5 Free Ways To Retain Your Millennial Employees (Fosters Engagement)

Retaining employees is challenging, but when it comes to millennials we tend to clouded by preconceived notions. The truth is, millennials are looking for more than just a raise.

Retain Millennial Employees
Photo: Pixabat/ stocksnap

The secret to retaining millennial employees has been a constant source of speculation. Like any other generation, millennials have been subject to stereotyping (Baby Boomers were once called the, “Me, Me, Me” generation too, go figure) and tend to be wildly misunderstood.

The truth is employers lean far too heavily on what they think millennials want, instead of looking at the hard data.

Not to worry, I looked at it for you!

A report by Fidelity found that the average millennial would consider taking an average pay decrease of over $7000 (gulp!) if it meant improving their quality of life.

So what does ‘improved quality of life’ means to a millennial workforce? And how can you seize these opportunities and retain your millennial workers without breaking the bank?

Here are 5 Money-Free Ways To Retain Millennial Workers:

1. Flexible Work Schedule: 0$

A flexible schedule is one of the most sought-after benefits. Why? Besides the obvious accommodation for their personal schedule (doctor’s appointment at noon? No problem,) more flexibility can ease everyday anxiety, especially for employees with young families.

While ‘flexible work hours’ might conjure images of direct reports lounging around at home, the reality is that flexible work hours lead to happier and healthier employees.

It reduces overall stress, increases job satisfaction, and minimizes the chance of burnout.

So, how can it be implemented? Slowly, at first. Providing your employees with a window instead of a steadfast time can help ease stress.

For example, allowing employees to arrive between 8:30 AM and 10 AM, and to leave anywhere from 4:30 PM and 6 PM. This allows employees to drive their kids to school in the morning, avoid stressful rush hours, or even catch a few more minutes of shut-eye.

Demonstrate that you trust them enough to complete their work on time.

2. Mentorships/ Career development: $0

There are multiple studies highlighting the benefits of mentorships for protégés, the greatest of which is the mentees’ exposure to their mentor’s network and knowledge.

What many don’t realize is that there are benefits for the mentor, including improved job satisfaction and increased commitment to the company.

Mentorships are a low-cost way of ensuring a millennial worker feels valued, and that their future at the company has potential.

While it may feel intimidating to implement a vigorous mentor/mentee training program in your company, something as simple as gathering once a week can be enough. A mentor might conduct a short presentation over lunch about a certain skill, department, or impart some insider knowledge is a great place to start.

3. Purpose: $0

About 74% of employees surveyed by Linkedin say they value a sense of purpose in their work more than anything else. This means creating a greater sense of your company's impact may be imperative to your retention rates.

Make sure millennial employees have a clear understanding of where their work fits into the greater mission. Create a bigger picture, and encourage inter-departmental communication so your millennial workforce can appreciate everyone’s role in the overall mission.

Another tip to retain millennials would be to encourage volunteer work and incentivize outreach. This has the added benefit of creating a great relationship between your company and your local community.

4. Company Culture: $0

When people read ‘millennial’ and ‘workplace culture’ they tend to think of bean bag chairs, beer on tap, and unlimited snacks. The truth is, while employees certainly appreciate those perks, a company culture that is open and drama-free is the real prize.

According to an HBR study, millennials perform much better on average if they feel “love” while at work. While that may sound a bit too holistic for your sensibilities, it’s important to note that it is backed by surveys across seven different industries. The term “love” can seem misleading, but it really means an environment of collaboration rather than competition. A sense that your teammates and leaders care about your well-being at work beyond their bottom line.

Fostering a work environment that encourages employees’ reaching out for help creates a more trusting and, yes, “loving” company culture.

5. Transparency: $0

When employees feel left in the dark they will most certainly begin imagining far worse scenarios than whatever may be underway. It also creates a sense of distrust and wariness. The latter only serves to increase stress and lower work quality.

An easy place to start implementing transparency is by clear communication. It may be tempting to shield your employees by omitting bad news, but you will only have created a greater sense of shock and loss. It's best to give them a head's up than to leave them dangling.

Tara has been writing for over 6 years, from stand-up comedy, to think-pieces, to political satire and blog posts. She now writes and edits for LEADx.org, and her door is open to any interested contributors.