Blog Post

A Starter Guide to Millennial Retention

Cornerstone Editors

Who better embodies the old mantra — "change is the only constant in life" — in today's workplace than Millennials? The twenty-something demographic, which is projected to make up 36 percent of the American workforce by 2014, tends to baffle their older counterparts: how to talk to them, how to work with them, and how they are transforming everything the workplace has held sacred. Currently on the list of Millennial disruptions? The nine-to-five workday.

According to a recent study ("The Cost of Millennial Retention" by Millennial Branding and, Millennials are so against a rigid clock-in, clock-out schedule at work that nearly half (48 percent) of the companies surveyed are focusing heavily on "workplace flexibility" in order to retain Gen Y talent. Forbes reports that 45 percent of workforce Millennials would opt for flex-time over higher pay.

The Millennial theme here is simple: Money means less, culture means more. How much more? Thirty percent of surveyed companies have lost 15 percent or more of their Gen Y employees in the past year. So how can employers find ways to turn those trends around? Here are some insights that may help keep an organization's young talent sticking around:

Mentorship Matters

The Millennial Branding study suggests that second to workplace flexibility as a retention tactic, many companies (40 percent of those surveyed) are also investing in mentorship programs. Mentorship is an important factor for Millennials. According to nonprofit career community Net Impact, 87 percent of current college students (as opposed to 78 percent of current workers) say that the ability to learn and grow is very important or essential to their job ideals. It's important to note that Millennials aren't looking for the traditional (of course) hierarchical type of mentorship, but simply a relationship with a trusted colleague from whom they can learn.

"A lot of mentoring programs have failed as they have tried to put structure to something that is basically a relationship," writes Jeanne Meister, author of "The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow's Employees Today" in InvestmentNews"Mentoring and coaching is an important form of development."

Greater Purpose > Great Benefits

If it isn't clear by now, make sure this assumption is hard-wired into your HR organization: Traditional benefits are no longer enough to keep Millennials. According to the HR professionals surveyed, just 14 percent of Millennials inquire about healthcare options during the interview process. Money and traditional perks also take a back seat when compared to overall purpose at a job. Nearly three-fourths of students — opposed to roughly half of all workers — report that having "a job where I can make an impact" is essential to their overall happiness.

"The Millennial generation has learned to be two things during the recession — resilient and nomadic," explains Rich Milgram, founder and CEO of "As the job market improves, the level of confidence will improve along with it and cause many in this age group to reevaluate their current situation, possibly seeing value in seeking greener pastures."

Build a Great Social Enterprise, or Else

Millennials don't view the "work-life balance" debate the same way as Gen X or Boomers. (Not exactly a shocker there.) Why? Their intense interaction with social media has changed the game. Employers who can find ways to embrace and leverage social media in the enterprise will hold significant competitive advantages over competitors that don't. Be open with Millennials on social media. And lean into social media platforms to engage: Gen Ys are generally more comfortable (38 percent) making social media introductions than managers (19 percent).

"Gen Ys are crucial to the development and growth of our economy," explains Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding. "Yet managers have a negative impression of them and it’s creating workplace drama. Managers should be setting proper expectations, giving them career support and help them develop the skills they will need today and in the future."

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How to keep your employees from jumping ship


How to keep your employees from jumping ship

Learning. Empathy. Advancement. Purpose (LEAP). The key to retaining employees, especially in times of low unemployment, lies in building a company culture based on these four words. Low unemployment means that employees are in the driver's seat, choosing the jobs they want and jumping ship for better opportunities when they come along. Job openings are plentiful and employees have a lot of choice in front of them.

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