For employers that have trouble retaining Millennial employees, it’s easy to say that young workers are nothing more than a liability. As the thinking goes, they’re entitled brats who expect the world to be handed to them on a silver platter. Why should you hold onto them?
The fact is, the attitude above comes from a huge misinterpretation of Millennial attitudes. Good salary and benefits can help with retention, but you can’t guarantee younger workers will stay unless you make it absolutely clear that they’re working toward something. In other words, they need a purpose.
Let’s look at four drivers that turn Millennials into motivated employees.
Support for career development
For plenty of employers, it seems counter-intuitive to suggest that they can retain employees by supporting their career development. Won’t they just head off to greener pastures as soon as they get the chance? Why should you risk making an investment that might suddenly go up in smoke?
As counter-intuitive as the thinking is, making your employees more valuable generally has a positive return on investment. Beyond building a more skilled talent base, support for career development greatly motivates employees to stay with their employers. Millennials want to be constantly moving forward, and they’ll happily root themselves at an organization that will give them forward momentum.
There are lots of ways to support career development, and you can choose one or more depending on the needs of your organization. Tuition assistance, when applied smartly, can be very effective tool for both training and retention. Mentoring programs are great for integrating new employees into an organization and fostering loyalty. Other options include leadership development and extensive feedback on work.
A visible career path
A good conclusion to draw from the previous section is that Millennial workers are more likely to stay with an organization where they can see themselves having a good future. They’re not just concerned about advancing in a field or industry — they want to advance within your organization. For that reason, you need to make your organization’s advancement track absolutely clear. Millennial employees need an idea of what’s likely to come if they stay with you for three months, six months, a year, five years, or even ten years.
Ability to make a difference
After all this talk about what employers should give to Millennial employees, it’s necessary to turn our attention to a somewhat different motivating factor in Millennials’ career choices: they want to contribute. Furthermore, they want their contribution to have a noticeable positive effect on your organization.
For some employers, this need to contribute can actually pose a problem. For example, Millennials prefer to avoid organizations that are too rigidly hierarchical, since they are generally more likely to resist or ignore new ideas. They won’t go above and beyond for these employers, not because they don’t want to but because they’re not given the chance. An employer that hopes to retain Millennial employees needs to be receptive of ideas from all levels.
You can make Millennials into loyal and productive employees if you can provide them with a purpose. Whether their objective is one as self-centered as a better career in the future or as magnanimous as success for the company, you can lead them in a direction that can benefit everyone. In the end, you will have a number of skilled, motivated, and loyal workers who can ensure the health of your organization for years to come.
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