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3 ways to retain your millennial employees

ASSOCIATIONS NOW, February 2008 Intelligence

By: Ryan Healy


I’m sure by now we have all heard the horror stories about this new crop of “millennial” employees entering the workforce. You know, the ones who believe they’re entitled to a huge salary and corner office just for showing up.

The truth is, this new generation does have different expectations. We’re not interested in slowly climbing the corporate ladder, and we’re not interested in sacrificing our lives for a paycheck. It’s all about personal growth, passion, and a fun work environment.

But just because we’re different doesn’t mean we won’t work hard; it is possible to keep your young employees interested and motivated. Here are three simple ways to do it.

Show the big picture. If you’re going to confine your employees to a cubicle and monotonous work, at least let them know how their contributions fit in the framework of the organization.

If you recruited well, your new employees will be ambitious and curious to learn everything they can about your association. They will be dying to see, firsthand, how a successful organization functions.

Sit your new hire down for 30 minutes with a few PowerPoint slides. Show her where she fits in the grand scheme of things and how she can move up the ladder or across the organization.

Make work social. A social life is right at the top of every young person’s priority list, so keep your young employees happy by making your work environment social.

Google has perfected the social work environment. Employees hang out on brightly colored bean bag chairs, they have an onsite gym and onsite dry cleaning, and they serve free lunch and dinner at headquarters.

All of this creates a collaborative work environment and encourages employees to befriend their coworkers. If the majority of my friends are also my coworkers, there’s no need to go running for the doors at 5 p.m.

Of course, not every company can be Google, but a biweekly happy hour is a good start!

Two-way feedback. Young employees want feedback and lots of it. We grew up with parents telling us we did a great job on the soccer field and teachers constantly offering up criticism of our PowerPoint projects.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just praise we’re looking for. If your young worker is doing something wrong, provide constructive criticism and offer practical advice.

Giving feedback is the easy part. If you really want to connect with your millennial workers, ask for some feedback yourself. We’re team players, but the unspoken rules of corporate hierarchies don’t make much sense to us. If you ask, I’ll happily tell you my honest opinion of your management style.

Retaining your entry-level employees is really all about the little things. Communicate and take an interest in your employee’s career. I guarantee the response will be positive.

Ryan Healy is a millennial entrepreneur, writer, and cofounder of Employee Evolution (, a blog devoted to helping twentysomethings navigate the working world. Email:


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