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How to Retain Millennial & Gen Z Women Employees

It’s not a question of “if” but rather “when” the promising new grad you just hired begins looking for her next job. The numbers don’t lie: Generation Z and Millennial women are only staying at their jobs for an average of 18 months. In comparison, the national average for salaried employees is 4.6 years, according to an Economic News Release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The American workforce has changed dramatically since Millennials came on the scene. This phenomenon has left many employers wondering how they can best engage, reward and retain employees. Today, especially with a historically low national unemployment rate, companies cannot afford to lose their ambitious new talent. The costs of turnover and training can add up in ways that go beyond the measure of profit margins. Reputation, recruitment, and employee turnover can add up to about half of an employee's annual salary. If you want to retain Millennials, your organization’s leadership must give them better reasons to stay.

Give them a voice

Invest time in building an environment of trust. The ‘trust fall’ and workshop icebreakers facilitated by your management team aren’t enough anymore. Create a “culture” of conversation. If you don’t create an environment where feedback runs both ways, unengaged and burned-out employees will plan their escape behind your back. Opening the lines of communication is the first step in keeping your team engaged and in their roles.

Millennials who believe their company has a high trust culture are over 22 times more likely to want to work there longer. Take the time to ask your employees and team members what’s working, and what’s not. Ensure to demonstrate that you value each opinion. Ask questions. Honor feedback. Be transparent. Make the workplace an environment where people will want to stay for more than 18 months.

Give them meaning

As a leader, it is your responsibility to find rewards that mean something to your employees. Millennials started their careers in a culture that throttled the idea of work-life balance. Now that they make up half the workforce, they’re eager to flip the rules. So, why not do it with them?

Bentley University conducted a study in conjunction with KRC Research firm revealing that 77% of millennials felt flexible work hours would make the workplace more productive for people their age. More importantly, the same study found that 80% of millennials believe they will work for four or fewer companies in their lifetime, and 36% of millennials expect to stay in their current job for at least 4 to 5 years.

Millennials intend to be loyal to employers, but they are ultimately looking out for themselves. If they do not see these benefits in their current company, they will look elsewhere. The bottom line is Millennials value independence and flexibility. They are more mobile, well-traveled, and value jobs that don’t make them check who they are at the door. Find ways to reward their contributions with perks that match their values—whether it be flexible hours, work from home time, sponsoring attendance at conferences that match their professional interests, or others.

Give them a community

If you want to keep your promising new grad hire, build them a community. If going out to lunch for office birthdays is your idea of satisfying employee engagement, it’s time for you to rethink the way you’re doing things. Millennials are happiest when they feel genuinely connected to their co-workers. Find projects and opportunities for Millennials to get involved in teams and projects that matter to them. Tap into the needs of the “wellness generation” by making sure employees’ physical and mental health is being considered.

Give them your story

To avoid the ‘18 month turn-around’, I strongly suggest that leaders tell stories that make people trust them with power. Anecdotal insights are severely under-resourced assets in the workplace. Chances are you've been in their same shoes from time to time, and surprisingly, vice versa.

People enjoy connecting; after all, that’s what this is all about.

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