How to Attract and Retain Millennial Employees

04 November 2018 by National Bank

Many employers have a hard time figuring out what makes millennials tick. Here's a few expert tips to help you recruit and retain millennial employees.

Millennials—the generation between 20 and 35 years old—represented more than a quarter (27%) of Canada's population in 2011 and are playing an increasingly important role in the labour market.

Although some believe this generation is unreliable, difficult to retain and has little loyalty to employers, others see millennials as a breath of fresh air. This is the opinion of Isabelle Bédard, CHRP, HR consultant and CEO of the firm CIB Développement organisationnel. "This generation is shaking up the establishment, and that's a good thing because it helps organizations move forward. Since they are so used to change, 20-35 year olds are especially well-equipped to deal with the requirements of today's fast-paced labour market," states Ms. Bédard.

"Millennials are bright and hard-working, and eager to take on projects and challenges. For them, work is not an end in itself, but rather a way to realize their potential," adds Julie Bouchard, CHRP and HR management consultant.

Because they are creative and eager to defend their own values, millennials can sometimes be seen as disruptive by employers. "They are quick to leave if the business does not live up to their values or present stimulating challenges," states Ms. Bédard. As well as being difficult to retain, millennials can also be hard to attract; employers sometimes have a hard time understanding this generation.

A Guide to Understanding Millennials : How to attract them

When it comes to making your organization attractive to millennials, it all starts with the job posting. "You should emphasize the things that are important to them: flexible schedules, proximity to public transit, travel opportunities, etc.," advises Isabelle Bédard.

Millennials are also sensitive to the quality of the work environment. You should therefore mention that your organization values support and collaboration.

To find candidates, Julie Bouchard suggests using social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn, which are very popular among millennials, as well as internal networks.

It's important to be consistent throughout the process. "Interviews should be less formal and focus more on the individual. You should also strive to be transparent. For example, if IT is not up-to-date within the organization, you should not hide that fact," stresses Ms. Bouchard. Be careful: any bad experiences with your organization could be reported on social media! You'll need to keep an eye on your image and stay on good terms with candidates, even if you don't end up hiring them.

Maxim Séguin, Senior Advisor – SME Markets, Commercial and International Solutions at National Bank, brings up a basic principle. "Compensation is not everything an employer offers. Other elements are also important, such as flexible schedules, the possibility of telework, the existence of a group insurance plan, a group RRSP, etc. To be competitive in attracting human resources, a business must consider all of those aspects," he states.

How to retain them

It's not enough to hire great employees—you need to make them want to stay with your organization. "Managers must make their employees feel that, not only is their work important, but so is their personal contribution," says Isabelle Bédard.

It's also essential to integrate these employees into the workplace by ensuring information circulates freely and emphasizing collaboration within the organization. You could also pair new employees with senior employees, and resort to mentoring and coaching.

"To maximize the contribution of your millennial employees, you need to challenge them and encourage them to take initiative. Regularly follow up on the progress of their files and give them the recognition they expect. You should keep the focus on results and give them some leeway in carrying out their tasks," notes Julie Bouchard.

One last tip: avoid holding long formal meetings in favour of short stand-up meetings at the beginning of the day. A winning formula!

Four keys factors in retaining millennials

According to Isabelle Bédard, millennial employee retention is dependent on four key factors.

  • Integration: Focus on building relationships among employees, twinning, learning by doing and short, specialized training.
  • Work organization: Offer telework and flexible schedules; hold short, dynamic meetings; dial back on hierarchy and use technology.
  • Engagement: Challenge employees, focus on teamwork, build trust and create a positive, equitable work environment.
  • Recognition: Emphasize immediate recognition, highlight achievements, link compensation to contributions rather than seniority.

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