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How to keep the Millennials in your workforce happy

By The Office Coach - Feb 3, 2017
How to keep the Millennials in your workforce happy

Our workforce is getting younger, and I know they have different needs to our older employees – how can ensure they’re happy in the workplace?

Happiness leads to engagement and increased productivity so investing in the workplace wellbeing of your staff and connecting with them has got to be a priority for you.

It is true that the workforce is getting younger: millennials (otherwise called “Generation Y”) are people born roughly between 1982 and 2003 and will make up 50% of our workforce by 2020 according to PwC. Further, this generation finds fulfilment and happiness in areas that the older generations may not.

You are right to focus on the unique needs of the millennials. You need to tailor your company culture and even remuneration structure to keep the emerging workforce motivated, productive and making a positive impact on the economy.

The Centre for American Progress suggests employee turnover costs more than 21% of a worker’s annual salary on average, so you can’t afford large-scale departures. Here are some ideas to consider in relation to the recruitment and retention of millennials:

Show clear career paths

PwC forecast that millennials may have as many as ten different career changes in a lifetime and that these changes will be made across fields, levels and areas of expertise. Don’t assume that this means millennials are transient by nature; research suggests that they move around when they do not see prospects and growth opportunities. So, manage your talent carefully, develop star performers into senior positions and map out that journey for your young employees.

Offer mentorship

Millennials don’t just want a healthy salary, they also want to be mentored and to form relationships, to feel that they are part of a team. According to a survey by Millennial Branding and American Express, 53% of millennial workers said a mentorship relationship would help them become better and more productive members of the company. Mentorship needs to focus on helping millennials see why a particular output is required; they don’t function well without this understanding. Remember, they have grown up being empowered and included. This theme needs to continue in your mentorship.

Pay for performance

While creating a great company culture and keeping employees intrinsically motivated is important, salary still impacts morale. In recent research, high performers were more likely to be employed two years later compared to low performers. One factor for this retention rate is that top performers earn 35% more than low performers, and 27% more than core performers. If you have people you can’t imagine living without, make sure their salaries reflects their value.

Transparent structure

Millennials are an entrepreneurial generation, and by allowing employees to see how the company operates, They don’t just want to be a cog in the machine; they want to be the engine and know what direction their employer is going and how they can help. They need team objectives and need their roles in the team clearly explained.

Get flexible

This isn’t a request specific to millennials; most employees would like more flexibility in their schedules to achieve better work-life balance and productivity. As millennials get older and begin starting families, this need for flexibility will only increase. Manage your staff by setting clear objectives and allow them the autonomy to deliver on these in a way that suits both them and the business. Richard Branson is pioneering this approach; he recently announced that the staff at Virgin Head Office would not have an annual leave allowance and that they do not need to seek manager approval when they want time off. He is focusing on what needs to be done in the business and giving his staff the freedom to decide how much leave they take and when they take it. His only constraint is that staff need to be 100% sure that they have fulfilled their commitment to work and that the business will not suffer in their absence. Grown up stuff!

Give real-time feedback

Millennials want to know what you think RIGHT NOW. Let your Gen Y team member know the same day, if not the same hour, when you're unhappy with something he or she has done and present it in an action oriented way. For example, rather than give a monologue about what should be done differently say something like “Let's talk about our approach to XYZ so we can get you focused and performing at your best next time". This is a great way to turn criticism into an action item. This generation also appreciate being kept informed and seek frequent praise and reassurance. Keep talking to them.

Give back

As a generation, millennials want to make a difference and are highly socially aware. Not only is it good business practice and something incentivised by government but it is also an opportunity for you to grow strong roots in your local community. This may allow you to attract and retain talent who want be part of a company with similar values.

Have fun

There’s a reason why companies like Google and Facebook are constantly flooded with applications - employees seem like they’re having fun. There are various ways to foster this type of environment; you can develop a fun atmosphere with perks like free lunches and pool tables, or you can simply plan activities your employees enjoy. A little fun can help us all get through the workday, and for smart employers, it can help retain your millennial talent.

Millennials are the future of our workforce so it’s right to consider how to keep these employees happy — and it’s easy to do. Listen to their needs, find out how they like to communicate and foster relationships.

That’s the WHAT and WHY. For the HOW TO, contact info@theofficecoach.co.za