The Key to Engaging and Retaining Millennial Employees

Because of their tendency to change jobs more readily than other generations, millennial workers have gained the reputation as being the generation of job hoppers. Employers can view the difficulty in retaining millennial workers in one of two ways: as a fundamental loss, or as an opportunity. Millennials now represent the largest generation in the United States, and given their higher willingness to change jobs, they are constantly in the market for a new work environment. The question your organization ought to be asking itself is: How do we take our knowledge of what millennials look for in a job and use it to our advantage to hire and retain more skilled millennial workers than our competitors?

In order to make your organization more competitive in terms of hiring and retaining millennial employees, it is important to understand what motivates them. At their current stage of life, most millennials view their current roles as opportunities for growth or stepping stones toward a more advanced, perhaps managerial, role. A recent Gallup report titled “How Millennials Want to Work and Live” shows that opportunities to learn and grow in their roles is the single-most important attribute that millennials look for in a job. Despite millennial workers ranking development opportunities first amongst attributes of a potential employer, the Gallup report found that only 39% strongly agreed that they had learned something new in the past 30 days that they could use to do their jobs better. Even more, only one third believed that their last training was “worth their time.”

All of this goes to show that millennials want managers and companies who are willing to invest in their futures. Across generations, the end goals of any careers is long-term mutual prosperity between employers and their employees, and millennials are no exception. The key distinguishing factor, though, is that millennial workers view opportunities to progress as being central to this idea of long-term prosperity. In other words, an employer who is not invested in my development is likely not invested in my future.

So how do you establish a culture of learning and development in your company that appeals to millennial workers? One of the simplest ways to begin making this cultural shift is encouraging your managers and team leaders to give regular, thoughtful feedback to their employees. Despite regular feedback’s proven effectiveness in developing higher-skilled employees, polls show that only 17% of millennial employees say they are receiving meaningful feedback from their managers. Feedback combined with clarity of expectations (i.e. showing clear standards of what it takes to build professional skills) is the basis of building a culture of continuous development.

Overall, creating a culture of learning and development in your organization that is attractive to millennial workers comes down to two questions: How can you give the right levels of mentorship and autonomy to your employees to progress in their roles and careers? And, how can you provide your employees with sufficient resources and opportunities to develop new skills and explore other roles?