Embrace Millennials or Prepare to Lose Them

Attracting and retaining Millennials likely requires a change to your organization as a whole, starting with the need to accommodate diversity.


An essential element of any firm’s competitiveness is its ability to attract, retain and develop high-potential employees, and with Millennials becoming the largest demographic group in workforces, companies need less prescriptive and more engaging talent strategies.

Alissa Harrison, Senior Vice President of Programs at Muse Technologies, has studied the approaches used in developing millennial leaders, such as reverse mentoring and information and communications technology (ICT). While there is no single best way to attract and retain Millennials, Harrison suggests organizations begin by:

• Identifying benefits that target their needs (e.g., tuition assistance and student load relief) • Providing work-live balance incentives (e.g., using teleworking and advocating flexibility) • Connecting team with technology (e.g., offering tablets/smart devices for collaboration)

“Most importantly, let them be Millennials and not cookie-cutter versions of prior generations,” Harrison says. “Millennials are more socially cognizant and want to share this awareness with the organization. Encourage the use of social tools and let them productively help brand the organization using the technology du jour. Simply, embrace them or be prepared to lose them.”

When it comes to keeping Millennial employees happy, leadership is most important. Successful organizations demonstrate their strengths by providing leadership, decision-making and structure, managing people, effecting work processes and systems, and maintaining a culture that supports its mission and values.

Lead with trust, Harrison says. If the organizational leadership is not believable, connected and dependable, Millennials will not be engaged and you can expect them to leave. No one, especially Millennials, will follow an untrustworthy leader.

“Be a strong leader by inspiring them,” Harrison says. “Be action-orientated, be honest. You're not just trying to retain talent; you're trying to develop the competencies. Tap into what you're really truly trying to develop, and lean on the things that are the strengths of that individual to create that relationship.”

Implementing programs that embrace the benefits Millennials want versus what organizations think they need is a good first step. Include them in the process by asking them.

To better understand what your employees find most valuable, Harrison suggests using Talent Today, a tool similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It helps those developing the organization’s talent to understand which personal traits motivate their employees as well as the motivational factors that align them with the organization. Motivations can range from pay to security, to the need to belong.