How to Engage and Retain Millennial Employees

One of the hottest topics in the relocation industry is millennials. And it’s for good reason –  millennials makeup nearly a third of the labor market today and are estimated to reach 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025. Therefore treating their needs and preferences as passing fads isn’t the best strategy. It’s critical to assess how your organization recruits, relocates, and retains this population.

Don’t be too hands-off with millennials when it comes time to relocate

One of the defining qualities of this group is their preference to manage things themselves, relying on “on-demand” tools that they can access whenever they want, without having to go through another person. This is in stark contrast to previous generations who put a premium on having a relocation coordinator walk them through each step of the moving process.

So, should you shift your relocation strategy to simply making sure your younger employees can readily access all the details about their move and let them decide what is best for themselves? Not exactly.

It is a smart move to give them all the details relating to their relocation that they might need. Transparency and accessibility are two incredibly important qualities to millennials. But, you also need to give them some guidance on what they should do with that information, especially if you’ve given them a lump sum. Here are some specific tips to keep in mind:

All flash, no substance online tools

There’s been some amazing advancements when it comes to relocation technology over the past decade. However, a flashy website or mobile app can only help so much. Rarely – if ever – is any one move the same, and thinking that a digital tool can handle those inevitable curveballs is a tall order. While millennials don’t necessarily want a person to facilitate every step, it is important that they have access to a relocation expert should things go awry or they have a question that they can’t answer themselves.

Uberification” is a term that’s impacting virtually all businesses, and the relocation industry is no different. Understandably, people, especially younger individuals, want answers and services at the push of a button. While HR managers and relocation companies need to work together to find ways to meet this growing preference, it’s important that companies still give guidance and have resources and experts available that can help relocating employees should a problem arise.

Too good to be true deals

Millennials are still more likely to receive a lump sum than a traditional relocation package. Knowing how to budget a lump sum is one of the most important, but trickiest, aspects of a relocation. Many young professionals, especially if they’ve never used a professional moving company before, are unaware of the costs associated with it. And this is where rogue moving companies find their victims. They offer people significantly cheaper online quotes, only to charge thousands of dollars to release a customer’s belongings from the moving truck. There are few relocation problems that can cause more stress and anger with a transferee who’s preparing for a new position.

Four ways to engage and retain millennials in the workplace

In addition to being more “on-demand” than other generations, Gallup reports millennials also are the generation most likely to switch jobs, costing the economy and businesses more than $30 billion annually. As the number of millennial employees in your company grows, it’s becoming more and more important to create a workplace that meets their preferences.

So how can employers appeal to millennials in hopes of increasing retention? It’s simple – keep them engaged and make them feel valued. Here are four tips for keeping millennials engaged and increasing retention.

Consider millennial feedback when defining company culture

Millennials want a career in a workplace that makes them feel fulfilled, not just a paycheck. According to a study by Fidelity, millennials are willing to take an average pay cut of $7,600 in exchange for working for a company that offers meaningful work and an overall better company culture.

What defines “better” company culture and meaningful work to millennials? Ask them. Spend resources on research to learn what matters to millennials: What they look for in a company when job searching and what defines a great company culture. Also, be sure to involve your current millennial employees in leadership and decision making. Let them have an influence in your company’s culture as it continues to grow and evolve.

Offer career development and encourage community involvement

Gallop reports 87 percent of millennials say job development is important in a job. Offer opportunities that will help your millennial employees learn and grow personally and professionally. Set aside a budget for employees to participate in professional organizations, attend conferences and take online courses. Help them build their networks by providing recommendations of local opportunities in which they can participate, like monthly industry luncheons or non-profit boards. You can help them stay focused by working with them to set quarterly and annual goals for developing new skills and technology.

Connect and engage millennials with veteran employees

While the millennial generation is on its way to representing the majority of the work force, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are still the most tenured. Consider adopting a mentorship program for new millennial hires. Mentorship programs are becoming more standard in the workplace with more than 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies offering them. Mentors can play a major role in keeping employee turnover rates low and serve as an engaging resource to millennial employees.

Schedule regular face-to-face meetings with millennial employees

Millennials want consistent feedback and recognition for their work, but employee engagement among older bosses and younger employees is often lacking. Try meeting with millennial employees more often than just during an annual review. Schedule quarterly or even monthly meetings to catch up, acknowledge their work and both collect and provide constructive feedback.

Does your global mobility program exclude millennials? You might want to rethink that.

Another way to energize and retain millennials is to offer them opportunities that align with their broader life goals. And for many, that includes working abroad. However, international assignments traditionally have been reserved for more senior employees who had the necessary expertise, and to some degree, had earned the opportunity after years of service. All of this makes sense, especially given how much of an investment an international assignment is – on average, $76,000.

But more and more, millennial employees are raising their hand for these opportunities. While it might be easy to quickly dismiss their requests for the aforementioned reasons, it’s important for HR managers to consider the reasons behind this trend and why it’s one they should work with – instead of against.

More than a job

One of the biggest differences between millennials and their older colleagues is how they view their job as more than a means to make a living. They want to be able to find meaning and purpose in their work. This is not to say that they are somehow more noble and less greedy than previous generations, but they simply get restless in homogeneous work environments and want opportunities that fulfill both personal and professional aspirations.

Improved retention 

As previously noted, millennials are more likely than other generations to change jobs more frequently.

This may seem like all the more reason why you shouldn’t consider millennials for international assignments, given how much an investment they are. But there are ways to curb millennials’ wandering eyes, so to speak.

The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey points to neglect and lack of career development as millennials’ reasons for leaving a job. Conversely, those that feel support and encouragement for taking on leadership roles are more likely to stay with a company for more than five years. Not just acquiescing to their demands but building a global mobility program that encourages millennial participation could have a positive impact on your retention rates – and ultimately your bottom line.

Better leaders

But a successful global mobility program should have higher aspirations than simply curbing employee turnover. It should be a career development tool that shapes your organization’s future leaders. Fortunately, according to the Brookfield 2016 Global Mobility Trends Survey, the biggest impact that international assignments have on employees’ careers is that they make them better leaders. Obviously, it’s critical that you have a clear plan in place for them upon returning so they see a career progression and aren’t left wondering what’s next for them with your company.

Who you select for international assignments still requires considerable thought and attention to help ensure success, but excluding younger employees simply because of their age or lack of seniority could be hurting your company in the long term, especially with millennials making up more and more of the job market.

As millennials continue to dominate the global workforce, make every effort to engage them and prepare them for a future in your company. A smooth relocation is a necessary first step so they start off on the right foot, which should then be followed by retention and development strategies that align with their interests.