Employee retention is a concern for every business, but you can't approach it the same way for each generation – what works for baby boomers and Gen Xers might not work for millennials. And with so many millennials in the workplace, it's important to understand their wants and needs as your workers.
This is a concern that comes up often in the Business.com community. Lexi Chung, design director at Standard & Custom, asked: "How can I keep the millennials working for my company more than a year or two?"
We outlined four ways to do just that.
1. Be flexible
Flexibility is a common expectation for workers today, especially among millennials. Much more work can be done remotely than it could just a few years ago, and it's crucial that employers adapt to these adjustments.
"Some millennials' desire for interesting experiences might prompt them to want to work different hours or from different countries," said S. Chris Edmonds, founder of The Purposeful Culture Group. "How can you adapt your work culture to support that desire?"
2. Provide a purpose
Millennials want to feel valued. Their idea of a reward is more emotional than monetary. If they don't believe their role serves a meaningful purpose, then they won't feel motivated to do their best work.
"Every employee … wants to know their efforts and accomplishments are contributing to the organization's success and are contributing to the betterment of society," said Edmonds.
Every job is important; and sometimes, you need to convince your employees of that. Tell them why they are valued by your company and the community, and express your gratitude often. This will increase engagement across the board.
"If you can keep [an] employee engaged and align the company objectives with the employee's career goals, you have a great chance for the employee to stick around," said Chris Herbert, Business.com community member and sales professional recruiter at Prime Time Recruiting Services Inc. "It is not always about the money."
3. Develop a strong employee-boss relationship
Millennials respond better to those they connect with. As a leader, you need to create a strong professional relationship with your employees so they feel more accountable for their work.
Creating a healthy employee-boss relationship is simple: You just have to care. Be yourself and treat your workers like they matter.
"Great bosses are generous, supportive, inspiring, firm, consistent and fair," said Edmonds. "When employees see that in their direct boss, they solve problems independently, they cooperate to wow customers, and work to ensure commitments are made."
Edmonds noted that it's crucial to prioritize communication with your workers, and invest time and energy into being available. You can do this by wandering around the workplace, engaging in small talk and addressing any employee concerns.
"Transparency is vitally important," he added. "Sharing what's going well, what's not going well, what's coming down the pike, etc., increases employee trust and respect."
4. Create a positive culture
A positive company culture is a major point on the average millennial worker's checklist. Because millennials hold their values and standards high, it might require more work to maintain a supportive environment for your team.
"A purposeful, positive, productive work culture doesn't happen by default – it happens only by design," said Edmonds. "Senior leaders must make [sure] values – how people treat each other – are as important as results."
According to Edmonds, the hard part is not just defining values in behavioral terms, but aligning all plans, decisions and actions to them. Leaders should model, encourage and praise these valued behaviors.