Why should you have a strategy for engaging and retaining millennials? To start, the current workforce is 37% millennial… that’s 80 Million millennials!! Studies also show that by 2030 (or sooner), millennials will account for 75% of the workforce – you can do the math. Be sure your calculations include the average cost of turnover of between $15,000 – $25,000 per lost employee.

Millennial is the term used for those born between 1980 and 2000. They now range from college freshmen to adults in their late 30s. Negative stereotypes about millennials are abundant. Some say that millennials lack loyalty to an employer, have a poor work ethic, are addicted to technology, and have no respect for boundaries. However, studies have also found the majority of millennials are highly motivated, socially conscious, ambitious, and, think about this this, will take a pay cut to work for an organization with social purpose and that can make a meaningful difference in the world. No matter your beliefs, it is clear this generation thinks, behaves, and works in ways that previous generations had never experienced. Below are different strategies to help build tomorrow’s leaders.

1. Provide Frequent Feedback
Millennials want to receive feedback more frequently on how they are doing. Annual reviews simply just don’t cut it anymore. Even quarterly reviews may not be of sufficient frequency. Train your managers to give honest feedback in real time instead of waiting to conduct an “official” review. Most millennials can handle the critique of his or her job performance, but love when you highlight positive contributions and improvements frequently. Just think, a “great job on this project,” can make such a drastic impact on the millennial’s mindset.

2. Become More Effective with Benefits
A common frustration is that millennials are not very interested in managing their healthcare. Many have been or are still on their parent’s medical insurance. This results in the lack of necessity to become informed about benefits, until they are full-time employees at your company. Having HR spend the extra time to patiently educate the millennial about benefits will pay off in the long run. Show them how much the company is spending to subsidize the cost of their medical insurance and see if that doesn’t bump up their appreciation.
Also, think about new and unique benefits that can be more appealing to the young employee. For example, give employees the option to enroll in either a 401-k plan or a tuition/student loan assistance program. According to Gradifi, a student loan repayment solution for employers, “there’s a major mismatch between the benefits you’re offering and the benefits your employees want.” Think about it, who can focus on a retirement plan when drowning in student loan debt?

3. Continue to Train and Develop
Millennials want to feel valued wherever they work. Not only will a millennial become better educated and more effective when a company spends the time and money to invest in training and development, but they will also feel like an important “piece to the puzzle,” or asset to the organization. Unfortunately, training and development programs are first to go when budgets are reduced. When possible, give employees the access to developmental events, seminars and conferences. After all, career growth and professional development have been proven to be the top engagement factors for the young generation, and lack of continues to be one of the top reasons individuals leave a company.

4. Stay Competitive and Offer Flexibility
Finding the appropriate fit is as relevant to employees looking for the right organization to work for, as it is the organization looking for the right candidate to fill the position. A very employee-friendly job market results in high turnover when better pay is being offered elsewhere. Companies who constantly pay under the market price may wonder why they are losing employees so often. The reason is that there are competitors who understand that an above average compensation package will more likely retain an employee. So, what if you cannot afford to pay at the market price? Millennials are willing to take a lower salary when they are allowed more flexibility and freedom at work! Employees at Patagonia take every other Friday off, which allows them to have 3-day weekends bi-monthly. Be more creative on ways you can provide perks to employees, and make your organization a desirable place to work.

5. Think of Creative Perks!
Let’s face the reality – not every company can afford to offer the same perks as Patagonia, which has an estimated revenue of $209 million in 2017. Some of our clients have found creative ways to invest in employees, which undoubtedly aids in the retention of millennials. One of our clients is working on implementing a volunteerism initiative for their employees. Believe it or not, millennials view volunteerism as a perk and prefer to work with companies that give back to society. Our client is also working on becoming more modernized by switching to an online platform and app allowing for communication, collaboration, and learning on the go with colleagues. If millennials had the option to communicate via a techy app versus traditional email and messaging, which do you think they would choose?

I can imagine it would be very difficult to find a millennial who wouldn’t love to work for Bottle Logic Brewing in Anaheim, CA. They offer free (delicious) beer to their employees! This benefit alone would be enough to keep a millennial engaged, but there is more. They have fun employee trips, such as tours of local breweries in the San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange Country area. They also have company sponsored parties/get togethers and even took all employees plus their spouses to Disneyland for a much-deserved day of play. Bottle Logic also invites employees to travel for work, as they often visit different cities around the country for special events. How can working at Bottle Logic get any better for millennial employees? Pinball and arcade games in the office? Check. Did I mention free beer? Check. Any millennial would think twice (or three times) before considering working for a different company.

We hope our strategy provoked you to think of different ways you can engage and retain millennials! Tell us about yours in our LinkedIn!