Leadership & Management

11 minute read

Millennial Employee Retention: 5 Best Strategies to Win Them Over

Erika Rykun

Erika Rykun

Many companies find that millennial employee retention is a difficult task. In fact, according to Gallup, 60% of millennials in the workforce are open to a new job opportunity right now.

We took a deeper look at why millennials might be disengaged at work and learned how companies could improve their attraction and retention strategies to appeal to this generation taking over the workforce.

Who are millennials and what sets them apart?

Millennials are often defined as the generation that was born between 1981 and 1996. This means they are now adults between 23 and 40, and according to recent studies, they make up the largest segment in the workplace.

By 2030, millennials are expected to cover around 75% of the entire workforce in the US, with newer cohorts like Generation Z following behind. 

One key aspect that defines millennials is that they grew up with new technologies that have taken over our daily lives, like the internet.

If older generations were already adults when the first computer was invented, young adults nowadays can’t imagine a time when the internet was not readily available or when phones didn’t have apps.


What shaped millennials views on work?

With millennials, the generational gap that usually happens was accentuated by the technological boom. This shaped their view on life and work but also allowed them to gather an impressive set of skills.

As such, millennials are tech-savvy, creative, adaptable, bold, and insightful. But they also put more focus on their mental health and personal life than older generations do. In fact, millennials were actually the first to put emphasis on the need for a better work-life balance.

Furthermore, according to the 2019 Deloitte Millennial Survey, younger generations are disillusioned by the current political situation of the world and find that most companies are motivated by greed and profits.

Millennials’ focus is on making society better, and are happy to invest their money and time in companies that have a positive impact. These are the people that will not hesitate to cut ties with a brand if they disagree with the business practices behind it. Millennials will likely not stand behind a fashion or tech company that uses child labor in disadvantaged countries, and they will not turn a blind eye to disloyal practices.

This is a generation that has been shaped by disruptions, so it is natural that they can’t find their place in the current setting. In many cases, their lack of motivation often stems from the fact that they don’t feel valued and fulfilled in the current business environment.

Millennial employee retention strategies that work

It is clear by now that the new working class needs a different approach. Now, companies can keep doing what they’re doing, and make fun of the new generation, or they can buckle up and work towards a brighter future.

If you decide on the first one, millennials won’t be too affected as they have entrepreneurship to fall on to. But your organization will suffer most of the consequences as it will be labeled as inflexible and difficult.

So, if you decide on changing your approach, have a look at some of the retention strategies that will keep young people working for you.

1.  Increase their engagement with the company

The main reason behind millennials hopping from one job opportunity to another comes from a lack of engagement with the company they are currently with.

Now, the standard approach in this situation comes with a package of measures that include higher pay and maybe some entertainment at work (games, free food, nap pods). But millennials aren’t that easy to entice.

The modern employee wants to feel valued by the company and needs to be actively involved in projects that matter. For this, effective communication is the number one factor, but also the step where many companies fail to deliver.

According to a recent study by Cornerstone OnDemand, young employees are more motivated by opportunities that help them feel fulfilled and provide purpose than they are about financial gain or a more resounding position. As a result, millennials are more likely to change jobs in a lateral move than they are vertical, which can seem anticlimactic for baby boomers.

What to do

The good news is that the same Cornerstone OnDemand study shows that people will favor an internal lateral career change before they start looking for other companies. So, by improving communication (especially with the immediate supervisor) and paying attention to any shifts in behavior, you have the chance to keep people engaged.

Regardless of size, organizations must work on improving communication with their people, and they should start by updating their corporate culture. Focus on making employees feel valued and appreciated and try to offer fulfilling job positions that are not just about financial gain.

Millennials are in the pursuit of happiness, and they won’t stop until they succeed!


2.    Invest in their professional development

Millennials don’t just see a job, they see an opportunity to grow and hone new skills. A recent PwC survey learned that the current workforce is more motivated by personal and professional growth than they are by earning more money. 

