Last week, Solutions 21 hosted Leadership Day Pittsburgh, an event that focused on the discussion surrounding paradigm-shifting strategies for 21st-century leadership and what it takes to attract and retain top talent. Our team assembled an impressive and diverse group of panelists – all of whom are leadership experts in their respective fields – to discuss the day’s topics and reached a sold-out audience of business leaders and Millennial all-stars from around the region. Needless to say, the response to the first of four national events was overwhelming and we thank all who were able to attend for joining us.

During the event, we opened the Next Leader Now Panel discussion with a quote from Peter Drucker:

“The one thing you can predict with absolute certainty is demographics”.

Business leaders across the country realize the importance of attracting and retaining top talent. There simply are not enough Gen Xers to replace the retiring Baby Boomers, who are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day. By 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be Millennials. The numbers don’t lie. This cohort is truly the future of work.

Warren Buffett – who was also quoted during the panel discussion – said it best:

“Only a fool would fail to plan for an inevitability.”

The sad reality for most businesses, however, is that we are failing to plan for this next generation of leadership. A recent report from the Allegheny Conference concludes businesses are failing to invest in what was once called “soft skills”. In fact, nearly every – every – regional study we have researched says the same thing: technical skills are considered the price of admission. Anyone entering the workforce needs to possess the correct technical skillsets. However, businesses are failing to develop leadership skills. Things like communication skills, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, and leadership are simply not being addressed, or not being addressed with the appropriate priority.

During one of the several breakouts of the day, we discussed a simple mind shift regarding research from the U.S. department of labor statistics. According to the research, it is estimated that – at a minimum – it costs 25% of an individual’s fully-funded compensation to replace them. In simple terms, if salary, payroll taxes, benefits, etc. equates to $60,000, at a minimum, it costs $15,000 to replace that person.

In the 20th Century, this was considered a cost for businesses. However, that was before a new generation – Millennials – began moving from job to job much more frequently. 20 years ago, employee turnover did not cost what it costs now. Our research indicates – and business leaders confirmed – most organizations are still spending money to REPLACE an employee instead of looking at how this money can be spent to KEEP the employee.

All of our research shows that a proactive investment in the development of future leaders becomes a major retention tool. In fact, we have found significant cost savings for organizations by proactively investing versus reactively replacing. What was once considered a cost of doing business in replacing the occasional turnover, has become a financial drain for many organizations. Too much unwanted turnover puts organizations at both a financial and competitive disadvantage.

Attracting and retaining the Millennial cohort is not as hard or mysterious as it has been made out to be. We business leaders simply need to evolve our 20th-century leadership development strategies, along with our use of resources, to fit the 21st-century workforce.

A final quote referenced during the Next Leader Now Panel discussion at Leadership Day Pittsburgh was one from John Wooden:

“It is what you learn after you know everything that counts.”

Businesses who are open to new ideas and thinking about the attraction and retention of talent will undoubtedly attract and retain top talent. At the conclusion of Leadership Day Pittsburgh, many folks approached us with questions. If we did not get to see you, please give us a call. If you were unable to attend and would like to discuss the topic further, just let us know.

And remember: teams that have the best talent usually win.