Fostering Tomorrow’s Leaders: How to Best Retain Millennial Talent

Monday, June 10, 2019

The biggest challenge for employers today outside of the tight labor market: Retaining talent. According to Deloitte, organizations are having a hard time keeping millennials engaged. That’s a major challenge given this demographic currently makes up over 35 percent of the workforce.

Deloitte’s report suggests millennials feel employers don’t share their views on key issues, including the purpose of work and workplace flexibility. Over 75% of millennials say businesses focus too much on corporate agendas and not enough on contributing to society; nearly two-thirds say companies have no ambition beyond wanting to make money.

This misalignment is a big problem. Millennials are the rising leaders of the workplace – and will dominate the employee market in just five years when they will represent over 75% of all workers. Employers must change how they manage and interact with this generation by hearing their ideas, understanding what motivates them, and creating cultures that value people and the world in which they work – and live. By engaging millennials’ hearts, employers have a much better shot at fostering their loyalty and drive for results.

Understanding millennial preferences: Success starts here

Reaching millennials starts with understanding how this generation operates. Their learning process is unique; adaptability is in millennials’ DNA.  As digital natives, millennials can watch a YouTube video in five minutes and learn skills they didn’t have before. This agility makes these workers essential since they can tackle new projects quickly, pivot, and transform their approach to keep pace with today’s on-demand business cycles.

Growing up with social media, they also crave the same level of accessibility and engagement in the workplace as they do in their personal lives. They value efficient communication and two-way dialogue with friends, family, and colleagues all over the world.  And above all, they demand the freedom to voice their opinions on issues they feel strongly about without reservation. This means the best way to engage millennials is no longer through the traditional top-down business model, but rather via two-way, open communication across all levels of the organization, allowing millennials to express their concerns, be heard by management, and share their feelings in a safe space.

Beyond being heard, millennials want flexibility in where, how, and when they work. Despite alternative work arrangements becoming a popular trend globally, there’s still room for the global business community to grow in meeting new work models and expectations. Companies need to be at the point where they stop focusing on how a person works, but rather on their skills and the results they deliver.

The next step: Catering to a modern workforce

According to Deloitte, 62% of millennials regard the gig economy as a viable alternative to full-time work. As alternative arrangements become more popular, companies need to shift how they hire, view, and manage their workforce. Viable talent now comes in all different forms – gig, contract, freelance, full-time, part time – and employers need to view the labor pool as one total unit. Considering millennial candidates across all work classifications who match immediate skill needs will increase chances of finding the best fit for the job. Building talent communities that nurture relationships with prospective millennial employees before they’re looking for a new role is another great practice – it expedites the hiring process by identifying candidates who are good cultural fits early on and contribute to stronger retention down the road.

According to LinkedIn, there are over 11 million millennials in decision making roles on the platform. As this generation moves up the career ladder into senior leadership positions, it’s critically important for organizations to take millennial values, motivators, and needs to heart when assessing their business strategy and building talent development and hiring plans. Misalignment could lead to significant attrition costs that hurt overall financial performance.


Mindy Mackenzie is Managing Director and Chief Performance Officer at The Carlyle Group, Workforce Logiq’s parent company. She specializes in maximizing organizational, operational and leadership effectiveness through leveraging expertise in change management, strategy, culture and engagement – and the interplay of those four elements in driving performance. She is the author of the 2016 WSJ bestseller The Courage Solution: The Power of Truth Telling With Your Boss, Peers, and Team.

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