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Why Your Company Needs Millennials-and How to Foster a Culture to Retain Them

To attract millennial employees and keep them engaged, leaders should establish a purpose-driven culture that prioritizes learning opportunities

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BY Partners In Leadership - 06 Jun 2018

Why Your Company Needs Millennials-and How to Foster a Culture to Retain Them

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

By Marcus Nicolls, Senior Partner at Partners In Leadership; author and expert in change management and accountability.

In 2016, millennials officially surpassed Gen Xers as the largest generation in the American workforce. This has come as good news for employers in the race to attract millennial talent.

Currently, in the first decades of their careers, millennials are the future of the global economy. It's a generation that delivers results efficiently, learns quickly, and helps organizations adapt to the digital age. That's why it's important for corporate leaders to create a culture that offers millennials what they need while engaging and maximizing their talents to achieve desired results.

Focus on Purpose

People will work hard for money, harder for a good leader, and hardest for a purpose they believe in. Companies winning the war for talent share one thing in common: they ensure that each employee is aware that the work they do every day matters. Purpose is more than just a feel-good buzzword; purpose is critical to survival and sustained growth. It is directly tied to an employee's motivation to engage deeply in his or her work. According to our research, when employees are happier at work, 85% say they take more initiative and 73% say they are better collaborators. This all impacts company results, since inspired and satisfied employees are almost three times more productive than dissatisfied employees.

And while millennials value work that gives them a sense of purpose, according to the research, this value increases across generation groups. Defining purpose is critical not just for attracting millennial talent, but retaining talent across your workforce.

When you create a strong sense of purpose in the workplace, employees of any generation pour energy and excitement into their work. Because positive engagement and enthusiasm are contagious, it's natural to want to be part of a team and company where that engagement is recognizable and is impacting results. Establish this critical link and yours will be the company that captures employees' hearts, minds, and talent for the long haul.

Keep Them Challenged

Because millennials grew up with social media and other digital platforms at their disposal, they are highly adaptable to the changing tech landscape. Multitasking has both limited our attention spans and rewired our brains to seek out new, innovative solutions. The millennial mindset is generally classified by a sense of urgency surrounding problem-solving that says, "There must be a better, faster, more efficient way."

As such, millennials maintain motivation by learning and developing new skills. Yet only 39% of millennials strongly agree that they've learned something new from their work in the past 30 days. It should come as no surprise, then, that this generation of workers spends an average of just two years at any given company. To engage and retain millennial employees, leaders should prioritize professional development opportunities and continually present new projects that allow their employees to use and develop their unique skill sets.

One of the key tenets of an accountable workforce is that employees take ownership over results. Put the skill sets of your millennial workforce to work by challenging them to find new solutions to problems--you'll be surprised by how many new ideas they come up with!

Be Flexible

Anywhere from 50% to 92% of millennials report that they would like the option to work remotely, while up to 87% want to work on their own schedules. For leaders, it's worth considering the ways in which flexible work schedules provide a stronger sense of work-life balance--a quality that can attract millennial employees to your workplace in droves, and keep them happier for longer than the two-year stint that has become the norm.

Contrary to a common misperception, millennials aren't lazy; but many do prefer to work outside the conventional expectation of a 9-to-5 shift. Millennials surveyed in a 2017 Deloitte study reported that flexible work schedules contribute to greater productivity, organizational performance, and employee engagement, as well as personal happiness, health, and wellbeing. The same study revealed that the more flexible the workplace, the less likely millennials were to leave the company.

To provide flexibility without losing accountability, employers must ensure that every employee feels a deep sense of personal commitment to the success of the organization. Here's how.

The Race for Talent Is On - This is How You Win

Foster a culture of clear purpose that allows for ample learning opportunities and a healthy work-life balance in order to engage and retain millennial employees. By investing in a few adjustments to your organizational culture, the payoff is clear: millennials will help scale your business and achieve your desired results