HR.com: Retaining The Growing Millennial Workforce: Is there an app for that?

Originally Published in HR.com | June 17, 2016 | By Paul Mandell

Every generation is defined by a certain set of characteristics, and the Millennial generation is no different. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, millennials make up approximately thirty-four percent of the labor force, giving corporate executives ample incentive to understand and address the unique elements of this demographic. Yet Consero Group’s recent Talent Management Data Survey, developed in connection with the January 2016 Talent Management Forum, indicates that fifty-nine percent of surveyed chief talent officers believe that their company is not doing an adequate job of attracting and retaining millennial talent. Today’s talent management leaders may be inclined to ignore or simply tolerate the differences between millennials and employees of other generations. However, these corporate executives would be far better served to focus on tailoring their efforts to attract and retain the millennial workforce using the very characteristics that define the generation.

It’s no secret that millennials rely heavily on technology and social media in their everyday lives. It is therefore no surprise that seventy-two percent of Consero survey respondents believe social media to be an effective tool for finding and recruiting top talent. But the talent officer’s job is hardly done once he or she finds the necessary talent. Rather, once new employees are in the door, talent managers must ensure that those new employees stick around. Close to two-thirds of Consero’s survey respondents prioritize talent retention over talent acquisition as their primary focus in the year to come. Yet a majority of companies have not changed their culture or practices to meet the needs of the new generation. Through both its recent forum and survey, Consero has identified the following key approaches to retaining millennials:

1. Focus on culture. In general, millennials are less inclined to grin and bear an unappealing workplace environment. Chief talent officers should think about how to make the work environment more interesting and fun. This doesn’t mean that you need to sacrifice productivity or quality of work. Rather, subtle changes such as offering casual dress, creating a welcoming and less stuffy workplace, and encouraging employees to voice their opinions about office environment (and listening to them) all can have a significant positive impact.

2. Provide more positive feedback and public recognition.Prior generations were content to put their noses to the grindstone and pay their dues without recognition. But a clear defining characteristic of the Millennial generation is the need for more positive feedback and public recognition. Unfortunately, forty-five percent of talent officers surveyed noted that their corporate rewards and recognition programs are not competitive. To address this issue, talent management should consider establishing structured programs that set clear goals and provide opportunities for public acknowledgement of success. In short, let employees know what’s expected of them, and then make sure they and others know when they meet those goals.

3. Connect the dots between work and corporate success.This is no slacker generation—millennials want to make an impact and may lose interest faster than prior generations if they feel as though they are not influencing the direction of business. Management needs to be clear about where the business is going, and be sure to communicate how employee work helps the business grow. You welcomed them into the workplace, you told them what you expect, and you indicated when they met those expectations. Now show them where doing that good work takes the business.

While previous generations might enjoy making good-natured jokes about the fresh workforce, in truth, millennials are actually more similar to other generations than they are different. In fact, fifty-nine percent of respondents in Consero’s survey think that millennials are neither more nor less different to manage than other generations. But as evidenced by corporate America’s lackluster performance in attracting and retaining this talent, there are some differences that call for a new approach. And by recognizing those differences and fine-tuning their approach to talent, management can give their businesses a chance to build a strong workforce and capture a competitive edge. ITM


Author Bio


Paul Mandell
is a Founder and the Chief Executive Officer of Consero Group, an international leader in the development of invitation-only events for C-suite executives. Prior to Consero, Mr. Mandell founded a national legal support business that was acquired in 2007. Before embarking on his career in entrepreneurship, Mr. Mandell practiced law in New York, NY and Washington, DC. Mr. Mandell serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the University of Maryland Foundation, and he Chairs the University of Maryland College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Board of Visitors.

Connect Paul Mandell

Follow @pmandell