3 Unconventional Ways to Retain Millennials

I’ve seen it more times than I can count; a talented millennial who has potential in spades, walking out on a perfectly good job, looking for greener pastures in other organizations. The company lets them loose in spite of their aptitude for success and misses out on someone who could help bring new life and energy into the business. The statistics are pretty well documented.   Millennials now make up the highest percentage of the work force and two-thirds of them expect to be in different jobs within 4 years of starting employment. The current turnover average in America is nearly 14% and it costs a company a year’s salary to replace a lower level employee, and 2-3 years salary to replace a senior employee.

The question is, who is to blame for these costly turnover rates? Some would argue it’s the entitled millennial; others task organizations with staying ahead of the times in order to hold onto young prodigies. Or should we all just live with the fact that turnover is going to be higher from this point forward?

I come from the camp that believes both millennials and organizations are at fault. Settling for a generation of job hoppers isn’t something we should be willing to do. While I can write for days about what young professionals should do to help solve this problem, I want to focus on organizations and the people who can control the turnover problem…their leaders.

“People leave their manager; they don’t leave their company”- John Stumpt

Sub manager for leader, and you get your answer. It’s a leader’s job to retain, engage, educate, and empower.

There is a theory that relates to human behavior that has been used for decades (long before millennials arrived on the scene) known as the 10%-80%-10% principle. It’s simple; 10 percent of workforces are elite performers who give it all they have, all the time. 80 percent of employees are the nucleus; great workers who don’t quite have the drive or determination to be an elite performer by themselves. And finally, the bottom 10%; a group that is uninterested or defiant, and they won’t have the drive regardless of what happens to them.

Every generation is made up of people who feel they are entitled to the best jobs and those on the other end of the spectrum that just don’t get it. Perhaps this millennial generation tilts toward 7%-83%-10%, but either way, they also have plenty of elite performers that will help organizations navigate this quickly-changing business market.

It’s a leader’s job to bring more millennials (or the 83%) into the world of elite performers. The organizations that do this will win, and they will win for a long time.

Here are 3 Unconventional ideas for organizations to try to retain millennials:

  1. Train: When I say train, I don’t mean equip them with company, product, or basic onboarding knowledge. That is table stakes. I am talking about developing them beyond company assigned training. Invest in them outside the normal company curriculum; such as online learning courses, conferences, local in person workshops, keynote speakers, etc. This probably is the easiest thing to do because most millennials are eager to improve their skills and they can probably tell you where they would like help or development. Regardless of the amount, what counts is millennials will remember and be loyal when they feel you have their best interests in mind.
  2. Empower: Take your micromanaging shoes off and put on a pair of empowerment shoes. Give the opportunity regardless of how big or small to be involved in decisions, projects or brainstorming sessions. This millennial generation is capable of a lot and by empowering them you will get less entitlement and more proactive work.
  3. Make them compete: Good old fashion competition brings out the best in people. Find ways to pit young professionals against each other for short periods of time with money, time off, gift cards, or other items going to the winner. It could be as simple as a one day contest or as complicated as year long content but the point is to get them competing. Not only will they respond they will love it, and look forward to the next challenge.

My hope is that more leaders in organizations will take ownership of their millennial turnover problem. Why, you ask? Because talent and new innovative ideas are what is going to carry businesses forward and I believe this Millennial generation has them they just need their leaders to help bring it out of them and get them into that top 10%.

Getting Leadership Ready. LearnLoft’s out of the box training approach to helping young professionals understand what leadership is all about and helping them get noticed as a potential company leader.  Find out more here.

 

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