Strategic HR

3 Rules to Engage and Retain Millennials in The Workplace

by Genevieve Carlton, talent management consultant, Caliper

It’s no secret that Millennials, the generation of workers who are now between the ages of 18 to 34, have been on the receiving end of some less-than-positive reviews in the media lately. All you have to do is Google the phrase “Millennials in the workplace” and you will find articles titled “Why You Can’t Fill Sales Positions with Millennials” and “Why Millennials Struggle for Success.”

In light of this, you may be tempted, like several of my clients, to focus your hiring on more experienced workers, as opposed to recruiting talented younger candidates who you can train and develop.

However, if you opt for that strategy it may prove to be a short-lived option, given that Millennials have now overtaken the Baby Boom as America’s largest generation – Millennials already form 25% of the workforce in the U.S. and by 2020, will make up 50% of the global workforce.

Clearly, if growth is in your company’s near future, engaging and retaining Millennials are key challenges.

The good news…

So, you might find it comforting to learn that, given the size and diverse nature of this cohort, there’s a bright side to the picture that isn’t always captured by the media. The key to recruiting Millennials and then retaining them is to know what characteristics and motivators your roles require, so you can design your hiring process to identify those things.

Next, it is important to identify your company culture accurately, and understand what it offers a new hire. After you have that information, you can use that use that to help you identify the candidates who are the best possible fit.

Here are three rules to help you with that process.

The 1st rule of engagement: Understand what motivates them.

Millennials are looking for meaningfulness at work. Many Millennials look to work for organizations that will fit their social lifestyle and that will provide them with a sense of purpose.

Offering flextime opportunities, opportunities to attend social events with coworkers or the ability to work in a collaborative space, and showing them exactly how their work impacts the big picture will provide a sense of motivation to this cohort.

The 2nd rule of engagement: Find the right fit!

With any open position, you have to make sure that you have the right fit for your organization and that your organization is the right fit with the employee. By utilizing the insights from a personality assessment, like the Caliper Profile, you will be able to see immediately if their personality will work effectively with the open role. When personality and job requirements mesh well, your employee will feel more engaged and more willing to contribute over the long term if the role plays to their strengths and interests.

The 3rd rule is the charm: Maximize their strengths

Finding the right fit and playing to their motivations is just a piece of what will help you retain Millennial talent. Providing opportunities to leverage their strengths in the current role, as well as providing stretch assignments down the road, will allow them to flex their workplace muscles and further contribute in a greater capacity.

Millennials tend to want reinforcement and they want to know that they can grow with your company. So use their strengths in work groups, give them special assignments, and show that you are truly interested in their career progression.

Although much of what we hear in the media about the large Millennial generation may seem daunting, it really can become a positive for your company. This group has talents to contribute. They are technologically savvy, they are looking for meaningful work, and they have the motivation to succeed – quickly. Providing special opportunities and being open to their motivations will help you leverage their abilities and provide a diverse work environment from which to grow.

Genevieve Carlton In her role as a Talent Management Consultant, Genevieve Carlton consults with clients in private industry, government, and higher education.

Prior to joining Caliper, she was Associate Director of Career and Employment Services at La Salle University, where she was part of a team that developed an award-winning career guidance model focusing on personal assessment. She also acted as a recruiting manager for the University’s newly formed M.B.A. program. In addition, she has worked in private industry as a Marketing Consultant for a solar company. She has extensive experience in coaching, motivational speaking, and career development, and hosts workshops related to mindfulness and decision-making techniques.

Ms. Carlton earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Bard College and a Master of Arts in Counseling Services from Rider University, where she focused on assessments, adult development, and career-decision theory. She is also a Certified Career Coach and a 25-year member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

  • Hiring managers can and should know before the job offer is made whether or not an applicant will be engaged if hired. Those that won’t be engaged should not be hired.

    My VP at HQ did a pilot study for a police department in a major Texas city. After assessing 8 patrol officers he briefed the group of senior officers on how each assessed patrol officer would react when stressed. The senior officers found the briefing quite interesting. When told that Officer John should not be assigned to SWAT because, “he won’t listen and is too emotional,” the Chief laughed like hell and said, “That is exactly why we had to remove him from our SWAT team.”

    ≈ 80% of employees self-report that they are not engaged.
    ≈ 80% of managers are ill suited to effectively manage people.
    * The two 80 percents are closely related.

    Employers keep hiring the wrong people to be their managers and then they wonder why they have so few successful, engaged employees. Successful employees have all three of the following success predictors while unsuccessful employees lack one or two and usually it is Job Talent that they lack.
    I. Competence
    II. Cultural Fit
    III. Job Talent

    Employers do a…
    A. GREAT job of hiring competent employees, about 95%
    B. good job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture, about 70%
    C. POOR job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture and who have a talent for the job, about 20%

    Identifying the talent required for each job seems to be missing from talent and management discussions. If we ignore any of the three criteria, our workforce will be less successful with higher turnover than if we do not ignore any of the three criteria.
    I. Competence
    II. Cultural Fit
    III. Job Talent

    There are many factors to consider when hiring and managing talent but first we need to define talent unless “hiring talent” means “hiring employees.” Everyone wants to hire for and manage talent but if we can’t answer the five questions below with specificity, we can’t hire or manage talent effectively.
    A. How do we define talent?
    B. How do we measure talent?
    C. How do we know a candidate’s talent?
    D. How do we know what talent is required for each job?
    E. How do we match a candidate’s talent to the talent demanded by the job?

    Most managers cannot answer the five questions with specificity but the answers provide the framework for hiring successful employees and creating an engaged workforce.

    Talent is not found in resumes or interviews or background checks or college transcripts.

    Talent must be hired since it cannot be acquired or imparted after the hire.