How to Retain Millennial Employees

This is not our parents’ generation.

Years ago, people retired from their first job after 30–40 years of service. In stark contrast, the newest generation has a reputation for job hopping—often with good reason.

No one expects millennials to retire from the companies that give them their first jobs. But as the economy continues to grow, only the most employee-focused cultures will retain millennials in the long term. Here’s how to do it.

1) Hire carefully. Agencies that boast lower-than-average millennial turnover claim it begins with hiring the right people. “Hiring for cultural fit and then training for job skills is critical,” says Carla Lynch, talent acquisition manager at Arbella Insurance Group in Quincy, Massachusetts. “We have a thorough interview process, which includes selection tools to assess right cultural match: people who are team-oriented, relationship-focused, resourceful and driven.” Selecting the right candidate for your workplace culture is the first step to a loyal workforce that delivers on your brand promise and is deeply involved in your agency’s success.

2) Take onboarding seriously. Helping millennials navigate the critical transition to a new company or role helps them avoid common pitfalls. In addition to job skills training, consider teaching new hires about your agency’s history, mission, vision and values so they have a true understanding of the company’s past and future goals. In addition to job-specific training, a cultural ambassador, peer mentor and plenty of supportive feedback help ensure employees know how to be successful.

3) Create an environment where millennials thrive. According to recent Gallup polls, millennials are the most likely generation to be disengaged due to disillusionment with career progress and lack of meaningful work. Creating an environment in which employees feel heard, respected and valued, with an opportunity to grow, requires clear commitment from the top. Leaders must set clear expectations and provide regular feedback to help millennials achieve their goals. Take a holistic approach and offer programs and education in line with employee career goals, but also support other interests like social, physical and financial health, as well as community involvement.

Gayle O’Connell is executive vice president of human resources & CMO at Arbella Insurance Group.

What Millennials Want

  • By 2020, 46% of the U.S. workforce will be millennials.
  • More than half (52%) of millennials say opportunities for career advancement make an employer attractive.
  • Millennials prioritize “meaningful work” (30%) over high pay (28%).
  • For 65% of millennials, personal development is the most influential factor in their current job.
  • 80% of millennials prefer to receive real-time feedback and frequent check-ins. —G.O.