ELFA - Equipment Leasing and Finance Association - Equipping Business for Success

Industry Topics

Engaging Emerging Talent

by Harrison Smith, Vice President at Stonebriar Commercial Finance, and by Cathryn Massinburge, Vice President of Human Resources at Nexseer Capital. This resource is part of the Career Development series developed by the ELFA Emerging Talent Advisory Council. Learn more at www.elfaonline.org/industry-topics/emerging-talent.

2021 was the year of the “Great Resignation” with 45 million people voluntarily leaving their jobs. While this unprecedented event was primarily reported in the healthcare, retail and hospitality sectors, it was also felt across the board in white-collar industries. Interestingly, Millennials aged 26 – 40 had the highest resignation rate of any other generation. This cohort represents the emerging talent in these industries—primarily high-potential, mid-level managers.

Members of the ELFA Emerging Talent Advisory Council (ETAC) have felt the impact of the “Great Resignation,” with colleagues switching companies, moving to new roles or exiting the industry altogether. Human capital is the most important asset for our industry and the Great Resignation begs the question for ELFA member companies: Are we meeting the needs of younger talent?

What motivates younger talent?

When attracting and retaining the up-and-coming generation, companies are forced to think differently and adapt as employees’ wants and needs vary vastly from previous generations. Millennials are dynamic, flexible, highly educated, and ambitious. They want more than just a job; they want a career that allows them to balance their professional ambition with their family values and personal life. Competitive salaries are obviously a driving factor in their job decisions, but Millennials are more likely to prioritize work flexibility and growth opportunities as key factors in considering a role. This is evidenced by a recent Glassdoor study that found that 80% of Millennials would choose enhanced benefits over a pay raise. In the study, better insurance ranked first, followed by flexible hours, working from home and vacation time.


Deloitte published a survey on Millennials that identified that the most important job factors outside of salary are work-life balance, career progression, flexibility and meaningful work.

Work-Life balance and Flexibility were ranked #1 and #3, respectively, in the Deloitte study. Millennials have grown up in the age of the internet and smartphones where technology is always present and evolving. They are comfortable working and collaborating using online platforms such as Zoom, Salesforce and Slack. Embracing digital communication allows them to effectively contribute to their organization anywhere, while having the flexibility to meet life's demands outside of work.

Most Important Job Factors
1. Work-Life Balance
2. Career Progression
3. Flexibility
4. Meaningful Work

“When attracting and retaining the up-and-coming generation, companies are forced to think differently and adapt as employees’ wants and needs vary vastly from previous generations.”

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to embrace fully remote work environments, but in doing so, some did not prioritize work-life balance. With access to your laptop and phone 24/7, it is nearly impossible to separate yourself from your workday. The increased visibility of emails and the inability to create a delineation between work and home has led to longer workdays and greater job dissatisfaction. In addition to this, companies were faced with the challenges of training new hires virtually and had to find ways to combat declining company culture and a lack of knowledge transfer that was naturally simulated in a “typical” work environment.

Companies that can find a balance between in-office and out-of-office work situations have a significant competitive advantage over their peers in recruiting and retaining young talent. Hybrid work environments give employees the choice to work remotely for part of the week, making work-life balance easier for the employee, while still retaining the benefits employers receive from in-person collaboration. To avoid difficulties in training new talent, an employer should offer the benefits of a hybrid work environment as the employee gains tenure.

In the Deloitte survey, a clear path for career progression was the 2nd most important non-compensation factor driving job satisfaction. Millennials value personal and professional development and are not content with professional stagnation. They are proven to be more engaged when they believe that their employer is concerned about their growth and provides opportunities to reach individual career goals while fulfilling the company's mission. Companies of every size can benefit by establishing clear strategies of how talent develops from within through a career map, mentorship and continuing education.

Career maps lay out the company’s organizational structure with clear, defined advancement paths to each title level. The job titles within each department should describe the functions and expectations of that role as well as the qualifications and past accomplishments required to obtain that title. When communicated well across an organization, a career map provides employees with an ongoing mechanism to enhance their skills and knowledge that can lead to mastery of their current jobs, promotions and transfers to new or different positions.

ELFA members can also implement mentorship programs in which managers are assigned to emerging talent. This not only helps the transfer of knowledge, but also improves employee satisfaction and retention, makes your company more appealing to recruits, and trains your leaders to support and develop the emerging talent. Mentoring is a free tool that utilizes the resources that your company already has and has the potential to drive significant value to the organization through talent retention, skill-building and positive corporate culture.

Continuing education is another great tool for creating a clear path for career progression for younger talent. From sponsoring master’s degrees and incentivizing self-study professional designations (such as the CLFP) to sending young talent to ELFA events (such as Emergence), and using online training platforms offered by the ELFA, there is a wide range of options to foster a culture of continuing education.

The fourth most important non-monetary job factor among Millennials in the Deloitte survey was the ability to spend their time doing meaningful work. In a 2017 survey of 2,280 workers by BetterUp Labs, 9 out of 10 career professionals told researchers that they would sacrifice an average of 23% of their future earnings—or $21,000 a year—for "work that is always meaningful.” Clearly, companies that develop a culture of meaningful work have a significant competitive advantage.

Creating a culture of meaningful work aligns well with the three other factors in the Deloitte study. Millennials desire work that drives professional growth as well as having the flexibility to contribute to personal growth and life’s demands outside of work. Leaders can also create meaningful work by communicating a shared purpose among team members so that everyone is working toward a common goal. Recognition of the achievements of individuals and teams and showcasing the impact of their success toward the common goal contributes to a more meaningful experience at work because employees feel valued. Finally, empowering your employees to take on a new task or providing more autonomy can make their work more meaningful.

In an industry like Equipment Finance, human capital is paramount and can be the difference in the overall success of a company. While retaining employees cannot only lead to money savings but generate greater income, employee turnover can be tremendously costly. In today’s job market, where vacancies exceed available employees and unemployed individuals are less inclined to return to work, companies should evaluate the non-monetary benefits that they can provide to attract and retain talent. Companies that successfully implement important non-monetary job factors into their organizations have a significant competitive advantage in the marketplace.


Emerging Talent Advisory CouncilThis article is brought to you by ELFA’s Emerging Talent Advisory Council (ETAC), launched in 2014 to encourage industry employees get involved in the association early in their careers and to help members attract the best and brightest to the industry. ETAC holds emerging talent networking events and an annual ELFA EMERGENCE leadership development event. Get the most out of your ELFA membership and grow your career: Learn about ETAC and access additional career development resources on the Emerging Talent page.