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HR How-To: Retain Young Talent

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you’ll recall that we’ve talked a lot about how millennials and the new generation Z (which includes those born between 1996 and 2012) are poised to transform the work place with their command of all things tech and desire to make the world a better place. However, it’s been a long time since we’ve chatted about what YOU need to do to keep said movers and shakers engaged in the day-to-day of your business. 

But before we dive in, let us first discuss why retaining this sector of the workforce is so important. According to Workplace Intelligence, millennial’s now make up a staggering 50 percent of the country’s workforce, a number that is expected to grow to 75 percent in just five more years. Of particular interest, they note that nearly two-thirds of millennials leave a job after just three years, meaning that unless you are able to drive engagement, you might be looking at a pretty swift and costly revolving door of employees! 

In a previous blog post we touted the advice of a millennial expert on four ways that you can keep this generation engaged, but in this blog, we’re going to look more closely at the younger folks’ motivations and how you can harness these interests to keep them churning out good work for years to come. 

Generational Trait: Climbing the ladder
How you can leverage it: One of the best traits about the millennial generation is their ability to cut ties if they aren’t getting what they want from a particular experience. While members of other generations will “stick it out” hoping for things to turn around, millennials will simply move on in pursuit of a role that can fit their criteria. One strategy to keep these employees engaged is to clearly outline their career pathway at your company. From their orientation period, you should map out what their current role looks like, what skills and proficiencies they will need to move up to the next level, and what that next level will entail. It’s OK not to give solid time frames, if you base it more on the acquisition of skills, it will be more motivating to this goal-driven generation, but you have to stay true to your word and keep them posted on their progress.

Generational Trait: Craving Praise
How you can leverage it: In some circles, millennials are made fun of for being the “participation trophy” generation, meaning that they require constant bold demonstrations of your love and approval in order to feel fulfilled. While this is hitting a little below the belt, there is no denying that this is a generation that feeds off feedback. Specifically, millennials crave feedback that is given frequently, within an appropriate time period (meaning that it is provided close to the activity), and that is delivered in a clear and specific manner. Companies that have a clear framework for delivering feedback, meaning that they have scheduled review periods such as a well-thought out system for providing less formal feedback, tend to have younger workers that feel more engaged and more connected to their companies. 

Generational Trait: Staying Connected 
How you can leverage it: While we typically think of millennials as the generation that has always hid behind a computer, as a generation, they are generally very social.  Studies have found that millennials prefer to build solid relationships with their coworkers. Encourage socialization by providing employees with opportunities to work beyond their typical departments so that they can forge new connections and friendships outside of their typical “pod.” Another idea to fuel fast friendships is to provide off-the-clock opportunities to mix, such as company happy hours, family days, and volunteer opportunities. 

Generational Trait: Deep pockets 
How you can leverage it: As with just about any generation, millennials are certainly motivated by money. However, unlike other generations, they can very much look beyond their take home pay in terms of assigning value to their role. Instead, millennials are attracted to company perks.

Generational Trait: Social Responsibility 
How you can leverage it: The millennial generation absolutely believes in social responsibility and in a recent survey, more than half said they would be completely turned off by a company that is in an industry that they view negatively or one that does not consistently demonstrate corporate responsibility. Harness their interests in this aspect of your company by inviting them to sit on a panel that helps to brainstorm ideas to make your company more environmentally responsible, such as manning a new recycling program or building bridges with a local environmental improvement initiative. Considering recent events, millennials also feel deeply connected to efforts to improve social responsibility, so you could consider having them contribute ideas or wording to your client-facing response to current events. 

Generational Trait: Delicate snowflakes
How you can leverage it: Once again, millennials often bear the brunt of jokes suggesting that they all believe they are unique and special. While this isn’t always the case, nor should they be treated as such, companies could stand to actually learn from this! Rather than painting all your employees with the same brush, millennials will sincerely appreciate any efforts made on behalf of their employers to best understand their motivations and tailor feedback, praise, and criticism to elicit the best possible response. For example, some employees may really perk up to the idea of being praised for a job well done in a corporate newsletter, while others may find such a display embarrassing and far from motivating, by learning what drives your workers, you can avoid these pitfalls and focus on what will get you (and your employee) the best results. 

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