How to Engage and Retain Your Millennial Workers

May 20, 2016

millennial data circleMillennials make up 35% of the work force. In 2020, that number will hit 50%.

Although perks are enough for some, millennials, particularly those with a little experience in the workforce, seek deeper incentives.

According to The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016, millennials express little loyalty to their current employers and are planning near-term exits; 25% this year alone. That’s three times higher than other generations who plan on doing the same. We already know that workers are actively disengaged. But did you know that millennials lead the pack? In fact, according to a Gallop study, 71% of millennials claim either not engaged or actively disengaged at work.

We know employee engagement is critical to retaining employees. And millennials are no different. Tons and tons of articles point to the “what” — What do I have to do to retain the millennial talent. What many of these articles fail to do, however, is provide the “how.” How do you keep this growing population of talent interested and engaged in your company? That is the focus of this article.

Listen to what they have to say

Millennials are looking for employers who put employees first. The best way to put employees first and to build trust with them is to open the lines of communication. Let them know you care about what they have to say by instituting one-on-one meetings with them once a quarter (or more). These are informal meetings where employees can discuss anything they want in a private and judgement-free environment.

Another effective way for listening to employee feedback and ideas, particularly as you scale, is by implementing an engagement program with idea software. Show your employees that they have a voice in the company by communicating the company goals and asking them for ideas on how to reach them. Once you receive the ideas and feedback, the next step is to evaluate the input and respond. Remember, closing the feedback loop is as, if not more, important as soliciting the input itself.

Prove that you don’t just care about profits

Millennials are not impressed by the size, age or general buzz surrounding a company. Nearly nine in 10 (87%) believe that the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance. It’s no coincidence that Google, for example, is consistently regarded as having the best workplace in America and equally as celebrated for its CSR platform, which supports climate change, education, and poverty alleviation.

That being said, you don’t need to compete with corporate powerhouses to send a powerful message to millennials. You can further demonstrate your company’s value to the community by fundraising or volunteering for charities and causes your employees feel passionate about. Start by engaging your employees on causes they believe in and work with them to formulate a strategy on how to support these initiatives. Make it a priority (at least once a quarter) to execute on the strategy.

Recognize them for a job well-done

Timely and meaningful employee recognition is one of the top engagement drivers. It goes a long way in creating that ideal company culture, and it proves to employees that what they do is valued. And when recognition comes from leadership, it tends to hold more weight than when it comes from a direct supervisor.

The next time you want to show your employees that you value them, skip the gift card. While it can be tempting to reward employees with tangible items, a study by found that 83% of employees find recognition for contributions more fulfilling than any rewards or gifts. In fact, 71% said the most meaningful recognition they have received had no dollar value.

Recognition can be as simple as presenting the employee with an award or praising them in a newsletter, company-wide email, or during a town hall meeting. If the employee is more private, a handwritten thank-you note or email are good options. Remember: leaders who are responsive to their employees and recognize their hard work and achievements on a regular basis see higher levels of satisfaction and engagement. And, as we know, engagement is the key ingredient for keeping millennials around.

Focus on career development

Millennial leadership loyalty deloitteIn order to keep millennials around, let them know what growth opportunities are available to them from the start. Millennials need to know that the company will invest in them and continually up-train them, providing them with the new skills necessary to advance in their careers.

To help them develop, set up coffee meetings with leaders in roles they aspire to one day attain and host skill development sessions. Most importantly, consider the talents and skills of the employee and make sure that he or she is matched with a job role that they will enjoy and excel in. If there is a discrepancy there, work with the employee to resolve it and be as transparent as possible.

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