Retaining Millennials 101

Jim Bitterle - Consulting Managing Partner ·

Baby Boomers and Gen Xers regularly complain about managing and retaining Millennials. From one perspective, it seems that Millennials are impatient, require significant attention, and are prone to quick job changes. On the other side, there are many high performing Millennials that remain for extended periods with select employers.

The employers that have “cracked the Millennial code” have learned a couple of key points. First, Millennials have a high demand for learning and growth opportunities. This means they expect their employers to provide learning opportunities that directly lead to personal and professional growth. Second, Millennials desire, more than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, opportunities for advancement. Often, career ladders and lattices are used to clearly communicate growth paths and their associated knowledge attainment steps. When Millennials see clear paths for growth and development, they tend to have better performance and retention records.

These two points were confirmed in Gallup’s 2016 study - How Millennials Want to Work and Live (Exhibit A). In this study, Gallup surveyed 1,700 workers regarding “what they look for when applying for a job”. The two areas that Millennials were clearly different than their predecessors were related to learning opportunities and career growth. If your organization is struggling to attract and retain high quality Millennials, I suggest you start to focus on these two areas. After all, the vast majority of new entrants into the workforce are Millennials. It’s time we all make the necessary changes to connect with this talent pool.