You might assume that any 20-something who has a full-time job in a field that does not involve making caffeinated drinks would be bursting with gratitude. Unfortunately, many are not. As a 2013 study out of Georgetown University points out, even many of the young people lucky enough to have a job with career prospects are not staying loyal to their employers, changing jobs 6.3 times between the ages of 18 and 25. The problem, according to a recent post at Mashable, is “career impatience,” and it is something that every business is going to have to start fighting against.

Career impatience is the hallmark of a generation that sees each job as an opportunity to “land, learn, lift off, and then move on,” and, clearly, gratitude alone will not be enough to keep talented young workers from staying put just long enough to get valuable experience and training before jumping to their next venture. But if you build an appealing company culture, you will dramatically boost the chances that young employees will stick around and remain an integral part of your growth.

Encourage internal mobility

As an employer, it is possible to satisfy the Millennial urge to explore new opportunities and develop new skills without having your employees leave the company.

It starts with proactive communication. Making sure that young employees are aware of opportunities in different departments, especially ones that will give them a chance to learn and grow.

Sending out newsletters probably is not enough, so arrange to have social gatherings where people from different areas of your company can get together and network. When promoting these events, be explicit about encouraging discussions of new jobs and pursuits. You can also offer job shadowing opportunties so that employees can see for themselves the potential ways they can pursue a satisfying and diverse career without jumping ship.

Be open and honest

Trust goes a very long way in the work world, especially among younger employees. When Millennials feel trusted, they are more likely to be motivated and remain loyal.

The way to foster trust is to be open and honest. Executives and managers should make it a priority to host frequent get-togethers to communicate company goals and the strategy for achieving them. Even when things are not going as well as was hoped (ie. when layoffs are on the horizon), a culture of honesty demands straight talk. Coming from the top, this kind of transparency will cascade downwards and encourage openness between employees and managers at all levels of the company. And the trust and confidence this sort of communication will build in young employees can encourage them to stay.

Let young people know they matter

Part of having an open and honest business culture is communicating what you want from individual employees. This is a smart practice in general, because defining a person’s role in the overall picture of the company’s goals gives that person a sense of focus and direction.

But for young people especially, defining how their efforts contribute directly to the organization’s success is essential. As a generation, Millennials are looking for purpose in their career and a feeling that their jobs truly matter. Explaining exactly how that is true boosts your chances that they will want to stay in a job that matters--with your organization--for a long, long time to come.

We all know that it is disheartening to find great, young employees and to spend time training and developing them, only to watch them leave for another opportunity. And the loss of an employee (of any age) is also the loss of an investment. With an influx of Millennial workers into the workforce over the next several years, your investments will become much more difficult to protect unless you take the proper steps to make your culture and your work as attractive (and retentive) as possible. What is your company doing to protect that investment?

04 September 2014

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