As the founder of a growing public relations firm, I tend to work almost exclusively with millennial-aged employees. I also happen to be a millennial myself. A frequent pain point I hear among many agencies, though, is that they experience a high rate of millennial turnover. This isn’t a unique problem to the PR space, of course; the so-called “job-hopping generation” is a familiar concern across industries.
No matter the underlying reasons why millennial employees leave (be it more money, better benefits or greater growth potential), it can be a frustrating and expensive problem. The good news? There are several simple ways your agency can both attract and successfully retain millennial talent. Here are a few tried-and-true strategies to help you keep millennials on your team for the long haul.
Millennials often get a bad rap for requiring too much hand-holding within an organization. In reality, they simply crave mentorship. We recently conducted a survey of our entire team to help us better understand why people choose to stay at our agency. One of the top reasons we received in response across the board, regardless of title, was mentorship.
Junior team members find value in working with a manager who genuinely cares about their professional and personal growth. Senior-level staff feels most fulfilled when they’re given opportunities to share experience and wisdom through mentoring junior talent, which adds to their overall well-being and provides a sense of purpose. Cultivate mentorship opportunities up and down throughout your team, and provide dedicated time to enable employees to focus on these relationships.
Promote a culture of trust and flexibility
Work-life balance is no longer a pipe dream. In today’s virtual, connected world, your team doesn’t need to be chained to their desks in order to be successful in their work. Flexibility is a key aspect not only in attracting millennials, but also in keeping them.
The extent of flexibility you can offer employees may vary depending on what works best for your individual agency and your clients. For instance, we provide a minimum of one remote day per week to all full-time employees, which undoubtedly speaks to the level of trust we have in each team member. Our core belief when it comes to a remote workforce is simple: The more accountable and reliable an employee is, the more flexibility they deserve.
What’s more, we’ve found that many of our team members grow more productive and creative when given the opportunity to work where and when works best for them. We recently piloted a four-day work week with one of our team members, too -- so far, so good!
Foster continuous learning and growth
A common grievance millennials air is a widespread lack of learning and development opportunities. Research backs this up. When job seeking, nearly 60 percent of millennials consider opportunities to learn and grow one of the most significant factors. Millennials (and all employees, really) need to feel challenged at work. They crave opportunities to branch out in their roles, grow their leadership skills and develop new areas of expertise.
Our firm, for example, offers an annual learning and development stipend -- dubbed “ABL” or “always be learning” -- to every employee. In fact, we actually require that team members take advantage of this benefit. This budget can be used for either professional or personal growth opportunities, whether someone wants to take a workshop, learn a new language, attend an industry conference or train to become a yoga teacher. We treat our team holistically and know each team member is strongest when they are well-rounded, fulfilled and stimulated, both personally and in the workplace.
In today’s society, we’ve grown accustomed to having instant access to anything and everything. But in business, it’s often only those in upper management who have access to knowledge of the ins and outs of a business. Choose a different approach. We encourage team members at all levels to be involved in our goals, mission and bottom line, openly sharing this information and discussing it at length during our annual retreats.
One of our leadership team's core values is transparency. The more open you are as a leader and company, the more psychologically safe your employees will inevitably feel. This also creates a culture of ownership in which every team member feels they both contribute to and hold a personal stake in the company’s success.
Stay ahead of the curve with perks
Millennials are the first generation to truly force companies to examine the state of their employee benefits. A recent survey from recruiting firm LaSalle Network confirms this yet again. It found that a desire for superior benefits is one of the most common reasons millennial employees seek new jobs.
To avoid losing your top team members to competitors offering more attractive benefits packages, talk candidly about what matters most to them. Their priorities might surprise you.
We prove that our agency will remain adaptable to the ever-evolving lives, interests and needs of team members by offering progressive perks. These include a bring-your-baby-to-work policy, pawternity leave, paid volunteer time off (VTO) and quarterly remote weeks during which employees can work anywhere in the world and in any time zone.
Mastering the art of successfully attracting and retaining millennial talent is, without a doubt, one of the wisest moves you can make within your agency. It will be beneficial in the short term by helping you avoid costly turnover and the headaches that follow. In the long term, consider that millennials will make up an estimated 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025. By creating a culture that embraces and empowers millennials now, you're building a team that is all the more likely to stay on board for the long haul.