GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: Authored by Lisa Orrell. Orrell is known globally as The Generation Relations Expert. She is the author of the top-selling books Millennials Incorporated and Millennials into Leadership. In the first of a three-part series, Orrell discusses not only how to better manage and retain your Millennial talent, but also how to groom them to be effective leaders.
Why do companies – large and small – spend so much time worrying about how to retain Millennials (a.k.a. Gen Y)? It’s basically a matter of math.
According to the Employment Policy Foundation (EPF), our country is at the beginning of a labor shortage of approximately 35 million skilled and educated workers, which is estimated to continue over the next two decades – especially now that Baby Boomers are starting to retire at an estimated rate of 1 every 8 seconds.
Out of necessity, Millennials – many of whom may only have one to three years of career experience – are moving into management roles much sooner (and younger!) than the generations before them did – and are expected to perform in these roles successfully.
While it’s entirely possible to groom this next generation of professionals to be effective leaders, you must first be able to retain them (otherwise, grooming them for leadership won’t even matter!). For the first of this three-part series, I’d like to share six effective tips to help employers and managers effectively retain Millennial talent.
6 Ways to Retain Your Gen Y Employees:
- Constant Contact: A recent survey of over 1,000 Millennials showed that over 60 percent of them want to hear from their managers at least once a day. That message is pretty clear: They want to communicate with you often so make it happen or they will leave! Unfortunately many older generations tend to operate differently. Oftentimes, they have a hands-off approach to management, but this style clearly does not work well with Millennials.
- Praise Culture: We all need praise from our employers, but Millennials tend to need it more often than older generations. If they are not feeling “valued” on a regular basis, they will leave. So many well-known companies are shifting to a “praise culture” to retain them…and it improves retention of their older employees, too! Get creative and have fun with this. I know of one company that actually appointed a “celebrations assistant” in their office and one of her tasks is to throw confetti on employees (in their cubes or offices) whenever a manager tells her an employee had done something exceptional. I realize this strategy may sound a bit extreme to you, but this company is obviously seeing an ROI (or the confetti wouldn’t be happening).
- Rapid Advancement Alternatives:Millennials feel that “paying their dues” is just occupying space for no good reason. So if a Millennial employee is truly qualified for a promotion, many companies now offer it to them versus giving the position to someone who has simply been at the company longer. But what if they’re not qualified to move up the ladder yet and getting antsy? Find creative ways to give them more responsibility, such as letting them do one or more of the following:
- Start, or write for, the company blog
- Set-up, or participate in, your company Fan Page on Facebook or other social media presence
- Contribute to the company e-newsletter
- Research and set-up a new software solution that improves productivity for your company (or department).
You don’t always have to give them a raise or promotion to keep them happy; being creative with increased responsibility can work great! Millennials have fast minds and get bored quickly, but it’s your job as their employer to help eliminate the “boredom” factor.
- Cubicle Shackles: Millennials have a very hard time understanding why they need to sit in a cubicle 8-10 hours a day. They want the flexibility to work anytime, from anywhere, and many companies are revamping their policies to provide more flexibility, using flex time as a “perk” to attract Millennials to their workforce. The upside? Employees from all generations respond favorably to this flexibility and employers actually find that most employees become more productive…and tend to put in longer hours!
- Mentor Programs: This is key! Millennials have grown up with a lot of guidance from their parents, society and teachers. Now, they expect this type of handholding at work. So, heed this advice! If your company, large or small, doesn’t offer a formal (or informal) mentorship program, create one. I recently spoke with three Millennials who actually quit their jobs within one year because their employers had promised mentorship, but never delivered. Mentorship truly means that much to them.
- Leadership Training: There is a resurgence of Leadership & Management training programs happening because the Millennials want it, need it and are demanding it. In the past year, my Millennial Business Boot Camp and Get a Grip on Leadership workshops have become, hands down, my most requested presentations – that’s how important leadership training has become. Unfortunately, MANY companies still do not offer these types of programs, much to their own detriment. It’s only a matter of time before their Millennial employees leave to pursue organizations that do offer these programs.
Finally, it’s important to remember that Millennials’ wants and needs aren’t much different from those of older generations; they just have a lower tolerance threshold than generations before them. A Boomer may put up with a job for five years even if he or she is bored or doesn’t feel valued, but a Millennial may only tolerate it for five months…or until the current job market improves.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be posting parts two and three of this series, to address tips and best practices for preparing Millennials to be successful leaders in your organization.
For more information about Lisa Orrell, visit: www.TheOrrellGroup.com.