Engaging & Retaining Millennials: 5 Ways to Give Them What They Need

Millennials are now the largest generation in the labor force, but notoriously the hardest to retain. They crave more gig work, career/life flexibility, challenging work environments, and constant progress in their careers. 

The environment of today’s employers is often either not flexible or challenging enough to retain millennials, so companies are pushed to reexamine how they approach this new kind of worker. 

Those reluctant to adjust their employment strategies risk alienating their millennial employees because they fail to grasp what really motivates them — their strong values, inherent confidence, and independence.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you should make an effort to align your goals and priorities with those of your millennial workers. Here’s a helpful list of things you can do to engage and retain millennials.

Create a Positive Work Environment

Trying to get millennials to engage with their work can be a challenge, but all is not lost. One way to engage millennials in the workplace is through team building exercises.

Team building activities are great for breaking down barriers and creating an environment where staff can feel they have more freedom within their job.

To effectively retain millennials, create a positive work environment that promotes teamwork, inclusivity, and offers plenty of room for growth and development, while also challenging employees to do their best.

Encourage collaboration, innovation, and creative thinking by offering small incentives like gift cards or team building activities as a means of retaining the group.

These types of team building exercises allow employees to spend time together outside of the workplace, fostering relationships with one another, and improving the likelihood of retaining millennials.

Offer Flexibility

Millennials are the generation that will shape the business world over the coming decades, and you can bet your next paycheck on them pushing for flexible working hours.

This group craves flexibility and independence at work. They prefer a schedule that fits them as opposed to one that fits the business. For example, remote jobs and flexible work hours allow employees to determine when they work best; whether it be early morning, late at night, or during specific hours of the day. Demonstrating flexibility can help you retain younger workers. 

In addition, they are highly mobile and enjoy change; they aren’t afraid of taking an overseas assignment or transferring once a year to a different department within their company. The most successful businesses understand this need for flexibility and are willing to provide it in order to keep new talent engaged.

This generation is also known for being restless. They seek out new challenges and want to develop their skills continuously. This means that work is just one part of their life, not the main part as it was for previous generations.

 


Provide Opportunities for Growth

Millennials want more than just a paycheck from their careers. They want an environment that rewards hard work and initiative. They want to work with people whom they respect on both professional and personal levels, and they don’t just want to be friends at the office—they want to work in teams.

Businesses retain millennials best when they provide ongoing training. They want to learn new skills and improve themselves while they’re at work. Offer to pay for them to attend conferences, workshops, or classes that will help them develop professionally. Provide online training programs that employees can access at any time on their own time as well.

The ability to grow at a company is important for retaining millennials. Startups are especially attractive because of their flexibility—employees can wear many hats, take ownership of projects, and even move up the ladder faster than at large corporations.

Because startups typically don’t offer many perks, they need to offer the opportunity for growth instead to retain millennials. This generation will walk if they don’t feel like they are growing in their positions or advancing in their careers.

 


Treat Employees Like People

Treat your employees like adults. When you do this, they will treat you with respect and deliver. Trust your employees and give them a chance to prove themselves. Give them a chance to take responsibility for their actions—but hold them accountable if they don’t deliver as promised.

Millennials have a strong desire to prove themselves and achieve success on their own merit, so give them the opportunity to do so by letting them manage tasks and be in charge of certain projects. Let them work independently instead of assigning tasks to them that they don’t have control over.

Millennial employees are shaping the future of the workplace, and actively preparing for leadership roles. They want to participate in designing and defining the vision, culture, and direction of their organizations. They want to be respected and seen as peers by everyone – not just the CEO.

This could be your chance to create a more democratic workforce that treats people with respect, instilling respect from the top down instead of from the bottom up.

Focus on Effective Leadership and Less on Workplace Politics

Staying out of gossip and office politics is important for all generations, but it’s crucial for millennials who value transparency and honesty in the workplace. When managers get involved in office drama or spread rumors about employees, they tend to question the manager’s credibility and see them as dishonest and unreliable — two qualities that create a toxic environment where no one wants to work.

Millennials hate office politics—they like to do business in an ethical way and have no tolerance for anything less.

They are a generation that loves working with leaders who have vision and purpose. They respect leaders who show them the vision, give them opportunities to learn and grow, provide feedback regularly, and are positive.


Millennials are the face of the future, but it is no secret that they are tough to retain. They are a generation vastly different than any generations before them and aren’t afraid to change the status quo.

With their technological expertise, they have the skills to dramatically change the workplace, and many businesses of today are already taking note. 

Companies that retain this younger generation and work with them to create an environment they feel engaged in will flourish. Companies that don’t will quickly find themselves on the outside looking in.

If your workforce is mostly made up of millennials, give them an opportunity to expand their skills, practice effective communication, and blow off some steam with fun team building activities. 

TeamBonding has decades of experience in helping companies create a more welcoming workplace culture through team-building initiatives. Reach out to us today and explore our unique team building activities that can help you retain and engage your millennials.

Anna Webber

Team Contributor

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