Tips for Managing and Retaining Your Millennials

By Daniel Abramson, CTS, President of Staffdynamics

There’s a lot of literature out there in Internet-land regarding how millennial workers (born 1982 – 2002) are different from previous generations (especially Boomers, 1946 – 1964), and how they have to be treated differently in the workplace.

This information should be very important to all of us, since the projections say that by 2025, 75 percent of the entire U.S. workforce will be made up of millennials.  It’s an issue that will clearly continue to be at the forefront.

I was excited to hear Jason Dorsey speak about millennials in Nashville at the Summit. I thought he did a great job of framing the overall discussion with interesting anecdotes and a lot of positive energy. 

At the same time, I think Dorsey would agree that, given enough time, there is much more practical detail that could be incorporated. With that in mind, I offer the following 6.5 action items to be added to the conversation:      

  1. Millennials are loyal to people, not companies. Given the disruptions they’ve seen in labor markets over the past 20 years, they would rather hitch their wagons to a good and trustworthy leader than to a massive corporate entity. If you want to inspire and retain your millennials, become that good leader and mentor
  2. Millennials value time differently than prior generations, viewing it as something to spend rather than invest. “Work-life balance” is not just a mantra; it’s something they actively pursue, regarding the job as a way to get from one free-time activity to the next. The manager who honors the (reasonable) personal time-off plans of his or her employees will experience lower turnover. 
    Even so, be mentally prepared for the day when one of your best employees takes three months off to travel to 12 countries around the globe… or to mountain bike the trails of British Columbia.
  3. As Dorsey pointed out in Nashville, many millennials are experiencing “delayed adulthood,” living at home until well into their 30s. This trend is most often driven by economic pressure – either the price of housing is higher locally than they can swing, or they are staggering under astronomical debt from college loans, or both. This living at home trend further fuels entitlement.
    To address this issue, some companies now offer college loan reimbursements as an incentive for signing on and meeting certain benchmarks. Other businesses could institute a modified version of this concept as well.
  4. Encourage difference. Many millennials want to work in a group comprised of people with a variety of backgrounds. Allow your millennials to express and enjoy those differences in your workplace, setting minimal, non-judgmental standards for office and store attire. 
  5. Keep it in the NOW. Millennials don’t trust long-range strategic plans – you can save those for the corporate biggies. Keep your group’s time horizon close, focusing on tomorrow, next week, and maybe next month. Forget the 3-5-year plan for now.
  6. Foster collaboration. More than any other generational group, millennials have been brought up to collaborate rather than compete. Do as much of your work as you can in cooperative groups and provide modest group and individual rewards for appropriate accomplishments, such as like a group picnic or a few hours off with pay. And don’t forget the selfie walls and participation certificates!

    6.5 Why this crazy number? To make an important point: If you can’t give a Millennial everything he or she wants, meet him or her, as the song says, “…  in the middle.”

Millennials are a lot like other business people. They understand setting goals, lowering costs and selling more, and are open to working for a longer-term payoff if it comes with short-term perks for achievement. 

Set some ground rules you can enforce, then make some promises you can keep. Meet your millennials halfway, updating them frequently, and maintaining short time intervals for monitoring and rewarding their project and production achievements.

Daniel Abramson, CTS, President of Staffdynamics is an accomplished author of two books, sought-after speaker, sales trainer and business coach. He has focused on workforce performance strategies and “raising the bar” for over 25 years. Daniel lives in the Washington, DC area and can be reached at: or 877-568-2222.

Is 6.5 the total answer? No, but it’s a start!

YSN is published by BrandSource parent company AVB Inc.

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