millennial workforce

The Millennial Workforce: How to retain those born between 1981 and 2000?

Back in the day, or at least back in my day, working at a Fortune 500 company for 15-20 consecutive years was considered a major accomplishment and a work-badge that people proudly wore. The job represented a college graduate’s fresh beginning after completing a long, educational journey. Everything endured during those years of schooling – the tears, the sleepless nights and the grind, will now pay themselves forward – or so we thought. What about the millennial workforce? Do they feel the same today as we did back then?

Many sought corporate employment or work for large business-enterprises. Climbing the corporate ladder, adding notches to the proverbial belt, working with the best-of-the-best and maintaining success amongst one’s peers are general aspirations for anyone looking to success in corporate America. So, why does it seem like large numbers of ambitious, driven and motivated millennials are disgruntled with the traditional workforce path? Are they still interested in the corporate journey? Yes, they are interested, but, just as you or I wanted back when we were 20 and 30-years-old, they too want to do it their way.

The Millennial Workforce

Things have surely changed since the dawn of the 21st Century. We live in the Knowledge Age and millennial workers expect more. According to CNN Money, the class of 2015 doesn’t just want, to have fun, be challenged at work, secure employment with flexible hours and be presented with opportunities for advancement. They expect it.

For today’s millennial workforce, it’s not just important to have a job that pays a decent salary or hourly wage. Millennials want to have jobs that they like and that like them back. While the 2015 Forbes list of 30 Under 30 showcases a host of young entrepreneurs who’ve paved their own individual paths to success, those on the list have a few things in common:  64% want to change the world and 50% define success as ‘Liking myself and what I do.’

So how does all of this background information help business owners and corporations alike, retain a millennial workforce?

5 Retention Tips

Here are five ways to retain competent, caring and committed millennials on your team.  By the year 2020, millennials will comprise nearly 70% of the eligible workforce. So, start working now to secure your firm’s future.

  1. Create a healthy work environment. Millennials look for career opportunities that allow them to support healthy lifestyles. Have meetings in the park. Encourage fresh-air breaks. A work environment that promotes mental wellness is definitely attractive to millennials.
  1. Recognize contributions. Salary increases, recognition and internal promotions are important for retention. Asghar’s Forbes article states that millennials only value work that creates the results, the acknowledgement or growth they desire. They don’t need trophies, but they want reinforcement.
  1. Encourage social responsibility. Millennials are leading the workplace in making positive social impact both at their jobs and in their communities. They often seek positions that combine personal passion with income potential. Companies whose leadership encourages corporate and community-based, social-responsibility programs are goldmines for millennials.
  1. Be fully inclusive. A recent study from Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative found that millennials value the blending of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives while at work. This “cognitive diversity” leads to strong teamwork for this generation.  In fact, 83% of millennials actively engage at work when they believe their organization fosters an inclusive culture. Yet only 60% actively engage in organizations that they do not believe encourage inclusiveness.  Additionally, millennials view cognitive diversity as a necessary element for innovation. Seventy-one percent are more likely to focus on teamwork when it exists.
  1. Support individual expression. Millennials pride themselves on their uniqueness and believe that their strong self-expression brings value to business outcomes and impact. Being able to maintain their opinions (within reason), showcase their creativity on special projects and work outside of the box are traits that the millennial workforce values.

Get on Board!

According to the Pew Center for Research, millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. So get on board. “In order to be fully engaged, millennials require supportive leadership and a supportive culture. This can be found in collaborative environments where employees see the impact of their work, understand the value they bring to the organization and are recognized for their efforts. Leaders believe in openness and transparency and demonstrate that a cognitively diverse team is better for business.”

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