“Adam” used to work at a company that provided a catered lunch (daily!) for everyone. The office basement housed a brand-new gym facility with free fitness classes, and his employer offered fun, offsite, team-building activities every month. Employees even had a lot of say about their workspaces: they could choose between traditional desks or standing desks, and between cubicles or desks in open offices. In short, the company was saturated with workplace perks. But Adam, a Millennial, stayed there for just over one year— and then left. Sound familiar?
© Eugenio Marongiu / Adobe Stock
Take a look at the numbers. Over one-third of Millennials self-report that they change jobs every one to three years. 1 At the same time, most companies say that the cost of replacing each Millennial who leaves ranges from $15,000 – $25,000. 2 Together, these figures point to a looming—and costly—retention crisis.
And although plenty of employers are following the trend of offering workplace perks to attract Millennials, many companies have found that perks alone won’t retain the members of this generation. These workers aren’t leaving jobs because they think they’ll find better perks somewhere else. They’re leaving because companies are engaging in practices that drive them away. In particular, using any of the five strategies listed below is a surefire method to decrease the number of Millennials in your organization’s ranks.
Millennials prioritize timely, constructive communication with both their managers and their teammates. They constantly crave feedback (and much more than just the annual performance review) on how they’re doing, how they can improve, and how they can grow. Be open to communicating with your Millennial team members, and be clear and concise in your feedback to them. If you’re unable to get on the same page with them, don’t be surprised when they leave in search of a manager who can give them the communication they want.
GIVE RECOGNITION SHORT SHRIFT
Recognition really matters to Millennials—it increases their drive and determination, improves their connection to the company, and is their top motivation to produce great work. But simply dropping off a gift card in an envelope isn’t enough. Research by the O.C. Tanner Institute found that for recognition to resonate with Millennials, it must be personal and sincere. 3 So provide a meaningful recognition experience to show your Millennials how much you value them.
LACK VISION AND EXECUTION
Millennials are inspired by incredible leaders, purchase brands they believe in, and volunteer time and money in support of causes that speak to them. So it should come as no surprise that they expect their careers, too, to be driven by a powerful purpose that is communicated and supported throughout the organization. Unless you take the time to explain to Millennials what the company’s mission is and how employees can contribute individually to it while living their values, you’ll lose valuable talent as they head elsewhere for inspiration.
EMBRACE ARCHAIC POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
Millennials have no problem following the rules that make sense and have a purpose. But if your company still upholds policies left over from days of old (forbidding any social media use at work, for example, or implementing yearly performance reviews instead of more frequent check-ins), any Millennials who come on board will soon head for the door. So make sure your company regulations fulfill a clearly communicated and contemporary purpose. Otherwise, Millennials will see right through your outdated practices and head to more modern workplaces that have relevant and well-thought-out policies.
There are two main areas in which stagnation can affect a company: in employees’ lack of enthusiasm for their day-to-day work, and in the lack of employee development opportunities. More often than other generations, Millennials will change jobs when they fail to find purpose and diversity in their everyday tasks. So make sure they know how their jobs fit into the bigger picture and highlight the value of their roles by encouraging them to weigh in on important business decisions.
Provide development opportunities, too, because 75% of Millennials who leave their jobs do so because their current positions “lack . . . advancement opportunities.” 4 Offer avenues of growth (such as training via online modules and participation in speaking events or industry conferences) and encourage employees to take advantage of them. Also, match each employee with a mentor who can help him or her achieve personal and professional growth.
In 2015 the Millennial generation became the largest segment of the workforce. In order to retain Millennials and engage them to produce great work, make sure your company isn’t guilty of following practices that alienate them. Then ask for their feedback on your management and policies and listen to the real reasons they want to leave. You’ll know when you’ve fully addressed their concerns, because performance will rise, turnover will fall—and your company will have a great group of happy and productive employees.
David Sturt is the executive vice president of marketing and development at the O.C. Tanner Institute and the author of Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love. Todd Nordstrom is the director of institute content at the O.C. Tanner Institute. Throughout his career he has been a driving force and voice of business publishing and management sciences, reaching millions of readers in print and online. This article comes to us from our friends at O.C. Tanner and originally appeared on Forbes (www.forbes.com)
1. Jobvite. 2015. Job Seeker Nation Study: Inside the Mind of the Job Seeker. www.jobvite.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/jobvite_jobseeker_nation_2015.pdf.
2. Dan Schawbel. 2013. The Cost of Millennial Retention Study. millennialbranding.com/2013/cost-millennial-retention-study/.
3. See these two reports from the O.C. Tanner Institute: 5 Best Practices for Managing Multigernational Workforces (www.octanner.com/landing/multigenerational-workforces.html) and What Causes Great People to Produce Great Work (www.octanner.com/landing/offers/drivers-of-great-work.html).
4. Alan Goforth. 2015. “Why Millennials Quit Their Jobs.” BenefitsPro. www.benefitspro.com/2015/05/06/why-millennials-quit-their-jobs.