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8 Great Ways to Retain Millennial Workers

8 Great Ways to Retain Millennial Workers

Show your millennial workforce that it’s appreciated and valued and you may be surprised at the great returns that you get on those efforts.


The Millenial Minute in this month’s issue of tED magazine delves into keeping your millennial employees engaged with a diverse workload and showing appreciation for their efforts. Turn to page 40 in the June issue to read that article, then read below to learn eight more ways to keep young employees encouraged and productive.


Unemployment is at a 50-year low. Competition for skilled workers is fierce. Employee turnover is expensive. The list of hiring challenges facing companies across all industries in 2019 is seemingly never-ending, and the fact that most of them lack a good strategy for attracting and keeping millennial workers isn’t helping.

Employee engagement, or what happens when workers can look at the whole of the company and understand their own purpose, and where and how they fit into the organization, is one problem area that companies often overlook.

“70% of American workers are disengaged and 55% say they’ll be looking for a new job this year,” says Cynthia Corsetti, an executive coach who specializes in employee engagement and is a former VP of human resources (HR) for a national engineering firm. “Millennials aren’t much different than any other employee, but they do have a much higher need to feel connected to their work.”

To harness this millennial trait and turn it into an advantage, Corsetti says distributors can do a better job of explaining the connections between a current task and the “bigger picture.” For example, that could mean showing a warehouse employee how her excellent fulfillment processes translate into happy customers and, subsequently, positive growth for the distributorship.

Employees also need ongoing encouragement that goes beyond just annual revenues and performance raises. “If you think of a child learning to ride a bike, you encourage that child at every step. First with training wheels, then with one training wheel, then with no training wheels,” Corsetti says. “It’s your constant positive feedback that helps the child stay focused and continue, even though it’s hard. Our employees (especially millennials) need the same thing.”


8 Millennial Retention Tips

Here are eight more strategies that electrical distributors can start using today to engage, appreciate, and retain their millennial workers:

  1. Dust off and update your company’s mission statement. Now more than ever, the reasons why your company makes decisions is extremely important. “The younger generations of employees want to feel like they’re making a difference and going to work with a purpose instead of showing up, getting a paycheck, and going home,” says Ladan Davia, founder and CEO of online job search portal “Millennials would rather work for a company they feel is doing the right thing or contributing positively to society versus making more money at a company that has an unknown mission statement.”
  2. Cultivate an environment of respect. “The days of screaming at employees and emotionally abusing them are over, and should have been over a long time ago,” Davia says. Now, there’s nothing wrong with pushing employees to meet their deadlines and step up to the plate during crunch time, but there is something wrong when employees feel degraded and worthless in their work environments. “Millennials and Gen Z workers both care about how they are spoken to at work,” Davia says, “and gravitate toward work cultures that are happy and positive, versus one that involves a dictator-type relationship.”
  3. Tap into the millennials’ need to flock. These younger workers are more likely to stay with an employer who has a group of millennial peers. That’s because they tend to bond more with co-workers of the same age and build long-lasting friendships. “These connections can help retention,” says Ruben Navarrete, CEO at employee engagement consultancy EmpowerPoints.com. He says distributors that offer social outlets and/or opportunities to socialize with work peers also see higher retention rates. “This might include golf and charity events, trade shows, and business travel with peers,” Navarrete adds.
  4. Stop being overly stringent with scheduling and sick days. “Employers need to change their outlook on sick days, as long as employees are respectful of a policy change and don’t abuse it,” Davia points out. For example, if an employee is sick, then he or she should be resting and recovering at home—not working. “This is something start-up and tech companies usually offer,” she says, “which is why they are so attractive to younger generations.” Plus, with the advancement of technology, work can also be done at home. “This revolves around an employer/employee trust that companies and hiring managers should try to form with their workforces,” Davia adds.
  5. Encourage innovation. Millennials are often painted as being entitled and this misperception can cause employers to miss out on the skills, tech-savvy, and innovativeness that these young workers bring to the workplace. From his experience speaking with millennial workers in high turnover industries such as construction, electricals, and retail, Chris Chancey says that a common reason why most leave is that they do not feel involved in projects that truly matter. “They want more than just a to-do list,” says Chancey, founder of Amplio Recruiting. “Instead, what really motivates millennials is genuine opportunities to learn, apply their ideas, and innovate.”
  6. Pair them up with mentors. Millennials bring plenty of enthusiasm to the job and they want to learn and progress in their careers. Distributors can leverage this by offering job shadowing opportunities in which an employee is allowed to sit in at meetings, make some decisions, and perform meaningful day to day tasks. “This is a great way to help employees feel like they are making a valuable contribution to the organization,” Chancey says. Electrical distributors can also experiment with “reverse mentoring,” in which a veteran employee is paired with a millennial who can share their tech/digital expertise, show the mentee how to use social platforms like Facebook, and so forth.
  7. Show regular appreciation. Quarterly or yearly performance reviews may have been enough for the older generation of workers, but today’s young workers expect daily or weekly feedback. More importantly, they want their efforts to be publicly acknowledged and appreciated whether that is during team activities or at leadership meetings. “In an age of social media and instant gratification,” Chancey says, “regular and public feedback can help younger workers feel more loyal to the company they work for.”
  8. Get them involved, and not just “putting in the hours.” The best thing electrical distributors can do to engage and retain their younger workers is to get them involved by transiting away from “putting in the hours” and over to “delivering work products.” To do that, HR specialist Laura Handrick says each employee needs to be asked about what part of their job is measurable and what makes sense. “Managers need to know each employee, not just in terms of their work personas, but also in terms of their motivations and interests,” says Handrick. “Where public praise may motivate one worker, for example, those public accolades may embarrass someone who prefers a quiet ‘thank you.’”


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Bridget McCrea  is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her at bridgetmc@earthlink.net or visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.

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