Of course, no one is going to be upset about a pay rise, but this is a short-term solution. To increase loyalty and create a connection, it’s best to help develop their skillset, even when it’s not for a specific project. Don’t underestimate the power of professional onboarding either. Studies show that up to 40% of employees who have received bad training resign from their jobs within the first year.

What to do

Offer workshops and challenging projects that help employees learn new things and develop their skills and learning retention. Also, make sure they have the necessary support to participate in these courses (dedicated time to learn, for instance) and help them integrate the knowledge in their daily activities.

If you can’t offer time off for learning, you can choose to invest in bite-sized online courses that can be spread out throughout the day. This will break the routine and keep employees interested in their work.

3.    Give them the right tools

We need to remember that young adults grew up with technology. They are tech-savvy and understand communication using devices at a whole different level. So, there’s no wonder that a study performed by Dell found that 45% of millennials would leave a company for offering sub-standard technology.

They understand the power of modern technology and don’t want to be slowed down by trivial things such as low memory or ancient laptops.

Furthermore, these are people who like flexibility when it comes to the workplace. As such, most millennials will go to a company that promotes working remotely and allows them to choose their own working hours and focus on goal accomplishment.

What to do

Technological advancements are not just for the young! Modern tools, both hardware and software, come with lots of perks for the company, so you shouldn’t stick with an old system just because it still (barely) works.

In an era where we can get AI-assisted recruitment, it is backward thinking for employees to work using outdated systems.

You should also revisit your policy regarding remote workers engagement. It may seem scary, especially if your organization is new to these concepts, but these are amazing incentives for millennials.

4.    Get involved in the community and support diversity

When was the last time your organization got involved in a charitable event or supported the local community? And we’re not just talking about donations.

Millennials understand the power of giving back to the community, and social causes are important to them. So, if you truly want to make them feel at home in your company, you should consider supporting local charitable causes.

There are several studies that show people who work for companies that collaborate with charities and support local initiatives feel like they make a difference. Diversity at work is another important aspect that is highly appreciated by millennials as 69% of such employees find their workplace supportive and engaging if their company favors diversity

What to do

While big companies can afford to be involved in tackling important issues such as climate change or the fight against poverty, small businesses also have a chance to show compassion. This might be by organizing a food drive for the holidays, or by being actively involved in recycling and energy consumption reduction. Providing diversity-friendly policies is another way to improve too, like flexible working hours and on-site childcare. 


5.    Support work-life balance

The new generation of employees has no interest in spending their entire life in an office! They put value on their personal life and want the possibility to work from home to spend time with family and friends.

But companies need to do more than just consider investing in an advanced video conferencing system that will allow everyone to participate in meetings regardless of location. You should consider educating employees about the importance of work-life balance and keep an eye out for burnout symptoms.

High-achievers need to feel valued and fulfilled, but they may have a difficult time recognizing a lack of work-life balance. And when they do, they may already be thinking about changing jobs.

What to do

Be open-minded about flexible hours. As long as your employees are doing their job and all the goals are met, there’s no need to impose a fixed work schedule. Also, encourage the ‘work smarter, not harder’ paradigm by teaching your employees to be efficient and look for smart solutions to complicated situations. Also, invest in your project managers. Being able to handle a remote or flexible team is challenging, but you can always help your managers improve their project management skills

Wrap up

In conclusion, millennial employees come with a fresh mindset where they focus more on personal growth and healthy development of skills. They value fulfillment and want to make a change in the world that will lead to a better society and future.

As you can see, not all of the negative stereotypes you’ve heard about millennials are true. They are just young adults trying to figure out how to live life according to their values and principles. So, any companies that want their help and loyalty will have to implement a different approach to employment and work.  

One surefire way your organization can help both managers and millennial employees is through training.

The GoSkills LMS offers user-friendly, easy to deploy online training in just a matter of clicks. Choose from a range of topics in our award-winning course library, including essential skills like leadership, project management and office productivity that can help keep millennial employees engaged and productive every day of the week. 

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Erika Rykun

Erika Rykun

Erika is an independent copywriter and content creator with a passion for running and reading.