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How to retain and engage millennials with the right company culture

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Gone is the “You should be grateful to work here” paradigm. It has been replaced by millennials with “Why should I work (or keep working) for you?”

Leadership expert John C. Maxwell says “Your ability as a leader to find, develop, and retain the best people is the single greatest factor in determining your success.”

How do you create an atmosphere that keeps top performers at your organization? How do you keep your competitors from plucking your best talent? How do you minimize top performers leaving for opportunities elsewhere? 

The key to retaining young top talent is to cultivate a company culture that is hard to leave. Company culture starts with the leader.

By leveraging the three guiding principles below, you can create a workplace irresistible to millennials

1. Connect with your team

More than ever before, it’s more acceptable to be yourself in the workplace. These days, letting your hair down won’t undermine your authority but rather will boost the connection with your teams. The erosion of many of today’s workplace formalities has caused a rise in more and more people bringing their authentic selves to work. 

Because they place a high value on transparency, millennials respond well to authentic leaders. They won’t want to leave a culture where diversity is celebrated, one-of-a-kind experiences are shared, strengths are valued, voices given and stories are shared.

At the end of the day, people leave people, not companies. Invest the time and energy to create personal connections with your team.

2. Coach for development

The number one reason millennials leave an organization is due to lack of career opportunities. In my experience, it’s not because these opportunities didn’t exist within the company, but it’s because the leaders didn’t communicate those opportunities. They were too busy bossing their talent that they forgot to coach their talent.

Leaders will receive more valuable feedback at all levels of the organization if they value each person in the organization regardless of their position or generation.

Former captain of the Navy destroyer USS Benfold, D. Michael Abrashoff, says it best: “Every leader needs big ears and zero tolerance for stereotypes.”

If you’ve taken the time to create a personal relationship, you’ll know what uniquely matters to them and will be able to coach them beyond their perceived potential. 

Boss less. Coach more.

3. Strive for what matters

It’s easy for someone to quit a job but it’s much more difficult for them to quit a cause … especially millennials. They are suckers for significance. They long for meaningful work.

Lean into their quest for good by casting the vision of the net impact your organization is having in the world.

And remember, vision leaks so be sure to cast vision as often as possible and find creative ways to keep the vision front and center and top of mind.

Creating a culture dedicated to fostering authentic personal relationships, developing talent, and focusing on a cause will result in millennial loyalty.

Retain on.

See also:

Your goals are waiting, Part 2

6 lies you’re telling yourself

Know your value


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