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How to Attract, Hire, and Retain Millennial Talent

This is a guest post by Scott Span, MSOD, of Tolero Solutions.

In fact – Millennials, or they can be referred to as Gen Y (or Gen C or Gen Z) are one of the most sought after target markets today – from both marketing and advertising and recruiting and a hiring perspective. This new audience brings with it a large amount of social influence. A demographic to help grow ratings and profit. Attracting Millennial talent takes a change in mind set.

In order to engage and attract a group with such influence to your product or service, one must think like one – understand what drives them and what they value. And to do this, you need to have them on staff.

So why is it so hard to attract, hire, and retain this brain-power?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret – it’s not because they all have A.D.D. It’s often because you haven’t changed your processes and mindset in how you attract, recruit, and retain employees. They’re the fastest growing segment of the workforce and that’s not going to change. So adapt or be left behind.

Throw out that company manual right now. It’s time to start fresh.

Here is what you need to know to attract, engage, and retain Millennials.

Recruiting – Don’t over promise and under deliver. Millennials expect to be challenged and perform the type of work they have an interest in and want to perform. If an organization can provide these opportunities, it is likely Millennial employees will stay engaged. If as an organization you can’t provide them with what they think is a fit, then tell them so on day one. If you over promise and under deliver, and they sense incongruence or feel stuck doing work they didn’t sign up for and don’t enjoy, they are likely to leave the organization.

  1. To engage Millennials set mutually clear expectations, clearly define goals, implement management development programs, and share organizational values and beliefs – from day one.

Meritocracy Not Hierarchy – Millennials have a low tolerance for political bureaucracy. They don’t buy the “tenure” or “chain of command” approach. Millennials believe in open and honest communication and feedback – in all directions. They believe results, not years of service or level in the organization, drive team success. Traditional role and job progression is seen as too slow and outdated.

  1. To engage Millennials, consider changing the structure, or at least the performance management or reporting relationships, of your organization to a more flat model with less hierarchy and rewards based on merit and performance, not tenure and title.

Coaching and Communication – Millennials are not afraid to speak up or call the boss by his first name. They believe that communication is key in all directions, up, down, and lateral. Create an environment where they are encouraged and rewarded for speaking up regarding ideas and concerns, regardless of level in the organization. If the way they express themselves causes conflict – then provide training on communication. Millennials consider experience to have little value in a world of constant change. Don’t view this as disrespect; harness this view of communication, which often leads to innovation. Millennials prefer coaches not bosses.

  1. To engage Millennials,add a structured coaching or mentoring program to your organization. Build in quarterly or monthly development check-ins and create a space for discussion. Helping to guide open communication, career progression, and build trust leads to higher levels of engagement and retention.

Comfort with Diversity – The days of the “good old boys club” is long since passed for those organizations that wish to remain successful and competitive in today’s global marketplace. Millennials have a higher level of comfort with diversity; to keep them engaged, it is important that they see the organization does as well. Take a look at your organization chart. For example, if you see that most managerial or leadership roles are filled by white baby boomer males then most likely this was already noticed as a negative by your Millennial employees. If they see that only one ‘type’ of person tends to move up the ladder and they don’t fit that description, then it becomes easy for them to take on a ‘so why bother’ mentality, and this has a negative impact on engagement and retention.

  1. To engage Millennials recognize and embrace all facets of diversity, gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Implement Affinity Groups (ERGs) and put forth diversity initiatives, change up the organization chart and add diversity to your leadership mix, sponsor events or corporate matching programs and give back to various communities. When Millennial employees can see the organization values them for who they are, and not just the work they can do, engagement, commitment, and retention will increase.

These are just a few examples of how to attract, retain, and hire Gen Y and Millennial talent. If you’re interested in a more detailed checklist, drop me a note, and I’m happy share my Top 10 Ways to Engage Millennial Talent.

So what are your challenges with generational diversity? What solutions have you tried?

This post originally appeared on the Tolero Solutions blog at

About Scott Span, MSOD: A Gen Y – and Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions – an Organizational Improvement & Strategy firm. He helps create high performance organizations where employees enjoy working and customers enjoy doing business – organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable.

Thanks for these fascinating and helpful insights, Scott!

What percentage of your workplace is made up of millennials? Have you noticed a difference in what engages them at work? Please add your comment below, or share with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or email.

PHOTO  © Thomas Pajot –

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