As a millennial CEO starting a company, I wanted to create a team of likeminded people. While conducting interviews, I realized that the questions millennials were asking about the company were different from what I used to hear while hiring Gen Xers in my previous job. I was being asked about the mission and vision of the company and how they would be able to make a unique dent in its future. They wanted to devote their loyalty, creativity, hard work, and time to the organization.
According to Gallup, millennials are the job-hopping generation. Sixty percent are open to a new job opportunity at any point in time, which makes them most likely among all employees to switch jobs. In 2016, 21% of millennials did so.
The same survey shows that millennials make up one-third of the American workforce, and this turnover costs the U.S. $30.5 billion each year. The only way to reduce this number is to help millennials feel valued and like they are an important part of the company. Here are some strategies for combating high employee turnover and retaining millennials:
Recognize their good work
An Aon Hewitt report from 2015 shows that 53% of millennials appreciate a “thank you” from peers and managers and that 42% want public recognition from senior leadership as a method of praise. Recognizing millennials’ accomplishments only once in a blue moon is not enough for this restless generation. According to a PwC study, 41% of millennials want to be recognized at least once every month, compared to only 30% of non-millennials.
Millennials are entwined in the world of social media, where constant retweets, Facebook likes, and Instagram double taps are a huge real-time motivator. This validation applies to the workplace as well.
The best way to make all your employees feel recognized is to take steps toward building a strong team culture. First, identify what emotionally drives your millennial employees. What difference do they think they can make in the company? Talk to them to get their input.
Based on their answers, encourage all team members to give each other positive feedback. When everyone on the team is consistently being recognized for their accomplishments, this practice will become more natural and effortless over time.
Create a frequent feedback loop
Growing up in a world of Netflix, Amazon, and Uber, millennials are used to working and communicating quickly and remotely. Hence it’s no surprise that 80% of millennials said they would prefer frequent feedback to traditional performance reviews, according to a study by Namely. Try creating an open channel of communication, where you can provide employees with constructive criticism and they can voice issues to management without hesitation.
I often take individuals from my team for coffee feedback sessions. I make sure to act approachable and smile at any criticism. I ask them if they are happy working at the company, if anything about work is bothering them, and if there is anything I can do to improve their work experience.
I take notes during these sessions, and later analyze them. When I notice common problems among all my employees, they go directly onto my priority list. I then make sure to acknowledge their feedback if we make any changes. Showing that I am listening to their ideas encourages employees to be open to feedback as well.
Connect with the heart
A National Society of High School Scholars survey in 2016 found that 46.6% of millennials listed corporate social responsibility as a factor in choosing an employer. Millennials want to be connected to a company’s mission and vision.
Our millennial-dominated team expects us to be active in this realm. To that end, we make sure that our team has an opportunity to participate in a community service program every month.
If you can help millennials find their place in your organization, they will feel engaged and valued. That will make them much less likely to jump ship if another job opportunity comes along.