Recently Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (Deloitte Global) published a paper on the state of talent in the global chemical industry, and our findings painted a troubling picture. One particularly worrisome insight is the degree to which the global chemical workforce is aging and the thin talent pipeline available to fill the gaps from a coming wave of retirements. For example, in the United States, 23 percent of employees will be eligible to retire from the industry within the next 10 years. Unlike in other industries with a bi-modal workforce distribution with younger workers eagerly ready to fill positions opened by retiring baby boomers, the distribution of workers in the chemical industry is more like that of a cliff. Roles will remain unfilled unless something changes.

The good news for the global chemical industry is that there is a large population of smart, energetic, talented individuals who can fill those roles, but only if the conditions are right. That group is the millennials.

Deloitte Global recently published The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016, which includes findings from over 7,700 Millennials from around the globe on their perspectives about the economy and business. This survey has some prescient findings for the global chemical industry on how to smartly tap this generation of talent to join the industry today and lead it tomorrow.

First, global chemical executives should recognize that the model of an employee joining a company after college and remaining with that company until retirement is likely extinct – at least with this generation. The survey statistics found:

  • 25 percent of millennials hope to leave their current employer within a year
  • 44 percent hope to do the same within two years
  • 66 percent do not expect to be with their current employer by 2020

While it is possible to reduce this churn, companies should likely accept that their talent is going to be more mobile. Executives should build talent strategies, which adapt to this reality instead of trying to fight against it.

Second, global chemical executives should recognize that some of the stereotypical views of millennials are inaccurate. For example, the survey found:

  • The number one factor millennials value in selecting a job is financial compensation. While other factors are important to this generation, contrary to popular opinion, money really does matter
  • Millennials actually do hold business in high regard. 73 percent of the survey responders said that business has a positive impact upon the broader society
  • The buzz around a company is not all that important to Millennials. What is important is what the business does and how it treats its people. This is particularly important for chemicals executives to recognize because, while the industry may not have the panache of Silicone Valley, panache is not needed

Third, global chemical executives should try to understand what is important to millennials and tailor talent strategies and environments in a way that meets these needs. The surveys found that in addition to salary, millennials also highly value:

  • Good work / life balance
  • Opportunities to progress and be leaders (this is important not just for attraction but also for retention, as many who stated they are planning to leave their company said they are doing so because of lack of leadership development)
  • Flexibility (i.e., remote working / flexible hours)
  • Sense of meaning from their work
  • Professional development and training programs

It is important for global chemical executives to recognize that they can be successful with millennials, as part of their team. To attract millennials, companies should offer a positive work environment with leadership development opportunities and high compensation. If this can be done, millennials can be the solution to the coming retirement cliff, or at least a big part of the solution. The next focus should be generation Z or the post-millennials who are just starting college now, but that is a different discussion all together.

Source: LinkedIn

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