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Retaining Millennials in the Enterprise

Posted on 5.26.2016

By Allison Howen, Associate Editor


The only thing more difficult than finding an employee with an outstanding work ethic and vast, impressive skillset is keeping them.

Employee retention is an often-ignored topic that is increasingly becoming a problem in modern enterprises. This is likely due to the growing number of millennials (adults born between 1981-1997) in the workplace, who have a reputation of moving from one opportunity to the next fairly quickly. In fact, a recent study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that adults born in the early 1980s average 7.2 jobs from age 18 through 28. Of all jobs held by these workers, 37 percent ended in less than six months.

Failure when it comes to employee retention not only creates a workload problem, as other employees are left to pick up an exiting colleague's workload, but it's also a cost issue as enterprises are once again forced to find and train new talent to fill the void. To make sure good hires stick around, many enterprises are focusing on their retention strategies.

While perks like paid time off and insurance benefits may not cut it anymore, there are other options that will gain a millennial employee's loyalty.

Encourage the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Millennials aren't jumping ship because they are fickle; many are simply looking for a new challenge or an opportunity to make an impact with their work.

Data from Bentley University shows that 66 percent of millennials' career goals include starting their own business. Enterprises can hone in on this entrepreneurial spirit by providing their workforce with in-house opportunities to lead. Microsoft, for instance, offers an outlet for employee projects called "Microsoft Garage," which gives small teams of employees an opportunity to embrace their inner innovator and work on projects outside of their typical duties. Many staff members have taken advantage of the program to explore ideas and create apps, which not only gives them a chance to work on something they are passionate about, but also gives Microsoft insight into what concepts are resonating with consumers of that same demographic.


Drive into the Garage

Check out seven cool apps from Microsoft Garage at wsm.co/7garage.


Microsoft isn't, of course, the only big-name tech company helping employees tap into their entrepreneurial spirit. Recent rumors suggest Google is offering a similar initiative called "Area 120."

According to a report from The Information, Area 120 is an incubator to help employees maintain an entrepreneurial vibe. To be a part of the program, Google teams must apply by submitting a business plan and then pitch Google for additional funding.

Good Ol' Fashion Incentives

Incentivizing employees can sometimes be the best motivator. Snow Software, for example, rewards its workforce with an all-inclusive trip to Engelberg, Switzerland if the company meets its target profit for the year. The four-day trip is called the "Gold Team" experience. Snow's entire staff of more than 400 employees is able to go on the trip, regardless of where they are located or how long they have been with the company. With a reported 90 percent growth last year, the incentive appears to be working. Every company doesn't have the means to offer an all-inclusive trip, of course, but there are other ways to incentivize employees. Quora, for instance, recently launched a new cash rewards program called Knowledge Prizes. The program allows a sponsor to signal they think a question is particularly important by offering a financial prize for the best new answer. The sponsor can also pick the cash-prize winner - all while remaining anonymous.

Since Quora can be a great marketing tool (learn how to use the Q&A service to build a backlink strategy for SEO at wsm.co/quoraqa), brands could theoretically leverage Knowledge Prizes to sponsor brand-related questions and reward the employees who have the best answers. This strategy not only motivates employees, but also helps enterprises create a makeshift native advertisement for their brand on the Q&A site.

Create #SquadGoals

For those who might not know, "squad goals" is an inspirational term - often used by millennials - for what they'd like their group of friends to be or accomplish (Urban Dictionary).

In the enterprise, it is important for employees' squad goals to be heard so that a team atmosphere can be cultivated. Take FreightCenter as an example. The company has implemented employee-led committees with volunteers who meet bi-weekly to discuss how to make the workplace more enjoyable.

The Culture and Community Committee, for instance, acts as the voice of the company to get new policies, events and benefits approved. The Health and Wellness Committee on the other hand, discusses ways to promote a healthier lifestyle at work.

MetroStar Systems is another company that focuses on cultivating a team atmosphere. The company hosts a variety of activities, from hack-a-thons to pizza parties to pancake breakfasts (see image).

The goal of these activities is to bring employees together and enable team building outside the typical office structure.

Meeting Expectations

It is important that enterprises provide the best possible working atmosphere for their employees. Doing so promotes engagement, a better work culture and loyalty. Plus, by meeting millennials' expectations, companies will be better prepared for the next generation of professionals.


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