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Keeping Talented Millennials Happy in the Workplace


Ask a millennial for his/her thoughts on an ideal company workplace. The first three places are likely to be Facebook, Yahoo, and Google. Why? Because those companies keep their employees happy.

Baby Boomers and some Gen X’ers probably scorn the idea of keeping employees “happy.” In this economy especially, people ought to be happy to have a job and should be working to keep their bosses “happy.”

What they don’t understand, however, is that millennials have a very different perception of work, and it is not putting in 50-hour weeks and sacrificing their personal lives, as their parents and grandparents have done. And companies that don’t embrace this new perception are likely to see high turnover and the loss of some very talented employees. And given that millennials will make up 75% of the workforce within the next nine years, this could be a problem.

So, if you are not Facebook and never will be, what can you do to keep your talented millennials happy and thus retain them? Here are some very practical, doable steps to take.

Salary Vs. Benefits

Everyone wants to be paid what they believe they are worth, and millennials are no different. However, they often consider benefits to be just as important as salary. The usual benefits of health and life insurance, and even a 401K are nice, but there are other things that can make you more attractive.

Some companies offer an additional “cafeteria plan” when it comes to benefits – things that might include a health club membership, or annual season tickets to sporting events or concert venues. Remember, millennials want a better work-life balance than previous generations.

Flexibility of Work Hours and Days

The 9-5 workday (and beyond) is fading. One of the biggest complaints that millennials have about traditional workplaces is that performance judgements are often made by the sheer number of hours someone spends at the office.

When millennials are provided with task responsibilities, they want to successfully complete them, but some of that work could be completed from home or at the local coffee shop. Even team projects do not necessarily require that everyone be physically present together – many teams are highly successful when working remotely. Giving millennials the power to set their own schedules is huge.

Recruitment Includes Your Social Media and Website Presence

Either before they ever submit their resumes or at least before they proceed to an interview, millennial candidates have conducted deep research into the organization.

Companies that want to appeal to millennials will have a website and social media platforms that do the following:

  • Provide visuals of millennial employees in collaborative and team atmospheres
  • Provide examples/visuals of employees participating in causes – either the company’s or their own
  • Speak to flexibility of workplace attendance
  • Speak to any benefits over and above the usual and traditional.
  • Demonstrate diversity through photos of employees
  • Offer creative resume templates, which both suit your HR department and encourage applications from the prospects.
  • Speak to innovation and the manner in which collaborative problem-solving occurs

These are the things that will spark interest in millennials that go beyond just your corporate mission statement and how well the company is doing in its niche.


Millennials do not want to be micro-managed. Give them a project and walk away. Let them determine priorities and the process of completion to meet the goals and the deadlines you have established. Don’t stop in and ask for progress every day and don’t make suggestions about how they should do something unless you are asked.

When millennials feel they are trusted and that their superiors have confidence in them, they will get the job done and be far more likely to stay. Millennials will not tell you they want freedom in the resumes they submit, but they will use terms like “self-starter,” or “ability to ‘run with a project,’” or “look for creative solutions.”


Traditional conservative organizations have their policies, their procedures, their bureaucracies, and their “red tape.” Allow millennials to shake things up a bit and to bring innovation to the workplace and to how things get done.

One of the things that makes Facebook the ideal work environment is that employees are encouraged to engage in creative thinking and try out new solutions, no matter how whacky they might seem at first.

Social Responsibility/Integrity

Companies that have a strong sense of social responsibility are highly valued by millennials. You should be committed to the support of local, regional, and even national charities. Running a United Way campaign once a year will not cut it. Having a “pet” charity or two and giving your employees paid time off to participate in good works, even for charities of their own choosing. This is “putting your money where your mouth is,” and they know you are sincere.

Workplaces that millennials like are also free of the politics and “backstabbing” that so often characterized workplaces in the past. The same goes for bullying.

Part of integrity also relates to diversity in the workforce at all levels. Millennials see great value in developing relationships with people of all backgrounds, religions, and ethnicities, and they value an organization that values this too.

Continued Learning and Professional Growth

Millennials will become bored with the same type of projects and work. They need to be afforded opportunities to learn new skills and to develop themselves professionally.

The offering of tuition reimbursement plans is highly valuable; many progressive companies rotate their employees through departments, so that they have variety and continue to learn. Provide professional development opportunities whenever possible.

Millennials Want to be Included

Being asked for their opinions and input when solutions are being sought is important. They want to know that they are valued for more than their work output. Giving them a “stake” fosters loyalty.

Millennials like the free flow of information and transparency at all levels. When they know there is a challenge and that they can contribute, they may come up with innovative solutions that have not been considered.

Dump the Traditional Performance Review

Perhaps it’s a part of their upbringing, but millennials like to be given feedback more often. Moreover, they do not like the annual quantitative review that reduces their performance ratings into categories with numerical scales. Millennials prefer to have sit-down meetings, perhaps quarterly, during which time there is a qualitative review with a chance for input.

These are the things that will spark interest in millennials that go beyond just your corporate mission statement and how well the company is doing in its niche.

Millennials are mobile – they like it that way. They are not buying homes like previous generations. They want to be able to pick up and move when new opportunities arise. If you want to get and keep them, then you need to be certain that you offer those things that make their workplace pleasant and comfortable, but also those things that provide on-going new opportunities.

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