RollWhy do companies, large and small, spend so much time worrying about how to retain millennial (aka: Gen. Y) employees? Well, aside from the big expense they incur for recruiting and training millennial talent, there’s something else.

According to the Employment Policy Foundation (EPF), our country is at the beginning of a labor shortage of approximately 35 million skilled and educated workers, which is estimated to continue over the next two decades. Plus, baby boomers are currently reaching retirement age at an estimated rate of 1 every 8 seconds.

As a result, executive teams are investing a lot of time and money into learning how to effectively retain their “top” younger talent. Although this may seem odd to some, smart companies understand that the future success of their companies depends on their ability to retain millennial employees.

And since 75 percent of the U.S. workforce will be made up of millennials by 2025, companies do need to invest in understanding this new generation at work now

To give your company an edge in retaining your much-needed millennial talent, consider the following five strategies that many well-known organizations are implementing:

1. Communication Is Key: In a survey conducted by Yahoo! HotJobs and Robert Half International, over 60 percent of Millennials responded that they want to communicate with their managers at least once a day. Unfortunately, many members of “older” generations feel that communicating that often with employees is cumbersome, but the millennials require it, or they will leave. Thus, smart companies are requiring managers of millennials to accommodate this need.

2. Training and Development Are Critical: According to a recent national survey, millennials rated training and development as an employee benefit 3 times higher than they rated cash bonuses. And they not only want skill-based training; they want training on soft skills, too. Sessions on topics like personal branding for career success are amongst their top picks.

3. Rapid Advancement Alternatives: You don’t always have to give Millennials a raise or promotion to keep them happy; being creative with increased responsibility can work great! Millennials have fast minds and get bored quickly, but it’s your job as their employer to help eliminate the “boredom” factor. Find creative ways to give them more responsibility, such as letting them do one or more of the following:

  • Start, or write for, your org’s blog.
  • Set up, or participate in, your org’s Facebook page or other social media networks.
  • Contribute to, or start, your org’s e-newsletter.
  • Research and set up a new software solution or develop new processes that can improve how your company runs.

4. Mentor Programs: This is key! Millennials have grown up with a lot of guidance from their parents, society, and teachers. They truly value and seek handholding at work. So, please heed this advice: 98 percent of millennials surveyed said that mentorship was important to their career success. Plus, I’ve spoken with countless millennials who have quit jobs quickly because they were promised mentorship, but never received it.

5. Foster a Leadership Mindset: The sooner you can educate your millennial team members on the attributes of being a respected leader, the sooner they’ll start acting like leaders. And emphasizing that everything they say and do either strengthens or weakens their personal brand(s) can quickly provide them with a new perspective that can improve the behavior that may be frustrating you.

Finally, it’s important to remember that millennials’ wants and needs aren’t much different from those of older generations; they just have a lower tolerance threshold than generations before them. A boomer may put up with a job for five years even if they are bored or don’t feel valued, but a millennial may only tolerate it for five months.

That said, what can your company begin doing differently to ensure that you don’t lose your top millennial talent to the competition? Savvy organizations are being proactive with developing retention strategies versus being reactive. Are you?

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