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7 Secret Strategies for Retaining Millennial Employees

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Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Kayla Matthews. Her opinions are her own.

As millennials enter the workforce in droves, employers may find themselves relying on the younger, more educated generation to get their business ahead.

Unfortunately, millennials are a strong bunch, and they aren’t willing to settle for the most basic of amenities. They understand that the world is a tough place and they are willing to make it by any means necessary.

Oftentimes, millennial employees won’t entertain the notion of loyalty to their job, unafraid of speaking out or leaving due to mistreatment. Holding on to millennial employees shouldn’t be too difficult of a task, though. A new generation of the workforce means a big change has to come over the company, likely for the better since the consumer base is also likely to be millennials, too.

Here are seven reasons millennials are likely to leave a job, along with some tips on preventing them from leaving your company.

1. Career development

A lack of advancement and growth in the workplace is the number one reason people leave their jobs, according to exit interviews. In fact, 21% of respondents cited career development as the reason they were leaving. Even 70% of employees admitted they would leave their jobs to advance their career.

This harkens back to the lack of company loyalty mentioned before. If your business doesn’t allow room for advancement, employees will find another that will. Offering personal development plans and internal promotions can help, as well as creating target goals to show improvement over time. Simply recognizing accomplishments and rewarding them will go a long way.

2. Work environment

A lot could be said about company culture, but this is a concept that differs from business to business. The main focus every company should highly consider is the happiness of their employees. Weeding out problematic employees while keeping the environment safe and comfortable is key.

The environment itself — as in the way everything looks and feels — can do wonders for the mood of your employees. Having practical signs or artwork to display the company’s history are just a few ways the world around them can motivate employees to stick around. Of course, a drab place wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for most, but the look of an office building can bring down the mood of someone already having a hard time at work.

3. Compensation

Your employees know how much they put into the company. Millennials more than anyone don’t want to feel cheated. Getting on your feet in this economic landscape is hard enough without the knowledge that everyone is getting a pay rise except for them. These days, millennials want information like that to be transparent, so they expect benefits and rewards for the good work they do.

Monetary compensation is wonderful and what most people want, but some rewards should go beyond money. Recognition is the second best thing. Recognizing their achievements in front of others, especially at parties with people outside of the company, will give them a boost of happiness and confidence and also help their reputation.

4. The managers

Sometimes, things compound in the workplace that make an employee’s leaving difficult, complicated and a little heartbreaking. When their career seems at a standstill, the work environment is abysmal and compensation never comes, sometimes the problem is with an individual rather than the company. One manager who fails at their job will lose a lot of great employees that could have been great for the company.

There are a few ways to tell if your manager is doing a poor job, not the least of which is simply asking employees and holding performance reviews. Employees may describe the manager as incompetent, unprofessional, unfair, doesn’t have good communication or treats employees badly. Unaddressed problems with management will make employees feel trapped, and they’ll be scrambling to leave.

The first trick to fixing this problem includes hiring better managers or promoting from within. Creating a good manager from the start requires getting them involved with both higher ups and the employees they work with. Having managers coach their employees can build good relations on both sides and create an understanding. The second trick is hiring a great human-resources department that’ll fight for your employees’ safety and well-being before anything else.

5. Healthy work-life balance

Sometimes, due to the commute or the nature of the work, a work-life balance amongst the employees may be out of the company’s hands. There are ways a company can help, but a majority of the situation is just circumstance. Regardless, millennials value their time and want to spend a lot of it with those who matter most to them. Millennials will work hard, but if they think they’re being overworked, they’ll find somewhere else to go.

Companies can help manage the work-life balance by providing ways for employees to work remotely when applicable. Overtime may seem unavoidable sometimes, but encouraging employees to avoid work after hours can help. At the same time, if an employee feels they must get work done, leaving the option of overtime on the table is valuable so long as the company will compensate. Providing regular breaks during the daily routine and more holidays during the year can help employees feel at home with their employer.

6. Conduct ‘stay interviews’

Exit interviews have become common in most companies as an employee leaves to find out why they’re leaving. A stay interview is conducted with long-time employees to see why they’re staying. This valuable information can help your company find out where the best virtues are and where things need to grow.

Questions asked during these types of interviews should center on why they stay, as well as why they joined in the first place. Asking what would make them leave, how they get along with managers, aspects they would improve on in the company and some non-negotiable issues can also help. Consider the interview as a reverse performance review and be willing to take criticism or change things around for the benefit of your employees.

7. Gain and retain

Keeping Gen Z and millennials working for your company is one massive hurdle, but it can’t be done if they aren’t working for you in the first place. Opening the doors at all for new employees can be a tricky process, but if you want the young, educated crowd, then you’ll have to be willing to attract them. Having a good reputation is a start, but offering competitive wages and benefits can really get the ball rolling. At the same time, all the benefits in the world may not help if your company or organization has a poor reputation.

Just like consumers, employees care about the message their company sends to the public. Since they’re working for you, they’ll be the face of the company on a local level. Having controversial political views or involvement with internal scandals can create a rift when hiring season rolls around again. If you can convince millennials to join you, though, you can often convince them to stay. Meeting them halfway and putting in the work to show how much you value them can help your company significantly, both now and in the future.

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews, a professional development writer and productivity journalist, has written for publications such as The Muse, Information Age, VentureBeat, InformationWeek. If you'd like to read more by her, visit Productivity Theory or follow her on her social channels.

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