What to offer to retain your next generation of leaders

Today, more than one in three U.S. workers are millennial generation members — individuals approximately age 18 to 34, who now account for the largest share of the American workforce, according to the Pew Research Center.

In four years, the Harvard Business review says millennial workers will comprise nearly half the employees in the world.

Given its sheer size, the millennial generation stands to greatly influence workplace culture in the coming years. As a result, employers are attempting to identify what structural elements and amenities can help attract and retain millennial workers.

Thanks to recent research, we know millennial generation members have a few very specific job and workplace desires; and they aren’t afraid to leave a job they aren’t happy with. Ninety percent of millennial workers with the highest levels of education and professional focus say they plan to exit their current employer within 3 years, according to a recent report from commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.

To hold on to key millennial talent, employers need to foster a workplace environment that directly addresses millennial workers’ lifestyle, career plans and other goals.

To create a company culture that will draw and retain millennial workers, consider the following:

Prepare to rely more on technology to communicate. More than half — 58 percent — of millennial workers feel communication is the most important leadership skill; fittingly, nearly as many (51 percent) say it’s one of their strongest, according to a recent study from WorkplaceTrends.com and training firm Virtuali. However, their top choice for training options was online classes; just four percent of millennial workers said they’d be interested in university courses.

The millennial generation’s reliance on technology has been well-documented. They are, as Nielsen notes, the first group to come of age with cable TV, cell phones and the Internet in wide distribution — one of the potential reasons millennials ranked tech use as the top factor that makes their generation unique. More than 74 percent say technology makes their life easier. A global survey conducted by telecommunications company Telefonica found that a third of millennials believe technology has transformed workplace productivity. For millennial workers, email, text and other forms of electronic communication may trump face-to-face meetings.

Take culture into account. As Fortune notes, technology has helped connect and unite offices across the globe; yet a one-size-fits-all policy to employee recruitment, retention and management likely won’t be effective for millennial workers in every country. The solution? Respect and address cultural practices that potentially matter to the millennial generation. For example, when Starbucks’ CEO noticed the strong involvement family members in China have with their adult children’s career moves, he held a forum for baristas’ parents and grandparents in Beijing, according to Fortune—a step toward fostering a sense of inclusion and loyalty among millennial workers and their families.

Make the job matter. When it comes to millennial workers, money isn’t everything. Many rank giving back to and actively participating in their community as a prominent goal. Sixty-four percent of millennial workers, in fact,  feel time, money and other personal resources offer them a greater ability to make an impact on their local area, according to a 2015 the Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll. Providing company-sponsored volunteering opportunities and fundraising projects can help fuel millennial workers’ drive to give back — and work for an employer that does, too.

Work-life balance is a non-negotiable. Millennial generation members often feel a career should be one — but not necessarily the only — priority in life. A recent FlexJobs survey found that 84 percent of millennial workers want more work-life balance; 85 percent said they’d ideally like to telecommute 100 percent of the time.

Although research indicates millennial workers may leave within a few years for a new job, you certainly have a higher chance of retaining millennial generation members — who may eventually assume a leadership position at your organization — by keeping them happy.

Offering flex schedules and time off may have a significant impact on your millennial worker-based retention efforts. (Providing popular benefits and amenities and a stellar employee recognition program also can’t hurt.)

Hiring ambitious, dedicated millennial workers is the first step. If you’re struggling to find qualified millennial generation candidates, the tips in our recent posts on rethinking your recruitment tactics and interview and hiring trends that can transform your talent search may help.