Millennial Employees

Employee Retention in the Age of Millennials

As recently as the late 1990s, college graduates and young professionals still saw spending 30-plus years with the same company and moving up the ranks along the way to be the markings of a successful career.

Spending that many years with a company meant security, annual bonuses, and a stable retirement. Ultimately, it was something to be celebrated and respected when retirement came around.

Fast forward to 2010 when Millennials began entering the workforce, and that notion was completely flipped on its head.

Millennials (aka, 18 to 34 year olds) comprise the majority of the workforce today — and their definition of career success is much different than the generation that preceded them. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Millennials don’t perceive longevity in a career as a badge of success. Instead, a short resumé is often viewed as a badge of complacency, signifying a lack of drive or inspiration.

Furthermore, they aren’t motivated simply by the bottom line as were the generations before them. Interview most Millennials and they’ll tell you their #CareerGoals include deeper meaning, work/life balance, and obtaining a high level of personal fulfillment from their jobs.

Impact on Businesses

Considering that Millennials now account for one in three American workers, according to Pew Research (surpassing Generation Xers), it’s no surprise this shift is affecting businesses as they attempt to retain this ever-fleeting generation of employees.

Recent research from Pew and others illustrates the fact that Millennials are always on the lookout for their next best thing.

“Millennials are consumers of the workplace, and they are willing to investigate and pursue positions with other companies,” Gallup stated in its May 2016 poll, “Millennials: The Job-Hopping Generation.”

That poll revealed that only 29% of Millennials are engaged at their current jobs. Gallup also determined that six out of 10 Millennials are open to new job opportunities, and only half of them expect to be working in their current job one year from now.

While none of this may come as news to you, as a business owner you must determine how you’re going to adjust your practices in order to attract, and retain employees. Your company is only as good as the sum of its parts, and in order to flourish your workforce must be thriving.

No matter your opinion of the Millennial mindset, the fact remains that they are the bulk of today’s workforce, and to be successful as a business owner you must understand how to engage this generation if you hope to retain them as employees.


For most forward-thinking employers, the benchmark for retention relates to employee contribution. This can be a win/win for employers and employees. As Millennials look to make meaningful contributions to several companies vs. just one throughout their working years, you as the employer stand to benefit from this generation’s drive and desire to make a positive impact.

In the best of cases, employees can gain experience and recognition that will propel them to their next employment stop and your business can reap long-lasting benefits from their worthy contribution.

So, as an employer, how can you retain employees in the Age of the Millennial? Follow these three pieces of advice:

1. Let them flex their leadership muscle.

As frustrating as it may be for employers, this generation of workers wants to “own” something — usually very early on. They want at least some autonomy, and they want recognition. You’ll increase job engagement by allowing this. At best, you’ll benefit from some great ideas that keep your business in touch with Millennial customers, and at worst, their ideas won’t bear fruit. Either way, their desire for personal job satisfaction and fulfillment means they’re unlikely to do any damage.

2. Clearly define how employees can progress and develop in your company.

Millennials want tangible ways to advance in order to be granted the freedom and trust to prove their worth and talent. If you don’t provide that pathway with explicit instructions on how to get there, they’ll move on to a company that will.

3. Encourage innovation.

This generation of employees is inspired by the Travis Kalanicks, Tony Hsiehs, and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world. To Millennials, innovation and entrepreneurship spell success — and that’s the kind of success they seek. If you want to keep them around you must embrace “intrapreneurship,” which, in a nutshell, means encouraging employees to behave like entrepreneurs within the boundaries of your organization.

Benefit from open-mindedness

It can be difficult to embrace a generation of employees whose short-term goals on the surface may seem to undercut the values and vision of businesses built on the dedication and perseverance of their workforces. However, your company will no doubt benefit from the intelligence and drive of a new generation of workers.

When it comes to hiring and retaining employees today, embracing the Millennial mindset can yield excellent results for your business.

About the Author: Bruce Hakutizwi is the U.S. and International Business Manager for Dynamis LTD., the parent company of Bruce is passionate about helping small businesses succeed and regularly writes about entrepreneurship and small business management.