4 Ways to Keep Millennials from Fleeing Your Company

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Coaching tips from Linda Dulye, President/Founder, Dulye & Co., and the Dulye Leadership Experience
 
Here today, gone in a year. That’s the trajectory of many young professionals today. 
 
Gallup, in its much publicized engagement study about millennials, determined six in 10 were open to job hopping. But that doesn’t have to be the case. 
 
As the founder of the Dulye Leadership Experience (DLE)—a premiere career development and elite networking program for under-40 professionals, I regularly coach working millennials through “stay or go” deliberations about their present positions. My experience coupled with data from periodic DLE polling indicates that millennial job flight can be contained
 
Regardless if their organization is non-profit, private or publicly traded—large or small—cultural or industrial, millennials’ decisions to stay or go are heavily influenced by work relationships. 
 
That’s not to say money isn’t important. Millennials want fair compensation, cost-of-living increases and flexible work hours. However, the support, respect and interest of senior leaders and direct managers matters much more. 
 
Daily attention to these four practices will deliver big dividends in retaining talent. Illustrating each are actual comments from DLE young professionals recently polled on this pressing topic.
  1. Make personal connections. Stop email blasts and get out of your office. Schedule calendar time for informal, in-person chats at employees’ desks about their job, a new initiative or upcoming event. “Leaders should take time to sit down with their employees,” and, “check in with them on their goals.” For virtual employees, make a phone call. Be genuine and humble. Human interaction, not technology, forges meaningful and lasting relationships. “If young professionals don’t feel their leader is approachable, they won’t communicate their questions, thoughts or concerns.”
  2. Be curious. Don’t settle for silence during staff meetings or one-on-one conversations. “Give young workers a voice.” Ask questions to learn from and about millennial team members. “Listen, don’t talk.”  Pose open-ended questions like, “What is one thing we can do to improve how we…,” so you hear more than yes or no responses. Keep questions fresh and timely. Inquire about challenges facing the organization, as well as an employee in their role. “Ask what project I’d like to work on rather than tell me.”  Find out what’s going well and what’s not.
  3. Invest in professional development. Stop blaming budgets. There’s no excuse for not supporting the next generation’s career development.  Access, opportunity and attention are prized by millennials. “Senior leaders need to put the time and energy into helping develop young employees’ skills.”  Give them a seat and air time for feedback at strategic planning sessions with senior management. Assign them to escort a board member at a major fundraiser--making important introductions and talking about the great things your organization is doing.  Create a cross-department assignment to learn new skills, tools and practices.  “The biggest motivation to stay at a job is if there is opportunity for me to learn and grow.”
  4. Show that you care. Millennials want to know they matter in an organization’s success.  “My time, opinions and hard work should be acknowledged, appreciated and respected.” They want leaders to show appreciation—directly, simply and sincerely. Little things have big impact: a firm handshake, handwritten thank-you note, an in-person check-in. Be a career mentor who shares professional publications and past job experiences. Don’t hinge recognition on static practices, such as annual raises and bonuses. “Have candid conversations about my potential.” Frequent, spontaneous actions stick in mind and heart.  “Leaders who take the time to understand who their young professionals are at a personal level will get more professional buy in and trust.”
When a millennial employee feels valued as a person and a professional, it matters more than money. Work this priority! The net result of a collaborative, uplifting team environment will benefit all in your workplace—not just the youngest talent. 
 

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