How to Retain Millennials in the Workforce

Give your Millennial some feedback.

Ahhhh. . the elusive Millennial. They’re painted with both sides of the brush: either they’re spoiled members of the “me” generation, or they’re working two jobs to pay student loans. Regardless of portrayal, companies are eager to hire them. Millions of dollars have been spent trying to lure the Millennial into a workplace with casual dress, onsite gyms, and even free massages. But you don’t need to spend money on lavish high-tech offices to recruit today’s recent graduates. You just need to follow this one simple tip.

Tell them how the work affects the project and the company.

This probably sounds like the most redundant advice you’ll ever hear. Well, of course you’ve been reviewing your Millennial’s reports and proposals! You even praised them! They’re used to getting trophies for everything, so don’t they want to hear that they’ve done a good job?

Well, yes, that couldn’t hurt, but the short answer is no. More than a ping-pong table or a luxurious onsite gym, Millennials want to know how their work is important to the project or the company. Otherwise, they feel like cogs in a wheel going nowhere. They are cogs in a wheel- and most of us are- but you can get that wheel rolling forward by mentioning how their work fits into a larger scheme. Here’s an example:

“Elise, thanks for submitting that proposal. If we won business from Client X, it would really help our growth rate.”

It doesn’t even have to be praise.

“John, this is a very important client for us, so we need the deliverable by COB Thursday. Otherwise, we could lose face in front of the contracting officer, and we’ve already slipped up once last year.”

Millennials enjoy making a difference, which is why they’ve flocked to nonprofits that make a noticeable impact on the community. But your company doesn’t have to save the whales in order to get your young’uns motivated. We’re all cogs in wheels, but just let your Millennial know if his or her work moved the wheel forwards, backwards, or sideways.

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