Retaining Millennials: Solve This Problem and Get an HR Job Anywhere

Remember when you were a kid, and your parents dragged you along with them to visit a relative or friend’s house? I use the word “house” loosely because, for a kid, it felt more like a prison.

There was no cable TV, no video games, and no other kids to play with—just adults talking about boring adult stuff. Of course, this was before you had a cell phone to pass the time (kids have it so easy these days). One hour there was an hour too long. You couldn’t wait to break out of that place.

42 percent of millennials expect to change jobs every one to three years Click To Tweet

Sadly, it seems like millennials feel the same way about their workplaces: disengaged, disinterested, and dying to leave. The stats paint the picture clearly:

  • 42 percent of millennials expect to change jobs every one to three years
  • More than half of millennials are planning to leave their company in the next two years
  • 93 percent of millennials left their company the last time they changed jobs
  • People who graduated college between 2006 and 2010 averaged nearly three jobs the first five years of their career, which is more than double the average of the prior generation

You already know how difficult it is to keep those quick-to-leave millennials in your organization. You face that reality every day. But despite the trends, millennials actually want to stay with an organization long term.

According to a study, almost 90 percent of millennials said they would choose to stay in a job for the next 10 years if they knew they would get annual raises and upward career mobility. So it’s not that millennials are noncommittal, they just want to commit to the right organization.

So how can you change the trend in your organization and make millennials stick? Well, the more you know about what drives them, the less likely you’ll be to drive them away.

Why Do Millennials Matter?

You might be wondering why we’re making all this fuss about millennials. Well, take a look around your workplace. Millennials now account for the majority of the workforce, and if they don’t hold the majority in your company yet, they will soon. By 2025, they’ll comprise 75 percent of the workforce.

Retaining high-potential employees is key to staying competitive for years to come.

Not only are millennials the future of your organization, they’re also a talented bunch. They’re the most educated generation in history, tech savvy, entrepreneurial, and creative.

Older millennials are entering their mid-30s now, so many of them are already in leadership roles or will be in line for them soon. Retaining those high-potential employees is key to staying competitive for years to come.

How NOT to Retain Millennials

Before we examine the keys to keeping millennials, we have to bust some myths about this mercurial generation.

One misconception is that millennials aren’t willing to pay their dues. While it seems like they want to be in the C-suite in six weeks, the truth is they want a seat at the table and feel like they’re contributing ideas, not just performing tasks.

Millennials want to feel like they're contributing ideas, not just performing tasks Click To Tweet

People also think millennials want a workplace with ping-pong tables, foosball tournaments, bean bags in conference rooms, and beer on tap. Sure, millennials want to have fun, but office perks won’t keep them. According to a Gallup study, millennials put little importance on whether a company is a fun place to work or has an informal environment.

Ever hear that millennials value a company’s social mission more than traditional benefits? While they are socially conscious, millennials want traditional benefits. The generation is growing up and starting families, and they rank healthcare as the most important benefit.

Four Keys to Retaining Millennials

According to Gallup, the top factors millennials consider in an employer are opportunities to learn and grow, the quality of their manager, the type of work, and opportunities to advance. Here are some ways you can meet those needs:

1. Instill a Culture of Coaching

Millennials value their relationship with their manager and want someone who invests in their career development. Nearly 70 percent of employees say their managers aren’t actively engaged in their career development, which may be why they’re quick to leave an organization.

Open, real-time feedback between managers and employees is key to organizational agility, and when managers take a hands-on approach to development, HR shifts to a more strategic role.

Managers need to be coaches instead of just supervisors if you want to retain millennials.

Managers need to be coaches instead of just supervisors if you want to retain millennials. This involves providing regular feedback and consistent communication about how an employee is performing. Check out these five essential coaching tips.

2. Provide Learning and Development

Younger workers are ambitious and are eager to learn and develop. It’s the top priority in their career, so organizations must cater to it. Investing in millennial employees’ development early—even in the first 90 days—is vital to retaining them.

It’s also important to provide training opportunities throughout their careers and help high performers develop leadership skills. According to Deloitte, 71 percent of millennials expect to leave their jobs within two years because they’re dissatisfied with how their leadership skills are being developed. Ongoing training helps employees transition to leadership positions easier and equips them to provide peer-to-peer coaching as they advance.

3. Enable Collaboration

Millennials are natural collaborators and value group work more than other generations. They like to share their ideas and feel like they’re impacting their organizations. Providing opportunities for collaborative discussions such as roundtables can meet this need and encourage innovative thinking.

Some larger companies have created small, team-like divisions to mimic a startup environment to attract and retain millennials.

4. Provide Ongoing Feedback

One criticism of millennials is they grew up in a time when everyone received trophies for participation, and they need constant validation. Whether you like it or not, that’s how they were raised, and those needs transfer to the workplace.

They need to constantly know how they’re performing and have a system to assess their performance. Ongoing feedback tools equip organizations to meet this need. It not only makes them aware of their strengths and weaknesses, but it also helps managers evaluate performance.

Employee retention is a challenge for companies and can be costly by constantly recruiting, interviewing, and onboarding new employees when another millennial leaves. It doesn’t have to be that way. Millennials can be loyal to companies, as long as they’re empowered to drive their development and given opportunities to advance within an organization.

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