Thoughtful Strategies

By Nicole Blevins

The millennial generation now outnumbers any other generation in the business world, and the number of them entering the workforce is projected to steadily increase in the coming years. It is now more important than ever to ensure that businesses have practices in place specifically designed to attract, retain and engage key millennial talent. Many organizations think they already have good practices in place to keep talented employees happy and loyal to them. However, what previously motivated other generations in the workplace may no longer apply to the millennial generations and what traditionally worked for the baby boomer and generation X employees, does not appeal to millennial employees.

In fact, two-thirds of working millennials have expressed a desire to leave their current organizations. Moreover, more than 60 percent of millennials are leaving new jobs within the first three years. This is a serious problem affecting bottom line and company culture. Some studies suggest the cost of turnover for a single position can range from $15,000 to $25,000, while others suggest that the cost of replacing a specialized position can be from six to nine months of that individual’s salary. This means that the cost increases as the pay range of the position increases, which can be pretty high depending on how essential a position is to an organization. This is simply too much money for organizations to spend solving a very simple problem: by focusing on what matters to millennials and honing in on what they value, organizations can recruit and retain millennial talent and protect the competitive advantage they have in the marketplace.

There are currently five different generations sharing the workforce: traditionalists, baby boomers, genX, millennials (genY), and gen Z. This has created the very diverse workforce that we see today across corporate America. And, while this diversity is important, many organizations have remained stagnant in their strategies to retain their most talented employees.

Studies show that millennials are looking for flexibility, opportunities for advancement, autonomy, collaboration, and continuous learning. Other generations placed higher emphasis on competitive pay, work-life balance, recognition, and job security.

To engage and retain your millennial talent, follow these three simple rules:

1. Be a Mentor, Not a Manager

Studies show employees leave their managers, not their workplace. This is especially true for the millennial generation, who crave regular feedback from sources such as friends on social media, or parents and support systems. However, they feel lucky if they are able to get feedback annually in a review from their superior. As a manager, it is essential to take the time to be a mentor to your millennial team members and give them continuous feedback, not only on their performance, but also on their development so they continue to learn and grow.

2. Purpose over Paycheck

Millennials like to see the purpose and value in the work they do. If they feel that the work they do is not contributing to the mission or vision of the organization, they will not find job satisfaction and might be more prone to leave. To address this, make sure that when assigning tasks or roles, the importance and purpose of the task is clarified along with its projected impact to the organization. Studies show that millennials are more likely to accept positions at organizations with aligned values and where they feel more likely to make a difference.

3. Transparency

Millennials value trust and openness. They like to be involved in decision-making and want to understand changes happening within the organization. Essentially, they need to trust that the organization is being open and honest with them. Transparency is intrinsically related to trust… if organizations are not transparent or open with millennials, a sense of mistrust and disappointment will be foment. If organizations are transparent with their employees, it is more likely that the employees will trust and remain loyal to them over time.

Millennials are the future leaders of our businesses. If organizations do not develop ways to retain key millennial talent, they will lose their competitive advantage and struggle to maintain a cohesive workforce. With this in mind, organizations should develop key strategies to engage millennials in making meaningful contributions in the workplace so they, in turn, can maintain cohesiveness, lessen turnover and preserve profitability.

Nicole Blevins holds a BSBA and SHRM-CP certification and is a Human Resources Specialist at Community Health Centers, Inc.