Google, where he said he’d been getting one or two emails a day from recruiters.
So why spend money training and developing these flighty, job-hopping Millennials? Because if you don’t, you won’t get them at all. Company recruiters visiting top colleges and business schools say the best prospects want to know their employer will make them even better. That’s one reason many companies are setting up deluxe “[Company Name] University” training facilities.
Getting, developing, and keeping the best people is one of every leader’s most crucial jobs, and you can’t do it the way you used to. Millennials simply cannot conceive of spending a career at one employer. Why on earth would they? The lifelong-employer model ended in their parents’ era, maybe traumatically for them. In addition, today’s employees know their options better than workers have ever known them before. Through sites like glassdoor.com they know what employees at other companies are getting paid and what working there is like. Through social media they’re getting continual anecdotal evidence about other employers around the country and the world. From moment to moment they know where else they could work, how they’d like it, and how much they’d get paid. They don’t wonder if they’re going to leave their job. They just wonder when.
So let’s face it, you can’t keep all your best people, certainly not as many as you used to. But that’s not the issue. The issue is getting better people and keeping more of them than your competitors. Not long ago I asked Honeywell CEO David Cote about that; Barron’s says he’s one of the world’s 30 best CEOs. He recalled visiting his big engineering center in India, where “our attrition rate is about half of what everybody else experiences,” and he asked a group of engineers why they stayed. Was it the company’s social organizations – a cricket club, a band, a glee club? No, the engineers said, everybody does that; it’s kind of an Indian thing.
Instead, it was two things, Cote recalls them saying: “One, we get given a total package of work that we’re responsible for. It’s not a case where we just work all day and then have to check back with somebody in Europe or the U.S. at the end of the day to show what we did.” That is, responsibility and trust. “And two, I can go into anybody’s office in this place to ask for help on something.” That is, openness and collaboration.
What struck Cote most strongly from that experience was “this need for people to just feel fulfilled, to be able to say, ‘I got something done. What I did was important. My boss cares, the company cares. They’re happy to see me.’”
Training and development costs money. But much of what attracts and keeps the best people – trust, recognition, purpose – doesn’t cost a thing. As the war for talent escalates, remembering that reality becomes crucial for leaders.
What We're Reading Today
Germany agrees to support Greece bailout
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Senator Bob Menendez says ‘no’ to the Iran deal
The New Jersey senator becomes the second prominent Senate Democrat (after New York’s Chuck Schumer) to deny support for the deal that President Barack Obama has argued for.
The most liked Tweep
Adam Bain, Twitter’s president of global revenue and partnerships, has so much support at headquarters that employees have started hashtags, such as #AdamBainIsSoNice, that have become trending topics. Will that continue as advertising revenue growth slows?
Facebook joins the Fastest Growing Companies
In Fortune‘s annual list of the companies with the best three-year profit, revenue, and stock growth, Mark Zuckerberg‘s company jumped into the top ten. But pharmaceutical companies and financial services dominated.
Unicorns like Uber poaching Googlers
Companies with at least a billion-dollar valuation, such as Uber and AirBnB, have turned Google employees into their own in order to improve engineering capabilities — or the quality of lunch. AirBnB alone has hired over 100 employees from the tech giant.
Hackers release AshleyMadison.com data
Making good on a threat, hackers dumped nearly 10 gigabytes of data online, including AshleyMadison.com customers’ names, addresses, and how much time they spent on the dating site for married people who want to have an affair. Avid Life Media, owner of AshleyMadison.com, has responded to the vandalism, but it’s an act that cuts to the heart of the site’s reliability.
Building a Better Leader
San Francisco isn’t the top spot to launch a new business
Instead, think about Knoxville, Tenn., or Manchester, N.H., according to a new survey of small local business owners. These may not be the best places, but they’re the easiest for launching a new venture, since the survey weighed factors like expeditious license approval.
CFO’s doubt earnings
In a survey of 400 CFOs at public and private companies, a majority said they believe that in any given year, 20% of companies intentionally misrepresent earnings while following accounting rules.
Turning every employee into a leader
It’s a huge hurdle, one that Allstate Insurance CEO Thomas J. Wilson talks about. To do so, the company focuses on making sure employees believe they’re leaders.
The Media Files
The hunt for missing traffic
Still no solution to the mystery of why some of the largest media sites, including the New York Times, Buzzfeed, and Fox News, lost in some cases millions of visitors between March and April of this year. Some blame Facebook, but other theories persist.
Intel looks to reality television for growth
CEO Brian Krzanich says the company will develop a contest show with producer Mark Burnett, with the working title “America’s Greatest Makers.” It’s an effort to boost Intel’s name among consumers, particularly in connection with wearable devices.
NBCUniversal to invest in Buzzfeed
The agreement is for $200 million, and it’s the second new media investment NBCUniversal has made in a week. The deal values Buzzfeed at $1.5 billion.
Up or Out
Paul Maritz, the CEO of Pivotal who guided the company’s spin-off from EMC and VMware two years ago, is stepping down. He will become executive chairman, while Rob Mee, who co-founded Pivotal Labs, will assume the top spot.
Yum Brands Inc. has named Mickey Pant CEO of its China division, replacing the retiring Sam Su.
Joshua Wright, seen as a pro-Google member of the Federal Communications Commission, is stepping down.
Fortune Reads and Videos
The FDA approves a ‘Female Viagra’ pill
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Startup founder reconnects with Richard Branson
Maker of a video doorbell just secured funding from Branson in a $28-million round. It may have gone differently for Jamie Siminoff, CEO of Ring, if he could have connected with the Virgin Group creator 14 years ago.
Amazon’s flex service spotted in the wild
Possibly. From early indications, it could be a pickup option.
Consumers continue to cut cords
The top eight cable companies lost 463,000 subscribers in the second quarter, up from 141,000 last year.