As millennials move from their first jobs into management roles, several factors will determine whether the talent cultivated in the Tampa Bay area will stay in the area.
Opportunity for growth and to make an impact, along with quality of life, are driving forces in retaining millennials, said leaders of three young professional groups in the region during the Jan. 11 Café con Tampa.
Retaining talent is critical for many businesses that have invested in training, and it can be a challenge when dealing with millennials — those born between 1980 and 1994, who are now 24 to 38 years old. A 2018 survey by Deloitte found that 43 percent of millennials plan to quit their current job within two years and only 28 percent plan to stay in their current role for more than five years, according to Forbes.
“One of our focuses is how do we keep more young talent in Tampa Bay,” said Raechel Canipe, chair of Emerging Leaders of Tampa Bay. “How do we keep those people here regionally, growing this region and improving the business climate.”
Canipe, a document solutions specialist at Dex Imaging, came to Tampa to attend University of South Florida and decided to stay— even after getting better job offers — because she feels the area is on the precipice of something big.
“There are big changes happening in Tampa. I think we can all feel it, along with our neighbors across the bay,” she said. “I have an engaged network of professionals through Emerging Leaders of Tampa Bay, and I can see the changes that we’re making in the community that are going to make this the place that is home for me, hopefully for the rest of my life. Those changes are things like transportation. We’ve been doing phone banks and calling people to vote yes for a transportation tax. We finally got that accomplished. We’e taking action like that to shape policy and to shape the growth of business in this region that are going to make it the best place to live in the United States.”
Camille Hebting, chair of Clearwater Young Professionals and sales and marketing manager at Clearwater Ferry Services and The Tropics Boat Tours, grew up in France, but also chose to stay in the area after an internship at the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce. A lot of people asked her why she wanted to be in Florida, when she could make more money elsewhere, she said.
“The way I look at it is for opportunity. Sometimes the opportunity for growth is more important than the opportunity for money,” Hebting said. “Young professionals are different in the sense that money no longer is the No. 1 priority. Because of that some companies take advantage and say you don’t need the money and those are usually the ones that say I don’t understand why this young professional left the company after six months … But there are a lot of people that make a conscious decision to live here and I was one of them, and I think that the way we keep them here is by showing them the opportunities.”
St. Petersburg has always been home for Lauren Ellis, chair of St. Petersburg Young Professionals and an account executive at public relations firm Tucker/Hall, but she also decided to return to the area after 10 years attending school in the Carolinas. When people asked her what she planned to do for a job in St. Petersburg, she told them, “I’ll figure it out.”
“As a millennial in this generation, I think we’re much more OK and much more secure in the idea that we can choose where we live and the job will figure itself out,” she said. “I came back home because I don’t think there’s anywhere better to have beach, arts … all these things within three cities that are a single bridge away. That’s a very exciting prospect for quality of life as well as general satisfaction.”
The millennials who are moving into leadership positions have some unique attributes.
“I started in the job market in the midst of a recession and for a living I sell technology that automates people’s jobs,” Canipe said. “So, two insecurities there. I’m always thinking about when is that next recession and how do I make myself recession-proof? How do I make myself so skillful that I can’t be replaced by AI?”
But millennials also are the generation fording the river between those who grew up without a computer in their home and the generation that grew up with a computer in their pocket, Ellis said.
“Technology will really impact the way we lead teams as we transition out of a traditional workspace – whether or not we’re skyping or we’re hologramming, because I think that’s where we’re going — but thinking about those things now and creating opportunities for connection will be important for our generation,” Ellis said.
Opportunities abound, according to Hebting.
“The way that I look at it is everyone has a chance to take the opportunities that are in front of them, and it’s also about making sure those opportunities happen,” she said. “Sometimes, for young professionals that’s a little difficult, both because we don’t necessarily think that we’re worthy of opportunities, and also we look at them as smaller than they may be, or too big for us or too different or too difficult.”
One opportunity open to young professionals is mentorship.
“Mentorship is one of those things that everyone looks at in a completely different way than it actually happens,” she said. “Mentorship is an opportunity. It doesn’t happen when someone says, ‘Hi, can I be your mentor or mentee.’ Young professionals don’t necessary know they can be mentors as well … and they need to see that opportunity.”