Developing And Retaining The Millennials On Your Team

By Ted Stoa
Consultant/Trainer, The Village Business Institute

Millennials want to work for companies that are “good corporate citizens.” They are team oriented, socially responsible and achievement driven. They are not, however, particularly loyal to employers who do not provide them with what they see as essential. A recent Deloitte survey indicated two-thirds of millennials expect to leave their present organizations over the next four years. Our ability to attract, develop and retain these future leaders is essential to our organizational success.

Let’s discuss a few of the “essentials” in motivating and retaining your millennial workforce.

  • Millennials as a group want to work for organizations that have core values and a mission that has meaning. Most of us, from whatever generation, probably feel the same way. Therefore it is essential we not only have a solid base of core values in our organizations, but that we actually live them. As Jim Collins states, our values must be, “Timeless Guiding Principles, deeply ingrained, guiding all of a company’s actions.”
  • If we are managing and leading millennials we must remember in a world that increasingly relies on technology, the millennial has always known technology and the Internet. We, as managers and leaders, must be willing to learn and use multiple channels of communication and become more technologically proficient. As a member of the “baby boomer” generation I have found it both necessary and rewarding to learn some of these tools from the younger generations.

    Millennials have been taught to question everything always wanting to know “why.”
  • As employees, millennials are less inclined to blindly follow orders and are more comfortable understanding the big picture and their part in it. They have been taught to question everything, always wanting to know “why.” This tendency to ask why is a powerful tool by which a manager can create solid buy-in from the millennial employee. We need to take the time and explain the rationale behind the decision and expect and embrace an additional question or two. We may, to our surprise, gain additional insight into the decision. Millennials also need to be made aware of the vast amount of experience and knowledge available in the previous generation’s workforce. As they become leaders themselves, millennials would be wise to learn from the experience, work ethic, and determination previous generations have brought to the job. As Ken Blanchard once said “None of us is as smart as all of us.”
  • Millennials value teamwork and believe it produces the best outcomes. They are, as a group, achievement-orientated and want a challenging work environment. Therefore it is essential for us to continually challenge, empower, recognize and reward the millennial (and the team) for their contributions. Open communication with a large degree of transparency is also a valuable asset in achieving successful, high-performing teams. In order to motivate these future leaders, we must give them opportunities to innovate and create.
  • Millennials need training and development to keep them engaged and to build their skill level. Developing today’s millennial workforce will require both formal, structured training and more informal, on-demand learning opportunities. A recent DDI study discovered the need for “soft skills” training as well. It is estimated that for every $1,100 an employer invests for soft skill training they earn and average return of $4,000. Development of these skills are especially important for the millennial worker.
  • Finally, millennial employees want mentors. They view a mentor as a meaningful contributor to their personal growth. Millennials consider them confidantes – wiser individuals who can provide guidance. Organizations should encourage their older, experienced employees to reach out to their younger counterparts by highlighting the benefits of mentorship for both mentee and mentor. The mentor not only gives but receives as well.

Every generation, much like every individual, contributes new and varied skills to the team. Let’s be the kind of leader that values the growing diversity in the workplace because it is essential for our organization’s success. Millennials are the inevitable leaders of tomorrow, and we can – through better understanding – lead, mentor, and equip them for challenges ahead.


About the author

Ted Stoa
Ted Stoa

Theodore (Ted) Stoa has a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a Masters of Business Administration degree from the University of Mary. Stoa is a former business owner and KFC franchisee owning and operating multiple restaurant’s in South Dakota for over 25 years. He has also owned a financial services company and recently served as Operations Manager for Steffes Corporation Grand Forks.

With over 30 years of business leadership experience, Stoa provides consulting and training services that include: Business Succession Planning, Leadership Development, Franchise Selection Process, LEAN Process Improvement Training and Creating and maintaining your Organizational Culture.