As millennials become a larger and larger proportion of the workforce, businesses are going to have to develop successful strategies to retain millennial employees if they want to remain competitive and ultimately successful in sometimes-difficult market conditions. While better educated than their forebears, millennials can also be more out-spoken against policies they disagree with (as Google has discovered to their cost), and less loyal overall to the company than older age cohorts. Here are 5 proven ways your company can successfully retain millennial employees.
How to Retain Millennial Employees
1. Create an attractive working environment
Hardworking millennials in the workplace are increasingly looking for a workplace that they believe they will feel relaxed and happy in. Though it’s not possible for a company to force colleagues to get along or enjoy each other socially outside of office hours, there are simple ways a company can foster an environment that makes this more likely. Firstly, companies should try to deal with those small day-to-day annoyances that really bother workers – such as the photocopier that doesn’t function properly, or a carpet that is long past its best and gives the impression that management don’t care. Then look to ways of getting workers to collaborate more often, which can be as simple as providing a descent coffee machine. Plants and artwork positioned around an office environment can also create a positive ‘get-to-it’ vibe, but avoid hanging anything with a mantra attached – which millennials will actually find old fashioned and off-putting.
2. Construct a clear ladder of career progression
A feeling of stagnation in a job is one of the main reasons companies struggle to retain millennial employees. Knowing that the lifelong job of yesteryear is a rare as hen’s teeth, millennials have an ever-decreasing loyalty to their workplace, and aren’t afraid to jump ship if a more fulfilling position with clear career progression appears on the horizon. This can mean a company has gone to all the
trouble, time and expense of training up a millennial employee only to see them wave goodbye six months down the line. A proven way to avoid this according to PwC is by recognizing and rewarding achievements and accomplishments. It can be as simple as ‘good job’ or a small physical reward like a gift token, but the most successful companies to engage millennial employees will have a system
of internal promotions and career development that focuses on long-term goals and achievement. While a salary bump is always welcome, ultimately more than half of millennials would take a pay cut for a new position they believe better suits them.
3. Ensure a positive work-life balance
Many millennials are of the opinion that it’s a company’s responsibility to try and ensure a positive work-life balance. They might not say so openly, but they are expecting managers to realize they have hobbies, friends and families outside of the working day that are just – if not more – important to them, and expect to have time for them. Understanding this from the outset is a huge leap forward in understanding how to retain millennial employees. Beyond this, there are further basic steps companies can take. For instance, the company’s travel policy can be adapted to ensure business trips become bleisure trips, providing a little time for a worker to relax. Or the company could allow workers to work remotely when possible, reducing the number of times they have to commute into the office on a weekly basis. But just making a millennial employee feel like they can get up and take a ten minute break without being judged by a manager is equally important to this subset of the workforce.
4. Improve your reputation among millennials
If your company has a negative reputation with millennials generally, it’s going to be hard to convince this age group that your company is the right one for them, and your ability to retain millennial employees will fall through the floor. Few millennials are going to work for a company that goes against their morals, or that friends are going to think isn’t a cool company to be working for. The first thing to do is work out what your current reputation is. This doesn’t have to mean spending thousands of dollars on research. Ask the millennial employees you’ve already tempted into the company, or even friends of the family, not only what they think you’ve been doing right, but also what they believe you’ve been doing wrong. Changing any consensus on this issue will not only improve your reputation among millennials generally, but help make this group of workers feel like management is listening to them, which goes a long way to how to keep millennial employees happy.
5. Throw out the old hierarchyWhen we suggest throwing out the old hierarchy, J+F aren’t suggesting firing your older staff and replacing them with millennials, but of dismantling the way companies have traditionally operated with a succession of line managers all the way to the CEO. While some structure is important, millennials are known to favor the collaborative approach, and also want to feel valued. Some of
that hard-to-find loyalty can be gained when a company has an open-door policy at all levels, and employees are encouraged to voice their opinion. It can be as simple as reorganizing office space into an open plan arrangement where the CEO is seen as ‘just’ another worker who takes coffee with everyone else rather than an unapproachable Wizard of Oz figure in a corner office who should
not be disturbed under any circumstances. Going further, companies can create mentor schemes to retain millennial employees that help coach this cohort into career progression using the experience a senior manager has gained. Mentoring schemes also give managers a way of feeling the temperature of the workforce one-on-one, while town hall meetings held on regular occasions will provide a huge insight into how the workforce is feeling about the company as a whole – an unhappy general workforce will not lead to millennial employees staying for any length of time.