Millennial Retention Strategies

Employees learning about millennial retention strategies.

It’s likely that millennials make up the bulk of your workforce. After all, they are currently the largest generational cohort on the planet — and in the workplace. Often technically adept, adaptable, and mission-driven, this highly capable generation of workers knows how to help employers weather economic storms and grow the bottom line. That’s why it’s essential that employers master millennial retention strategies.

Along with all the highly valuable traits millennial workers possess, they have also gained a reputation for job hopping. This is a bit unfair. After all, younger workers have always been more likely to switch jobs and even transition to new specialties and careers, than older workers.

That said, there are ways to increase your chances of holding on to your top-performing team members. The strategies can help your retention rates for these valuable employees.

1. Throw Out Your Old Management Playbook

Many employers are relying on the same HR tactics that have worked in the past. When strategies that have helped extend the tenures of workers from previous generations don’t work with millennials, employers tend to conclude that younger workers lack loyalty. This is not necessarily a fair assessment ⁠— and it certainly won’t help you retain younger workers longer.

Remember, millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, which means they likely had parents or neighbors who lost work during the Great Recession. They know that few companies offer long-term incentives like pensions any longer, that they can roll over their 401(k) accounts to an IRA or a new 401(k) fund when they transition to their next position, and they are understandably dubious of old axioms like “your loyalty will be rewarded in the long run.”

Millennials have a very different view of the workplace from the last large cohort, the baby boomers, as well as Gen X, the smaller cohort that followed on their heels. If you want to keep them engaged in their roles and contributing to your organization for longer, you need to understand what opportunities and incentives will resonate with them. You need to employ millennial retention strategies that have been proven to improve and extend tenure.

2. Let Them Know You Care

Instead of offering far-off incentives to encourage younger workers to stay on board longer, focus on developing millennial retention strategies designed to inspire and strengthen their engagement in their role, team, and your organization right now. The best way to do this is to focus on their future.

Millennials will work harder ⁠— and remain with your organization longer ⁠— if you convince them that you are invested in their success and their professional development beyond their current role.

Show Them You Care About Their Professional Growth

Millennials feel most valued when their employers are:

  • Actively investing in upskilling.
  • Providing educational and professional development opportunities, both onsite, online, and outside of the organization.
  • Offering benefits such as tuition reimbursement, student loan assistance, memberships in professional associations, and industry event attendance fees.

Show Them You Care About Their Well-being

Many millennials appreciate employers that demonstrate that they care about their physical and mental well-being, which can be accomplished by:

  • Offering robust healthcare benefits, including mental health coverage and an employee assistance program (EAP).
  • Providing onsite seminars and resources designed to reduce stress through strategies like yoga, meditation, and well-stocked break rooms.
  • Encouraging workers to use their PTO, including personal or mental health days to prevent burnout.

Show Them You Care About Community

According to data from multiple surveys, most millennials want to work for organizations that are not solely focused on short-term profit. That doesn’t mean you need to be running a non-governmental organization (NGO) to attract and retain them. But it does mean that profit-driven organizations should consider offering its employees ways to engage in community, social justice, or sustainability initiatives.

One of the most effective millennial retention strategies involves shifting your internal policies to reflect today’s job seeker (and consumer) marketplace. Demonstrate to millennial (and Gen Z) candidates and employees that you are serious about improving social justice issues like diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), disability accommodation, and accessibility within your organization, and not only will you stay on board longer, but they will also become brand ambassadors, singing your praises to other employees and potential customers and candidates

3. Let Them Know You Trust Them

Because autonomy is very important to most millennial workers, some of the most effective millennial retention strategies focus on providing employees with flexible options. Though they tend to flourish in a team-based organizational structure, they also like to be able to have a certain amount of freedom when it comes to determining their schedules and process. This allows them to leverage their strengths, including creativity, inventiveness, and problem-solving.

Offer them options such as , unlimited or undifferentiated PTO policies, and the ability to collaborate on their year-end or quarterly performance goals.

4. Leverage Their Sense of Fair Play

More than any generation before them, millennials believe that compensation models should be transparent and based on performance rather than seniority. They also believe that compensation, including bonuses, should be based on how well they work rather than how many hours they work. After all, we’ve all known the worker (or manager!) who can spend a lot of time accomplishing very little.

Effective millennial retention strategies align compensation and benefits policies equitably, especially across all categories of gender and cultural difference. Millennials are more likely to talk about salary with their peers than past generations. They are also more adept at and have more tools available to research compensation rates for their role and region. As a result, attempting to keep secret a wildly variable compensation structure is likely to backfire.

One way to make sure you are offering a fair wage is to use a salary tool that accounts for job title and geographic region to determine compensation rates for each role across your organization.

Millennials also expect a clear and transparent pathway to a promotion and higher compensation levels, so make sure your policies are clearly stated and readily available, and have managers go over them during performance reviews.

5. Offer Millennials Benefits That Appeal to Them

This does not mean adding ping pong and foosball tables to the break room. But it might mean offering remote or hybrid scheduling options or improving your workforce wellness efforts. It might mean getting creative with your incentive structure by, for example, assigning longer-term projects with a bonus tied to successful completion, and then making sure you have another one lined up when that one ends.

If you can employ millennial retention strategies that keep these highly valuable workers engaged and committed to your organization’s foundational values and mission, you stand a good chance of improving retention and benefitting from the efforts of your top-performing millennial team members for years to come.

Learn More About the Latest Employee Retention Tools and Strategies

Now that you’ve learned about some of the most effective millennial retention strategies, find out more about the latest management best practices, recruitment and hiring news, and ways to boost employee morale.