3 Strategies to Retain Millennials in the Workplace

By Saskia Smit | Career Blogger

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Companies face fierce competition when it comes to hiring skilled workers that will help their business to succeed. As more and more Gen Y workers are hired to replace the retiring Boomer generation, the real question becomes how to not only attract, but also retain millennials in the workplace.

With Gen Y workers expected to form 50% of the global workforce by 2020, it’s vital that companies put strategies in place to retain their millennial workers. Retaining top talent is a challenge for any business, regardless of size, type or location. This challenge is becoming increasingly difficult with employers not making the necessary changes to retain their top talent.


Why Millennials Matter

As more millennials enter the workforce, it becomes increasingly important for companies to develop strategies that will help to increase employee satisfaction and improve retention rates. This is vital to ensure that companies maintain their competitive edge and succeed in their market.

The millennial-employee population has often been criticized in the media for their sense of entitlement, their reliance on technology and the fact that they don’t seem to value the same 20th century workplace rules that previous generations did. They may come across as if they “don’t care”, but that’s not necessarily the case.

According to SAP’s Workforce2020 study, millennial workers are often misunderstood. Their study found that millennials shared a lot of similarities with non-millennial workers. The key is that, while sharing similarities in terms of needs, wants and fears in the workplace, they do differ when it comes to how they need to be managed, how they prefer to receive feedback and their views on professional development.


What You Can Do

The key to attracting and maintaining the millennial workforce is to take the time to understand them. By addressing their needs and altering certain aspects of your processes and office culture, you can build an environment that will offer Gen Y workers increased job satisfaction. 

Here are 3 strategies you can use to help retain millennial workers in your workplace.


Provide continuous feedback

One important finding from SAP’s study is that millennials want to receive feedback on a regular basis. As opposed to non-millennial, who are quite happy to be given feedback once or twice a year, Gen Y workers want more of it. Ideally, they would like their manager to give them informal feedback at least once a month.

Many employers still rely on annual goal-settings, with scarce progress check-ins taking place throughout the year. The real problem is that employers are not only providing insufficient feedback, but they aren’t even providing the right type of feedback that these workers are after.

Your standard monthly, or even weekly performance reviews simply aren’t cutting it. Employers need to focus on learning and growth, to prevent millennials from becoming stagnant, and instead help them look to the future. They’re looking for meaningful and productive conversations that will allow you to unearth any concerns, conflict or ideas more promptly.

By providing continuous feedback, even on an informal basis, you can give workers a chance to alter their behaviors and actions prior to a formal review. For them, it’s not about receiving constant praise, but rather about “keeping score” so they don’t end up being blindsided at their next review.


Help them stay connected

One of the most overlooked factors to job satisfaction for millennials, is friendships at work. LinkedIn’s Relationships @Work study revealed that 46% of professionals across the globe believe friendships at work are important to their overall happiness. Building up relationships with others at work not only makes you feel more connected, but it also makes it easier to share feedback and ask for advice.

Relationships are getting more and more personal, with 67% of Gen Y workers likely to share personal information with work friends, including things such as family issues, relationships, and even salary. The trick is to allow younger workers to feel connected at their workplace by encouraging social interactions.

You can do this by setting up an office space where employees can meet up to collaborate or celebrate their successes. You can take walking meetings, rather than limiting conversations to emails or formal meetings. During your one-on-one meetings, try and take a few minutes just to connect on a more personal level. These small gestures will make a big difference and help to keep your staff feeling more connected.


Create a sense of belonging

The millennial workforce is looking for more that “just a job”. The capacity to attract, manage and retain top talent is about much more than offering a competitive wage. This generation values the sense of belonging to an organization that will offer them opportunities for professional development and a long-term relationship.

More than half of millennials felt that opportunity for career progression made an organization an attractive employer. This is backed up with findings that 65% of millennial workers were influenced by the opportunity for personal development when it came down to accepting their current job offer. This demonstrates the millennials’ desire to learn and progress in the workplace, more so than financial benefits.

Millennials want to feel valued; they want to be given tasks that will help to develop their skills by stretching them to the full extent of their abilities. Try to provide opportunities to obtain professional qualifications. Use one-on-one meetings to discuss their career path and their current level of satisfaction with their work. Wherever possible, offer training opportunities that will allow them to grow professionally.

What other strategies should employers be using to retain millennial workers? Share your suggestions in the comments below!


About the author:
Saskia Smit is a career blogger and former recruitment response handler. Connect with her on Twitter @mykindofmonday or mykindofmonday.com.

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