How to retain younger generations in the workplace

By Clint Pulver | February 05, 2020

Clint Pulver at a recent event

Do you want your people to stay working for you long-term? In our research with the Undercover Millennial Program, the number one contributing factor as to how great leaders create organizations that people never want to leave is quite simply the individual leaders and their leadership style. Managers are the number one reason why people stay and they're the number one reason why people leave. How to create better workplace loyalty comes back to leadership - the choices that you make as a manager matter. What’s even more compelling is a leader who is a great mentor. That is the key. It’s mentorship versus management. This leads to increased loyalty and higher engagement. 

Mentors are people that connect mentees to their dreams. The advocacy of people is just as important as the development. Ask yourself, do you know your people's dreams? How do you expect to create loyalty when you're not considering the other person? It's the power of a win-win relationship. It's the power of true connection.

Bring humanity back into the workplace

You have to get to the part about the employee. I think that every employee is always asking, “Let me know when it gets to the part about me. Let me know when your vision, the company goals, your quota requirements consider me and my dreams.” Some leaders and businesses hear that response and they think, “They're so entitled,” or “They just want us to give them more. It's not about entitlement; it's about bringing humanity back into the workplace.

When you step into that mentorship role, you become a person that people want to be with. You become the person that people experience their best selves with. You become the catalyst that allows them to grow. We found that great mentors in organizations are incredible at what I call “sparking the possibilities for their people.” Do you spark possibility?

The possibility to survive and also thrive? Those are two things that every employee asks a boss, “Can you help me survive and thrive?” The survival part is all about “Can I pay my bills? Do you pay competitively? Am I going to be able to support a family?” But then the second piece is the thrive part. It’s the intangible things that employees look for. Not tangible. During our research for the Undercover Millennial Program, no employee ever said to me, “The reason I work here is because we throw the sickest Christmas parties,” or “I work here because we have ping pong tables.” 

Now, those were definitely perks but they were not the underlying reason as to what built strong and lasting loyalty. It was always a greater focus on the intangibles. “My manager believes in me, they recognize me. There was this time when I was struggling personally and my manager stepped in and became an advocate. My manager cared.” They said, “You know what, you have a life outside of work and I understand that. So how can I help you?” That is what they talk about. These are the things that really matter. 

Recognize potential and worth in your people 

What we found is these managers and mentors are really good at doing two things. They create an opportunity where they communicate the potential and the worth of their people. Those two things, potential and worth - that’s what matters. 

You need consistent recognition for good performance, achievement and results. When's the last time you sat down with your employee and said, “I just want you to know, this is what I see you becoming in this organization”? That simple moment gives employees the opportunity to know that there's potential. Do you create growth opportunities for your people?

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