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Let’s Keep Those Young Employees Moving so We Can Hold on to Them

March 2, 2019
Offering career paths and international experiences will keep younger employees moving at the pace they desire and will hopefully lead to retention.

It’s a truth that no longer can be denied. Younger employees want to know what their career path will be the minute they walk in the door. Heck, most want to know that even before they walk in the door.

In fact, a 2015 poll by Gallup found that 59% of Millennials say opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job. This compares to 44% of Gen Xers and 41% of Baby Boomers who desire these types of opportunities

Gone are the days of working for a company for a few years and then looking around to see what other types of jobs are available. As soon as they enter the workplace, Millennials are seeking that next job title and uncovering the exact steps to get there.

Aware of this, one of the largest manufacturers of material handling equipment, the German-based KION Group, is addressing this issue head on.

“We needed to come up with a program that would be attractive to recent graduates,” explains Christine Wallauer, senior manager for human resources development at KION. “We want to target our high-potential group and provide them with opportunities. This new program kick-starts that process.”

Announced in December 2018, KION is offering graduates with a master’s degree, which is quite common in Germany, a spot in a new management trainee program. The traineeships are held in areas such as Intralogistics, Controlling, Product Management, and Procurement. It is a multifaceted, 18-month curriculum.

And here is the key to the program: participants will quickly assume responsibility in their own specialist area and will become familiar with the various tasks and important interfaces of the multi-brand group.

The need to keep young employees interested by providing a variety of experiences and moving them around the group is essential, Wallauer says.

Anke Groth, KION’s CFO and labor relations director, explained it perfectly in a statement announcing the program: “We offer them the perfect environment to unleash their potential and realize their own ideas.”

The ability to contribute is key to understanding how Millennials view jobs these days.

“It’s not that they want to be CEO tomorrow, but they want a seat at the table and want to feel like they're part of something,” Mike Maughan, head of brand growth and global insights at Qualtrics, commented about a survey his company conducted for CNBC.

Another goal of KION’s program is to appeal to the younger workforce’s desire to have international experience. In the program’s design, one of the five-month placement blocks will take place at an international location. (The program is run out of Germany.)

The international experience is also important to KION’s culture. “We feel that international experience strengthens the networking for employees and fosters the ability to work with a variety of cultures, which is very important to our business,” says Wallauer.

Viewing the work from an employee’s perspective is another way that KION approaches talent management. “While our program has a clear structure, we tailor it to each person. We take the time to see how each person develops and then provide a specific pathway for them,” Wallauer notes.

That structure, with an emphasis on personal development, might in fact be the key to retaining employees. While Germany is known for long tenure, it too is seeing more shifting around.

However, the notion that Millennials will change jobs every three years is not quite accurate. A survey in 2017 for CNBC by Qualtrics found that most Millennials are planning to stay in their jobs for at least six years. While six years might not be a lot, everyone has to adjust to a new reality.

KION’s program is an example of one that has its pulse directly on the needs of its talent and therefore will help attract and hold onto the talent needed for economic success.

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