Retaining Millennials in the Workplace

There has been no shortage of articles about millennial workers in recent memory. Whether you perceive this generation of workers to be entitled and lazy or representative of the new paradigm for what it means to be an employee, one fact is inescapable: millennials will comprise the vast majority of the workforce as the baby boomers completely age out of the workforce over the next ten years. So, it behooves the savvy workforce manager to understand what makes the millennial tick and how to get the very best of this new generation of workers. Here is what you need to know about how millennials interact with the workplace and best practices for retaining millennials in the workplace.

Millennials need accessibility to leadership

Whether it is thanks to having grown up in the age of social media, which provides immediate feedback to each and every action, or because these young workers crave meaning in their work beyond simply earning a paycheck, this generation assigns great importance on remaining in closer contact with their supervisors. Unlike earlier generations who preferred to stay out of the boss’s spotlight, millennials require active feedback on a regular basis. “No news” is no longer “good news” when it comes to managing the workforce. These workers want to know how they’re performing and feedback should be directed towards improvement, as opposed to recrimination. Evidence suggests millennials are far more likely than their older cohorts to leave a company due to their relationship (or lack thereof) with the boss.

Work/life balance is much more important to this generation of workers

Millennials are more prone to “work to live” versus “living to work”. Perhaps because they grew up watching their parents making significant sacrifices of time for their careers that didn’t always yield sufficient return, the millennial worker is not as eager to act as selflessly for their employer without some quid pro quo. One common example of this exchange is the hybrid work schedules that have become more and more common with the expansion of the gig economy. Other benefits encouraging personal growth that aid in retaining millennials in the workplace include tuition reimbursement or student loan forgiveness programs, work-from-home privileges and health initiatives such as gym memberships and on-site medical options.

In a similar vein, millennials tend to gravitate toward employment opportunities that are based more on deliverables and achievement than on time spent at the office. They tend to achieve more when working on deliverables-based or milestone-based projects versus time spent on the project (i.e. the 40-hour work week). For this generation, the preference is shifting away from emphasis on the daily 9 to 5 and is moving towards flexible working spaces (i.e. collaboration at the office and task completion at home). Creating a project plan with deliverables often yields a much higher level of ownership and focus for these workers compared to the rigid enforcement of a 40-hour work week.

Keeping your millennial workforce engaged

This requires a somewhat different approach as well. Creating the culture of “a team working towards a singular goal” and encouraging millennials to problem solve with guidance and feedback may help keep these talented if a bit disaffected younger workers in productive roles. When a millennial asks for opportunity or growth, an employer must provide it, or they can expect the employee to leave quickly for greener pastures. The average millennial tenure with a company is 2.2 years, with most leaving because they are afraid of “dead end” opportunities.

To the older generations, these parameters may smack of entitlement and idealism, but the cold reality is, the millennial generation will be the bulk of the workforce in the US before long and those organizations failing to adapt will be outperformed by those making the effort to evolve and retain millennials in their workplace. For more ideas on how to manage and design agile workforces, read more about Talent Acquisition Management Solutions from the nextSource blog.

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