“I work to live.” You’ve probably heard that phrase uttered among millennials you know. For this generation, working is a means to be able to live the lifestyle they want, which means, they will move to the job that supports their lifestyle.
Big jobs and big pay are lesser priorities for many in this generation. In one of my recent training workshops, a couple of the millennials reiterated that point, noting that they are more concerned with quality of life, having the time to spend with family, friends, and other interests. So, if the balance is not working well for them, many may be inclined to look elsewhere.
Millennials also seek a variety of experiences. Rather than stay with the same company, basically doing the same kind of work, they seek new experiences in a new environment. They seek experiences that align with their interests, and keep their day-to-day fresh and interesting. They sometimes see these moves as helping them get to these new experiences much faster than ‘doing their time’ in one company.
Retaining millennial talent is one of the toughest challenges companies face. With the more frequent mobility of this generation, it seems companies are constantly hiring to fill the gaps in not only their broader workforce, but more importantly in their leadership pipeline. With this revolving door like culture, companies risk growing a talent base that knows the business and is prepared to grow the company in the future.
Many companies try to address this challenge haphazardly, trying one thing here and another thing there, in an attempt to see what sticks. Their results are about as good as their approach – disappointing.
Following are 7 steps you can take now to make your workplace one where Millennial employees can say they ‘like to work and feel valued.”
- Connect employees to your purpose – What does your organization stand for? Is your purpose to authentically serve customers or is more focus given to serving the bottom line, at all costs? Ensure your mission and values authentically connect to serving customers, and that employees have an understanding of the importance of their role in fulfilling your purpose.
- Develop flexible work options – Millennials demand more flexibility in their work options. Work/life balance is important for a number of reasons. In addition to family responsibilities, millennials tend to be very engaged in serving their communities. Their familiarity with technology also creates an expectation that they can and should be trusted to connect from anywhere. Be creative in designing options that provide reasonable flexibility in work hours and work location, while honoring the needs of both the business and your employees.
- Provide tools to help employees work more productively – The most important expectation from your employees is that they get the job done and take care of customers. Expecting employees to work extended hours or to be connected on their personal time does not mean that more work is getting done. Provide tools to help employees work smarter when they’re on the clock. Beef up your technology. Get rid of the bureaucracy by eliminating procedures and policies that slow things down.
- Create a ‘community’ environment – Though millennials are tied closely to their technology, they are very social beings. They thrive in an environment where they can connect on a more personal level with people across the organization. Create an environment where informal connections can occur, and where teams can work more collaboratively.
- Offer opportunities to develop and grow – Millennials are motivated by new experiences that keep their work interesting and help them develop new skills. Offer professional development programs for employees at all levels of the company. Encourage formal and informal mentoring partnerships. And, develop a structure for career progression that balances being in a role long enough to gain solid experience and make an impact, without employees feeling ‘stuck’.
- Provide opportunities to give back – Companies that have a social conscience and are engaged in giving back in their communities tend to get more respect from millennials. Offer a variety of opportunities for employees to get involved on your behalf, either through company sponsored service events, or on an individual level.
- Lead authentically – Creating a culture where employees are inspired to commit requires authentic leadership. Truly care for your employees’ well-being so that partnerships are formed at all levels of the organization in building a culture where ‘employees like to work and feel valued.’
Though millennials are not likely to work for your company for the next 20 years, these strategies will help you influence their loyalty and improve your overall retention. Involve millennials in generating ideas to customize these strategies for the talent currently within your organization and for the talent you’re looking to attract. The investment in these ideas is small compared to the benefits you’ll experience as a result.
Feel free to contact me with any questions or to schedule a free, no obligation talent management strategy session, or individual career coaching strategy session, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Career Empowerment Coach
Author: FuelForward: Discover Proven Practices to Fuel Your Career Forward
Contributing Author: Find Your Fit: A Practical Guide to Landing a Job You’ll Love (published by Association for Talent Development)
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