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How to Retain your Millennial Employees

May 29, 2018
| ByJulia Pinzler
What are the most common assumptions about millennials in the workplace? Well, not only do they represent a higher percentage of workers in American companies than any other generation but they are also tech savvy, creative, innovative and adaptable. They are highly mobile, likely to change jobs more frequently and have a unique set of work philosophies and personal beliefs - not to mention expectations and requirements - that employers should be aware of.

A recent poll found that 58% of millennials intend to stay in their current role for fewer than three years and their turnover is higher than every generation before them. Another poll by Gallup found that over half of all working millennials are open to job opportunities right now and that they hop across roughly four different jobs before they hit 35. Over the course of a career, the average millennial will have held as many as twenty different jobs. Compare that to previous generations, and this statistic alone is astounding.

Companies need to have a retention strategy focused on millennials not only because they are the largest (and growing) demographic in the workforce today, but because of the substantial cost of replacing employees. A SHRM survey finds the average cost per hire for companies is estimated at $4,000. When you add in other costs such as training, orientation and lost work due to positions remaining empty, the loss of a millennial employee leaving a position can be as high as $25,000.

Despite these numbers, many companies don't yet have focused retention techniques to preserve these critical employees. Here we will go through a few strategies that have proven successful at doing just that.

Invest in your team
Dissatisfied employees are less productive and less engaged at work. This ultimately drags down your profitability. Low employee engagement and dissatisfaction with management and the workplace, in general, are major issues that many companies often try to apply quick fixes to when what they should be doing is trying to make employees feel valued by investing in the individual. Competitive compensation helps, but only so much. Invest in training and provide your workers with the resources they need for personal development such as workshops or access to online content. Employee engagement will improve when they know they are slowly becoming more experienced experts in their respective fields as they stay on with you.

Allow mobility and flexibility
According to a survey by Flexjobs, work-life balance was the number one factor for job consideration for 84 percent of millennials. Another study found that company cultures that allow remote work had happier and more productive employees that were less likely to quit. Millennials tend to make career moves in pursuit of happiness. The promise of purpose and fulfillment (and not financial gains) are the biggest motivator for them. If you give them freedom and flexibility to work their own hours, to check in online, to pick projects or to direct their own career path, why would they want to leave? You will be better able to keep them happy, motivated, engaged - and loyal - for longer. Of course, not every company can offer their employees flexible work hours for example, but the point is to look at your current benefits and policies and see where there are opportunities to make changes that could benefit both your company and your employees in alignment with your values.

Not sure what they want?
If you aren't sure what they want, just ask them. By learning about what drives and motivates your millennial workers, you will be better able to create a culture and environment that is better suited to retaining them. Millennials have grown up in an environment of customized experiences. If asked about their personal needs and if shown that their needs are important and are being addressed, they will be more likely to stay on with you.

You can personalize experiences for them in numerous ways: By giving them project ownership and involving them in leadership, by providing growth opportunities, by checking in with them on a regular basis about their progress, and by being open and available for discussions on anything should they feel the need to speak with you.

Build a community and build a team
Millennials are known to be passionate about being part of something bigger. Several studies have shown that they value team collaboration more than they do competition, which is in stark contrast to many older generations. In fact, 88 percent of millennials say they would rather work in a collaborative culture than in a competitive one.

You can build collaboration into your culture with team building games, by assembling teams to work on parts of a larger project, or by incorporating collaboration tools such as Slack, Google Docs or Trello into your work processes.

At the end of the day, the best retention strategies are those that focus on long-term benefits. There is no single cure-all for millennial retention; companies need to identify what their strengths and proficiencies are and design hiring, culture, employee growth, collaboration and of course retention programs that are not only efficient and cost-effective, but also specific to their industry and niche. These programs should improve the longer-term growth, satisfaction and collaboration prospects of your workers.

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