Retain Millennials: Top 5 Things Employers Can Do | Leader 411

Retain Millennials: Top 5 Things Employers Can Do


It can be difficult to retain Millennials. I recently surveyed 35 late Millennials. They were asked to list the top three things employers could do to show they support and care about their employees. I received 105 suggestions. Five stood out way above the rest.

  1. Flexibility – Life is crazy and things happen. A company that is understanding about life is a top notch company according to this group of Millennials. In fact, a recent study (Ross, Intindola & Boje, 2017) noted that the biggest difference between The Best Places to Work and The Worst Places to Work was work-life flexibility.
  2. Rewards/Recognition – Millennials want to be recognized for their work. This actually goes along with Gen Z as well. The rewards and recognition don’t have to be financial. It also doesn’t mean that they want endless praise in their “nobody loses, everybody is a winner world” (as a Millennial myself, I don’t believe in the “endless praise” or “entitled” belief that is commonly repeated).  I asked them to further define what they meant by this answer. They mentioned that they sincerely want to do a good job, but they need to know they’re heading in the right direction. Just a quick “Hey, this is good. Keep going like this,” is enough. Most stated it was the informal recognition that had the most impact.
  3. Feedback – Similar to the point above, Millennials don’t just want rewards and recognition, they also want to know what they can do better. In general, Millennials and Gen Zers are a fairly competitive generation. They want to be coached and while they can be a little more sensitive than Gen X or Baby Boomers, when given time to process, they do enjoy knowing what they can do better.
  4. Developmental Opportunities – This was interesting because in 2002 a big study of more than 150 major companies looked at reasons people leave their organizations. Lack of developmental opportunities was in the top three. That was almost 20 years ago. Apparently Millennials still want to feel that they’re growing and developing. You might be thinking “Yeah, but if we train them too well then they’ll leave.” Yes…to an extent. Millennials tend to be job hoppers, but they also can be fiercely loyal. Too much to write about here. Sounds like great material for another post…
  5. Benefits – Medical, dental and life insurances are pretty typical, but Millennials also look for cultural compliments such as snacks in the break room (boardroom), pizza Fridays, and free gym memberships are all very important to these employees.

In summary, if you are a company that provides these things, then you are on track! Good work (That was very Millennial of me). If you’re looking to retain the largest group in the workplace today, try some of these ideas. Comment below if you have other ideas that help retain Millennials.

About the author: John is a recognized professor, public speaker, trainer, author and entrepreneur. Business is his passion and his hobby. He started as a 7th grade history and English teacher (loved it), then produced musical events (loved it) followed by a long stint at a Fortune 100 manufacturing company (miss it sometimes). He eventually earned his his PhD and currently resides in Indiana teaching and researching leadership and entrepreneurship at Indiana University. You can reach him directly at

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