March 14, 2018
Millennials are essential to the success of almost any tech start-up these days, with their mix of cutting-edge knowledge, youthful dynamism, and fingers on the pulse of what makes today's consumers tick.
But as any employer who regularly employs millennials will tell you, pinning them down for the long haul isn't easy. Around two-thirds of millennials report that they intend to change jobs before the year 2020 and half of them feel that their careers are being held back in their current positions.
So how can employers retain the loyalty and enthusiasm of this critical demographic? Here are some reliable strategies to keep millennials motivated and focused for as long as you need them on board.
Make Professional Development a Key Part of Working Life
Above all, millennials want to know that they are on the path to promotion and greater responsibility. The number one reason for moving on is the feeling that they are missing out on promotions, so give them something to which they can aspire.
It helps to make internal promotions a priority, at least for most positions. But this has to be combined with a training program which gives millennials skills that they demand. Even if they aren't likely to receive a promotion, having additional skills makes them more employable in the future, and the prospect of gaining more skills at your company should motivate them to stick around.
You might think that investing in training is a waste of money if the workers being trained just move on soon afterward. But it doesn't usually work like that. The reason millennials leave is that they aren't receiving training and don't feel like their working lives are developing.
Falling Behind Other Companies Is A Big Professional Turn-Off
When your company starts to experience increased employee departures, the cause could be that there are better opportunities elsewhere, not that you are necessarily a wrong place to work.
One of the things that fascinate millennials is technology. They want to be in workplaces that are investing in and using the latest computing systems, software, apps, networking tools and peripherals to get the job done. They want to be in places that are experimental and dynamic, not stuck in their ways and conservative.
Investing in better tech is costly, which is why many companies delay, but the benefits are enormous. Employee retention is just one of them, but it's an underrated positive that is worth taking into account.
Is Your Workplace Organized to Bring the Best Out of Millennials?
Another aspect of millennial culture is their sociability. The rise of social networking has trained millennials to adopt a collaborative, social style of working which values small teams over individual achievement.
This rule isn't an absolute, but a mark of healthy companies is their ability to create workplaces which harness these cultural developments, bringing employees together for ad hoc projects and letting them exchange information smoothly when required.
Setting up social network-style intranets and basing incentives on team performance can be good ways to tap into the "collaborative generation." And it helps to create a sense of teamwork between bosses and employees as well. Millennials like working together as equals, not in individualized silos.
Flexibility Can Be A Major Retention Incentive
You'll probably also be aware of the tendency among millennials to seek a healthy balance between work and social life. At any time, employees could be plotting city breaks to Europe or wilderness trips, and you can guarantee that work will have to fit around their schedule to some degree.
Instead of fighting this side of millennial personalities, it makes sense to go with the flow by making your working culture as flexible as possible. Allowing workers to base themselves at home or on the road can help to balance productivity and recreation, and flexible office hours help as well.
Studies have shown that around three-quarters of millennials believe that they would be more productive in more flexible work settings, so there's a desire to make this kind of system work. Old-fashioned companies find it hard to let go of their control over workers, but the ones which retain millennials most efficiently know that 9-to-5 working weeks are a thing of the past. Flexibility rules.
Lighten the Mood and Diagnose Workplace Depression
However, flexibility, promotions, and collaboration can only go so far if workplaces are depressing places to be. Even the most ambitious millennials can be susceptible to depression when workloads are too high, bullying is a feature of their work, and they have external pressures like high student debts or housing costs.
When workers are unhappy, companies can suffer from a host of pathologies. Absenteeism can sky-rocket, productivity can slow, disputes can rage between managers and workers, and - most of all - people start to leave, seeking healthier environments.
That makes it vital to have an eye on your employees' mental health. Put systems in place to ask when the signs of depression appear and don't be afraid to strike arrangements with local counseling organizations. Away days and workplace sports teams can be good ways to boost spirits, but they can only go so far.
More than anything else, millennials want to feel valued and comfortable when carrying out their work. So place a premium on stamping out workplace harassment and bullying, and try to monitor workloads closely. Even if you have massive amounts to get through, overloading stressed out millennials will only drive them away.
Create an Effective Strategy for Retaining Millennials
Every company in the country should be able to retain, train and motivate a workforce of millennials, no matter the sector in which they work. But it's not something that will magically happen. It needs to be planned from the top.
By focusing on worker happiness, collaborative working, technological investment, creating development pathways, and providing flexibility, employers can convert dysfunctional workplaces into places that millennials value, enjoy, and (though it might sound utopian) even promote among their contacts.
Spend some time getting these basics right, and the benefits will be huge. They may not pay off straight away, but in a year's time the employee retention statistics will tell their own story.