Part two – Retention

In part one of the series I postulated that we have mistakenly made numerous false assumptions about the character and motivations of Millennials. Boomers and GenYers have applied our aged paradigms to a generation that they don’t fit.  Recognizing the value, ambition and creativity of Millennials presents challenges in hiring and retention – but mostly these are challenges to our entrenched assumptions. In a world of rapid change it’s high time that we adapt our work environments to the inevitable succession to the next generation, rather than try and coax them into our mold.

Millennials want to be happy! They seek a true work community, want work to be fun, engaging, challenging and exciting.  This doesn’t mean that we have to make the office a country club, but a little bit of playground in the office doesn’t hurt. Build an open environment – This promotes inclusiveness and collaboration and studies abound that this leads to increased productivity, creative input and ultimately a stronger bottom line. Flexibility is another important priority. Work life balance has real meaning and is non-negotiable. Understanding this we need to consider flexible scheduling, work from home, job sharing. This isn’t all bad, there is amble evidence that these arrangements can lead to increased productivity and enables managers to more keenly focus resources.

Frequent criticism of Millennials center on a feeling that they don’t respect authority. Previous assumptions that leaders should be respected by virtue of their years or position don’t fly. In fact, Millennials can be fiercely loyal and it’s this loyalty that we need to earn and then reap the benefits of. Millennials seek reinforcement so communicate with them. They thrive on mentorship, inclusiveness and purpose. They’re A.D.D! Millennial’s goals are short-term, five-year plans don’t fly. Frequent meaningful reviews, advice, and encouragement are key.

Include your millennial employees in decision making whenever possible. Feeling that their presence is important, valued and impactful motivates this population. They want to be engaged and have purpose. Empower your team by giving them tasks outside of their daily functions, leverage their strengths and utilize them for special projects that provide opportunity for them to stretch but also be recognized. Millennials are likely to be more adept and intuitive around things like social media, technology, insights into their peers, so why not engage them in marketing efforts, HR meetings, management meetings where their insights can truly provide value add.

Millennials want to have meaning in their lives and that includes the time they spend at work. A sense of social responsibility also crosses over from their personal into their professional lives so efforts by the employer to be involved in the community, support socially responsible behavior and to be likewise engaged outside their corporate responsibilities helps in the process of employee retention.

Millennials are the future workforce of America. They are fiercely independent, know what they want and they have figured out that they don’t need to bend to age-old paradigms and adjust to them but rather that they have the power to change the landscape. As employers looking to successfully attract and retain them it behooves us to take the time to understand who they are, judge them empirically and not through the glasses of ourselves and our parents and when it makes sense to learn from them and adapt to the environment we now live in.