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How to Retain Millennial Workers

Maddie Ballard

Hiring recent graduates is a great move for any company.

Not only do they bring new ideas and energy to a business, they’re generally keen to learn, excited about the working world and (initially) a lower-cost hire.

But nowadays, recent graduates are millennials – and millennials tend to job-hop. A 2018 survey by Deloitte shows that an astonishing 43% of millennials and 61% of Generation Z members plan to quit their current job within two years.

So what can you do to retain young talent? We have some suggestions.

Understand the reasons for job-hopping

Firstly, it pays to understand why millennials (and Gen Z-ers) job-hop. There are a number of factors:

  • Job-hopping can boost careers. By changing into progressively more senior positions at different companies, millennials can work their way up the corporate ladder – and payscale – more quickly than previous generations. They can also develop a broad set of experience and skills, which in turn makes them more employable.
  • Job-hopping offers millennials greater fulfilment. Research indicates that millennials are more interested in doing stimulating work in a workplace with a positive culture and feeling that their work is appreciated than securing job stability. Job-hopping allows them to sample lots of different work and workplaces in pursuit of that fulfilment.
  • Job-hopping embraces economic instability. Millennials grew up as the gig economy was developing. As a result, they’re less wedded to the idea of a job for life than their parents might have been.
  • Millennials care about their companies’ values far more than previous generations. A major 2012 survey found that 74% of university students – soon-to-be millennial graduates – considered it essential or very important to work for a company whose ‘values are like my own’. Millennials are far more likely to job-hop in pursuit of companies that prioritise values like environmental sustainability, social responsibility and innovation.

Develop solutions

Job-hopping is widespread. But research shows that the majority of millennials would prefer to change jobs only infrequently: job-hopping is a means to find a fulfilling job, not something millennials enjoy in itself.

The question you need to ask is therefore, ‘how do I make millennials’ jobs so fulfilling they don’t want to leave?’

We suggest the following solutions:

Make your workplace culture more ‘fun and social’
The research indicates that millennials care greatly about a positive workplace culture and work-life balance. In particular, recent data collected by PGI shows that 71% of millennials want their colleagues to be a ‘second family’, 88% want a ‘fun and social work environment’ and 89% believe that work-life balance is key.

In short, it makes sense to consider how you could make the workplace more appealing to young employees! For example, you could consider introducing the following initiatives to up their engagement and fulfilment:

  • Regular team meals. Have everyone eat lunch together on Fridays, or plan a monthly cream tea for the team, or organise potlucks for birthdays.
  • Team retreats. Perhaps out of the reach of wifi, for ultimate team bonding!
  • Feedback meetings. Put a regular feedback session in place, where employees can share comments, critiques and questions about the company.
  • Professional perks. When possible, offer access to professional development courses and other career-boosting opportunities.
  • Lunch and learn sessions. Have team members present on something non-work-related that they’re passionate about, over lunch.

Prioritise self-care and mental health awareness
Millennials are also more concerned with mental health awareness at work than previous generations. A recent survey shows that 28% of millennials feel frequent or constant burnout and 45% ‘sometimes’ feel burned out at work. Naturally, feeling this way makes millennial workers much more likely to take sick days (costing your company productivity) or leave their current job.

To retain your millennial staff, it makes sense to put some mental health initiatives in place, such as:

  • Offering flexible hours or remote working options. Having the option to start at 10am or work from home can really take the pressure off and make workers feel like they have more control.
  • Setting up clear work/life boundaries. For example, try and make lunch a real ‘break’ time away from the desk, or discourage staff from answering emails outside of working hours unless absolutely critical.
  • Providing mentors. Matching millennials with more experienced staff members can help them cope with work stress and get personal advice on work-related problems.
  • Professional perks. When possible, offer access to professional development courses and other career-boosting opportunities.
  • Implementing ‘wellness’ initiatives. For example, you could offer weekly yoga sessions, practise mindfulness as an office each morning, get into walking meetings or fill your workspace with plants.

Match your company’s values to millennial values
As we’ve seen, it’s important to millennials to work for companies that share their values – from environmental sustainability to social media savviness. Raising the profile of such values in your company will help keep millennial workers on board, and as a plus, ‘millennial values’ often enhance a business’s profile more generally. You could impress employees and industry experts by implementing small changes such as:

  • Greening your office. Encourage packed lunches, change from incandescent to LED lightbulbs, set up a cycle-to-work scheme or go paperless. You could also set up an office ‘green’ rep!
  • Taking on social responsibility. Invest some of your company’s profits in a community initiative, back a charity or incentivise workers to take up volunteering.

Listen to your workers
Because millennials put such an emphasis on feeling stimulated and appreciated at work, we suggest physically sitting down with them to ask what they’d like to see in your company. While we’re not suggesting you oblige every request, you might be surprised by what they come up with and how achievable it is. Plus, even if you can’t implement change immediately, listening to your workers will make them feel valued and important, deepening their loyalty to your company.

Embrace the challenge

Hiring millennial talent is unavoidable – and invaluable – for twenty-first century businesses. Retaining that talent, as we’ve seen, can be tricky. But it’s certainly not impossible.

Ultimately, we recommend seeing the job-hopping trend as a useful challenge, not a threat. By paying attention to what millennials actually want from their jobs – by looking for ways to discourage job-hopping – you can not only build millennial loyalty but also reinvigorate your company culture. Win-win!