Millennial Decoded: How to Make Young Talents Stay

“I will start by giving a warning that after this presentation, you may opt to resign and pursue a freelancing job”.

This was the opening remarks of one of our marketing associates during her echo session on a training-workshop that she attended a couple of weeks ago. She’s a tech-savvy in her early 20s who has excellent academic and leadership background, and whose industry exposures were advanced for her age. In our tech company, 90% is composed of millennials like her. With their credentials going beyond academic walls and with opportunities knocking on their doors, how can companies like ours keep these young, good talents from exploring other employment or from freelancing jobs for this matter?


Growth Culture

Any profit-oriented company focus metrics on numbers. However, according to Tony Schwartz, author of the book, The Way We’re Working is Not Working, building a culture focused on numbers may not be the best, healthiest, or most sustainable way to fuel results and win the commitment of young talents. Instead, it may be more effective to focus on creating a culture of growth.

Schwartz emphasized that in a growth culture, leaders build their people’s capacity by becoming role models in embracing vulnerability and taking accountability for shortcomings and missteps. This also means seeing through blind spots, such as acknowledging insecurities rather than discrediting employees who are yet to develop their knack for the role they play in the organization.

A culture that promotes inquiry, curiosity, and transparency, with continuous feedback grounded in a shared commitment to help each other grow and get better, are critical considerations for the young talents to stay and commit as well.


North Star Objective

Persuading this age-group to join and commit to an organization requires an equally intriguing and challenging North Star Objective, which can be the strength they want to employ in their work and the values they want to embody, in the context of their organization’s priorities. Substance matters more than style for millennials today. They want opportunities in solving big problems and tough issues. They want to be part of making a relevant impact, bringing out the best in themselves in the process.

Bill Taylor, Cofounder of Fast Company, the world’s leading progressive business media brand, mentioned how organizations need not mimic the offerings of Silicon Valley to attract and keep young talents. They only need to offer a taste of life in their business, and a thrust that sharing the vision in the business will make their life more interesting and satisfying.


Employee Engagement Reimagined

Most of the engagements at work follow a certain structure. This may be patterned in an organizational chart or a process flow. However, work engagement was redefined with the millennials on board. It attracts millennials when engagements are driven by the mindset that employees need to do their job well, feel good about their work, and recover from work stressors experienced through work, on top of the traditional provision of resources such as supervisor support, rewards and recognition, and self-efficacy at work.

Emma Seppala, Ph.D., author of Happiness Track, highlights how employees today stay because of supervisors who are keen in monitoring the level of demands they’re placing on people, as well as the balance between demands and resources. By resources, we also mean the intangible ones such as empathy and friendship in the workplace and letting employees disengage from work when they’re not working.


Shadow Boards

Disengaged workers and a weak response to changing market conditions remain to be a struggle for most companies trying to survive in the fast-changing economy. With the millennials experiencing life before and after the internet, it attracts them to work for a company who values their contributions, and who have respect for diverse perspectives. Young talents opt in to organizations who embody these principles by creating shadow boards allowing them to work with senior executives on strategic initiatives. This is also because they believe that the fastest way to learn has always been being in someone else’s shoes.

Millennials can be dubbed as the most impatient generation, but they can be the most strategic, creative and innovative today. According to Statista Research Department, 35% of the workforce will be composed of millennial by 2020, and 75% by 2030. Having said this, organizations should not ignore how this generation is changing business models and workplace dynamics, but rather start transforming into a millennial-ready organization, not only attracting the commitment of these young talents but making them stay.

Mikee Canaman is the Head of Sales and Marketing of FutureSmart Resources + Strategies Inc., an Asean company committed to bridge gaps through technological innovation and data-driven strategies. She is also a Global Shaper from Iloilo Hub, part of the Global Shapers Community — an initiative of the World Economic Forum.