This is the fourth in a five part series on Millennials in the workplace.
It’s really quite simple: retaining great employees saves you money. Replacing someone can cost anywhere from 20 to 200% of that person’s salary, depending which study you’ve read and the person’s role in the organization. Leaders know a low turnover rate is ideal for their company’s health. Industry and departmental changes aside (for example, Netflix changing from a company that shipped DVDs to one that streamed digital content), the lower your turnover, the better your organization’s knowledge retention, employee happiness, branding, and profitability.
So how do you go about retaining Millennials who have a reputation as job hoppers and not staying anywhere more than two years?
First, let’s dispel that myth. There’s no concrete evidence to suggest Gen Y is any more or less likely to leave their jobs sooner than other generations[i]. That being said, evidence suggests Millennials are less committed to their jobs than previous generations[ii]. While I don’t always agree with the reasons these studies cite, I do agree this youngest generation is the least engaged in a generally unengaged workforce.
At the end of the day, if you engage Gen Y, you’ll retain them. Assuming you’ve attracted and motivated them adequately, what are the keys to keeping them on board?
- Embrace innovation
I feel this can’t be emphasized enough when it comes to keeping the youngest generation around longer than two years. Whether innovation is through technology or how you do business, embracing change and innovation is vital to retaining Gen Y. These “digital natives” simply won’t understand your reluctance to do so; they’ll feel your company is outdated if it isn’t continuously moving forward.
- Challenge them
While enjoying challenge isn’t exclusive to any one generation, the Millennials see it as a requirement. If you want to keep them around longer than average, you’ll have to find new ways to challenge them and pique their curiosity. And taking advantage of their fresh perspective might even earn you some unexpected wins!
- Coaching and Mentoring
More than previous generations, Gen Y understands the value of coaching and mentoring relationships, and their resulting partnerships. While I always recommend formal coaching and mentoring programs for organizations, even an informal one will help you take the right steps to retaining Millennial employees.
- Create partnerships
A vital component to creating brand or organizational loyalty with Millennials is co-creating the value they see in it. This concept has been talked about in marketing but, when it comes to Millennials, it’s just as important in an organizational capacity. If you allow Gen Y to be a partner in their experience with your company (let them have input, give them control, allow them to customize) you’ll have much more loyal employees.
- Help them contribute
Contributing, especially to the greater good, is one of the key distinguishing characteristics of Gen Y. If they feel they’re contributing to something beyond the bottom line, you’ll have created the right milieu for top-performing employees. And if your organization has clear policies on charitable contributions that align with employees’ belief systems, even better!
- Employee experience
Your employee experience is so much more than a paycheque, signing agreements, or interactions with a manager or HR department. If you want to retain Gen Y, you have to start treating their employee experience as a process in and of itself from their first interest in the job to their last day at work (and becoming a potential customer).
Once you’ve created a culture that’s appealing to the next generation of leaders, you’ll be in an ideal position to grow your leadership pipeline and set yourself up for future success.
Be sure to read the final post in this series, Millennials as Leaders.