July 24, 2017

4 Ways to Keep Your Millennial Employees Engaged

By Courtney Rice, Partner, Banking

We all want the same thing – a rewarding job filled with opportunities for growth and career development. Although these younger employees has been increasingly dissected and analyzed, perhaps the most overlooked aspect of their generation is that they do indeed value stability, contrary to the stereotype.

Having grown up in a sluggish economy and dealt with profound challenges from student debt to limited job opportunities, millennials have had to adapt to a marketplace unlike any generation before them. Instead of starting in entry-level positions aligned with their dream careers, many of them have had to be content with jobs that allow them to at least get started. For employers, retaining this new generation of talented employees as they advance in their careers requires a thoughtful and deliberate attempt to connect with them in meaningful ways.

1:Address Misconceptions About Millennials

Many employers think of millennials as not being as loyal as previous generations: they’re happy to leave after a year or two to secure a better salary or more impressive job title. Adding to this is that they’re constantly exposed to new job opportunities via digital technologies and social media — applying to new jobs is easier than ever. However, the truth is that millennials aren’t any more opportunistic than previous generations; it’s actually very smart to prioritize decisions that advance your career, and if other generations had began working in the same economic circumstances, they would likely have behaved in similar ways. If employers want younger employees to stay at their company, they must accept that loyalty is a reciprocal relationship, and that the millennial mindset is human nature at work.

2: Understand Millennial Time

As technology continues to blur the lines that separate our personal and professional lives, millennials feel increasingly comfortable working in a highly connected culture where people are always reachable. Work-life balance no longer means keeping private time separate from working hours; now, it’s about integrating both into a seamless, flexible lifestyle. More and more companies these days are allowing for the flexibility to work remotely and take time off in the middle of the day for that hot yoga class or cup of coffee with a friend, and in return they get an employee who very often responds to emails instantly and who chooses to work on that presentation in the middle of the night when they’re at their best. Time is still money, but the relationship between time and money is no longer constrained by traditional nine-to-five schedules and working paradigms.

3: Make an Effort to Align Values

Money is one representation of value, but for millennials, there are lots of other factors. Unlike previous generations, they display a more holistic approach to professional happiness, where contentment is defined not only by progressive salary and job title advancements, but also by feelings of fulfillment and belonging. Even more so than previous generations, millennials see their personal quality of life as being connected to the greater community; as such, helping them feel like valuable community members (at work and in society) is essential to ensure that they do their best work. So grab your team and set up a volunteer opportunity or public outreach programs that can benefit the entire team.

4: Grow Together as a Team

Millennials crave responsibility because they know that experience is the key to professional advancement. To retain younger employees, employers must devise in-house strategies that help them learn and achieve more through a variety of experiences. For example, as a component of the employee orientation process, pair less-experienced millennials with a mentor at the company – someone other than their boss who is older, more experienced, and working in a relevant role. Mentors can provide non-judgmental guidance and advice for younger employees.

Employers should also give them leadership opportunities whenever possible, even if they aren’t the most senior person on a team. Nothing builds loyalty more than an overt demonstration of faith and trust in someone’s talents and abilities. We are all eager to prove ourselves and companies that reward ambition and empower professional development be rewarded in the long term.