Millennials now outnumber all the other generations in the workplace. Their lack of loyalty to an employer is often viewed negatively, but in reality Millennial employees have adapted to function in a professional world dramatically different from that of their parents and grandparents.
“It was once the case that the average American could find a job at a reliable company and work there for the tenure of your career,” says this Insperity article by Rich Whittington. But things have changed: “Millennials understand that they can’t sit at one company for decades and collect a pension upon retirement. That’s just not an option anymore.”
3 tips for retaining Millennial employees
To meet the challenge of retaining Millennial employees, businesses need to recognize three things that matter most to this age group:
They expect work-life harmony. They prioritize personal and career development. They value knowing that their work contributes to a larger purpose.
Millennial employees value work-life harmony more highly than any other factor at work, according to Ryan Jenkins, generations expert and Inc. contributor. “Millennials are more interested in leveraging today’s tech to integrate work and life versus just balancing them,” he writes. “The term ‘work-life balance’ implies that work is separate from life, but in reality, it’s all life. Forcing people to put work and life into separate boxes that never overlap is unrealistic in today’s always-on world.”
How to retain Millennials with work-life harmony:
- Focus on outputs and efficiency rather than hours on a time clock. Give options such as fewer, yet longer days, and flexibility to make up for time needed for things like dental appointments.
- Offer training on healthy lifestyle topics such as wellness, time management, and stress management.
- Consider offering alternative benefits that better align with Millennials’ needs and goals.
- Reinforce the importance of disconnecting. Jenkins points out that, more than any other age group, Millennials tend to be “on” at all times, even when they aren’t technically at work. Encourage them to use all their vacation days and don’t require them to check Slack on weekends.
- Provide family leave. As Millennials become parents, both men and women want the opportunity to take paid time off to bond with a new child and adjust to this life change.
Personal and career development
This is the second most important job factor to your Millennial employees, according to Jenkins. They aren’t so much about advancing to the C-Suite as developing their own strengths and leadership. If their current employer doesn’t give them a path for growth, they will seek it elsewhere.
How to retain Millennial employees with growth opportunities:
- Learn their goals and help them develop steps to reach them. Think creatively with them about the potential for desired growth in both lateral and vertical moves.
- Be willing to invest in training that advances skills, both directly related to their role and those that will expand their value for the future.
- Challenge them with new responsibilities and leadership on projects.
- Nurture creativity. It’s a sought-after strength across most industries today.
- Make mentoring intentional. More experienced employees can nurture needed communication and leadership skills. Millennials can reverse-mentor older coworkers to build digital and media strengths. Everyone wins, including the organization, and Millennials sense that they are valued team members.
If given a choice, Millennial employees will choose work that clearly serves a greater purpose over one that simply pays the bills.
How to retain Millennials with purpose:
- Communicate how their work contributes to the company’s mission. Better yet, tie it to the vision. Remind them of this in a positive way every time you give them feedback.
- Create teams around common goals to build community.
- Include them in volunteer opportunities that align with your corporate social responsibility values.
In the end, remember that Millennials are human just like employees of all ages. Engaging them by listening, noticing, and taking their goals and concerns seriously is worth the effort. Their strengths will lead us into the future, and our places of employment will benefit from their contributions today. Let them know you believe that, and you might be surprised at their loyalty.
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