6 Proven Ways to Effectively Retain Millennial Employees

retain millennials

With all the articles out there on retaining Millennial employees, many of them are helpful in showing what the key areas are, but rarely how to implement it. For instance, when someone says creating growth opportunities, how do you actually implement that in the workplace? Do you give your employees extra projects? Do you promote them faster? In this article, there are 6 different ways to retain Millennials, but also a few items that you can implement to make a bullet point of advice, a reality.

As a Millennial and the research I have read, I put together 6 different ways on ways to effectively retain Millennial employees. Some are fairly common while others you might have never heard of before. However, if someone is able to implement all 6 techniques, they will see a dramatic change in retention with their Millennial employees.


#1 Creating Growth Opportunities


Pew Research, did an exhaustive study looking at what do Millennials look for in work. In addition, they compared those results to each generation to really see how Millennials differ from other generations. Below is a chart with their findings

Note: If you want to understand how to retain Millennials, you need to thoroughly admire this chart’s beauty:

millennial retention

What they found between the different age groups, is that Millennials are much more interested in career development. Second in importance, is the interest in the type of work. The reason behind this is numerous and particular to the individual, but could be attested to the constant pressure that Millennials have from their peers on social media platforms to do well in their careers.


  • Making vertical promotion transparent- It’s fairly common for employers to state a number of years in order to receive promotion. How many times heard it will take, 3, 4, or 5 years to receive a promotion? Probably numerous. The unfortunate thing is, making promotion benchmark by years, instead of skill set, removes the control from the Millennial employee and creates apathy. Simply clock in and out for 3 years and get promoted. It’s not a long term strategy nor an effective way to motivate employees. When sitting down with a new Millennial employee, make the promotion ladder as transparent as possible to put the career development in the Millennial’s hands.
  • Opening Up Horizontal Mobility– Often, people join a company because they are good at one position, but reluctant to try another position due to lacking prior experience. In order to keep Millennials longer, companies open up horizontal mobility opportunities. For instance, software engineers are notoriously to have a very low retention rate. In order to keep the employees longer, some companies that have software engineers to try Product Management (horizontal move) to avoid losing the candidate. By opening up horizontal moves, an employer can extend an employees stay for another 6 months to a few years.


#2 Focusing on Company Transparency


millennial retention

Looking at Maslow’s Hierarchy, one of people’s core motivations is maintaining security. Major media outlets are constantly broadcasting when a company has major layoffs filling their listeners with paranoia. The m

ore a company can let their staff know where they stand in terms of progress, the more security motivation is met. However, executives need to be cautious of not telling employees everything, but enough so they understand where the company is headed.


  • Town hall meetings – These are a prime example of providing company transparency. It involves having everyone from the department or company attend a meeting where executives discuss what is new and happening in the company. What a lot of companies would do is send out a survey to the employees a few days before asking employees what questions they have about the company. During the meeting, the executives will answer the anonymously submitted.


  • Explaining the ‘why’ behind certain decisions- Every leader in the company is given the opportunity to provide transparency on the individual level. Often, managers know why the people above them are making certain decisions, but their direct reports do not. In these situations, the manager can use this opportunity to help their directs understand the why behind the executives decisions. By doing so, the manager fosters a transparent culture.



#3 Mentoring Relationships


Deloitte has looked into retaining Millennials from an international perspective and answered some key questions about how to retain Millennials. One of the fascinating discoveries that they uncovered in the study is the importance of mentoring relationships with Millennial retention. In the figure to the right, most Millennials feel that their mentor is giving great advice. Now, how is this related to retention? With mentors providing clear direction for professional development, it helps Millennials directly with growth, the number one in this list in the Pew Research study earlier in this article.



  • Reverse Mentoring-  a unique type of relationship where a more senior person is paired up with a Millennia. The senior person helps the Millennial with leadership while the Millennial helps the senior person with technology. Both generations are able to leverage each other’s strengths.
  • Standard Mentoring- this is the classic mentoring model where a senior person mentors someone less senior in career growth. The only difference with this mentorship is that the less senior person is not providing value to the other person.
  • Buddy Mentoring- this model involves two people on the same level in the corporate hierarchy to work with one another.



#4 Volunteering Opportunities


All over the United States, many companies are now leveraging volunteering time off for retention. From an article from ClearCompany, they found that 97% of employees believe that projects are not finished on time from team’s lacking cohesion. By having volunteering time off, employees can work as a healthy environment to build stronger workplace teams. Adding to this, Millennials are found to be purpose driven when viewing companies, compared to other generations, so by companies providing volunteering opportunities, Millennials can also feel they are offering something more to the world, working at their current company.


Sending Invite Notifications- Many companies participate in volunteering opportunities, but often employees are not aware of these opportunities. Make sure to send out calendar invites and team outings to other employees in the company to encourage camaraderie.

Offer VTO- Companies like Salesforce, NuStar Energy and Deloitte, all offer volunteering time off opportunities. This by itself, not only works as a great way to retain employees, but also attract them for work/life balance reasons.


#5 Leverage Flexible Work Opportunities

Why:millennial retention

Many managers often cringe when they see the endless requests from Millennial employees to take time off, or work remotely. The interesting thing behind having flexible work opportunities, is that the Society of Human Resource has shown countless times that it can increase retention. A few cases where this works is: someone wants to take care of a family member during the week. Another, someone’s spouse wants to move across the country and the employee can still work remotely because of how loyal they have become. Either way, having remote work can work as an attraction tool, but also a retention one.


  • Offering PTO– Paid Time Off is a strategy many companies use to offer employees opportunities to take time off and also be paid for it. Contrary to popular belief, some employees experience burnout from not taking enough time off. By not having a time drawn in the sand of how much time someone should take off, opportunities for unnecessary burnout occur.
  • Allow people to work from home once a week- Allowing employees to work remotely a few times a week can work as a great incentive for employee performance. However, managers need to learn the art of managing productivity and expectations when employees are remote.



#6 Make them Brand Ambassadors


Just like any other generation, Millennials want to get behind the company they are working for. However, many companies do not provide opportunities for younger employees to represent the company. This drive can be attest to social media, and having the brand proof to show friends. Countless companies leverage this by providing free swag to college students in order to get free publicity and make college students more connected to brands.


  • Join the Social Media Discussion- Avey Dennison, a global science and manufacturing company, encourages each of their employees to participate with the company in social media and join the discussion.


  • Create ambassador positions: Other companies like RedBull would have literal ambassadors where Millennials can sport their company attire and in some cases, sell for them. Some tech companies like Google, have created positions like Developer Relations where employees can work with the company’s community. Each case, involves younger employees to represent the company. By doing so, they feel that they are connected to something bigger than themselves.


Jeff Butler

Jeff Butler Internationally respected speaker and consultant, Jeff Butler helps bridge generational gaps between Millennials and companies looking for their talent and patronage. Butler has quickly built his reputation as a memorable presenter with tangible solutions for attracting, retaining, and engaging Millennials as employees and customers. Within just the past three years, he has spoken at two TEDx events and multiple Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Amazon, and LinkedIn.


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