Five ways to improve Millennial retention in the workplace

It’s official – according to PEW Research, as of 2015, Millennials have surpassed Gen Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. Labor Force.


If you’re in HR or you’re a hiring manager, you have surely noticed this trend. So, let’s assume you’ve done a stellar job of attracting Millennial talent to your company…what do you do now to keep those highly valued employees?

1. Have purpose; give purpose.

Millennials value companies that have a true purpose — not just ones aimed at making profits. If you’ve attracted Millennials to your company, you likely did a good job of conveying this purpose during the hiring process. To retain those same employees, make sure you still look sexy to them. Are you doing enough to convey to employees your companies’ purpose? Consider guest speakers at a once-a-year gathering, who can speak to the benefits your company’s products/services have had on the lives of individuals. Again, here, it’s not about showing profits or improved bottom-line for a single customer. Think about how your company’s end work product positively affects PEOPLE.

Also, it’s not enough to just have purpose as a company. Realize that Millennials also need to feel a sense of purpose. Make sure it feels like their work matters. Make sure it feels like THEY matter to your organization. Not sure how to do that? Keep reading.

2. Improve well-being.

At the end of the day, companies are made up of people. And people should do what they can to take care of one another, right? So it’s not too much of a stretch to understand why Millennials value a company that is invested in their well-being. But, if you’re a decision maker in the hiring process, how do you decide what will most improve the well-being of your employees, in order to invest in that? And how do you remain competitive with larger organizations who are trying to recruit away your talent?

Consider company benefits and perks that really matter. Employees that are innovating industries and moving companies forward today are motivated by different incentives than prior generations:

  • Have a large population of employees who have recently graduated from undergrad or grad school? Consider a student loan repayment plan through a third party administrator, to help students pay down their debt more quickly. This enables employees to do everything from saving for a home, to planning a family, to considering continuing education. And the third-party administrator part makes it easy for your organization to implement quickly.
  • Have a lot of commuters? Consider flexible work hours or “work from home” days to help cut down on commute time. Bonus — fewer days commuting (especially if your employees must drive) also has a positive effect on the environment.
  • Have a lot of employees with families? Consider additional maternity/paternity leave after a new birth. Or, here again, consider flexible work hours so employees can improve their work-life balance.

Lastly, if you’re not sure what your employees will value, you can always survey them. If you decide to survey, it might be wise to survey about employee development, too. Oh, would you look at that, I just segued to the next item in the list.

3. Survey. Develop. Repeat.

Millennials want to be mentored and developed. If asked, they’ll gladly tell you where they want to build skills. But, as an organization, you first want to consider questions like:

  • How confident are you in your managers’ abilities to mentor and develop Millennials? If this ranks low for you, consider outside training for your management staff.
  • Will you have the funds and management time to implement additional training for your Millennials? If you don’t have a plan to commit time and dollars, figure that part out first. Otherwise, you’ll set yourself up for failure.
  • What will your feedback platform be for this additional mentoring/developing/training (e.g., how will it be reported, who will collect and action feedback, etc.)? There needs to be a way for employees to quickly voice what’s going well and what’s not. And the person in charge of the feedback has to have enough authority to change things if feedback is negative.

Once you feel you have a high-level framework in place to make additional development a success in your organization, go forth and survey those Millennial employees! From their input, you can further evolve your plan with:

  • What topics/areas of focus stand out as most important? Leadership? Strategic thinking? Real-world finance or marketing training?
  • How long will the training/mentoring/development cycle be? A year-long mentorship? A 2-week rotation? 3-month course?
  • How much of an employee’s time can he/she dedicate to this additional training? Allowing an employee to carve some time out of their 40-hour work week shows them you’re invested in not only their development, but also their well-being.

This type of mentoring and development can go a long way toward retaining employees. Commit to it as an organization, socialize the program(s) and repeat on a consistent cycle to stay competitive and help retain your talent.

4. Socialize leadership.

Millennials value a company’s leadership. That’s part of why they chose your company in the first place. They liked your sense of purpose, or your ethics. One thing companies can forget to do once everyone gets too busy, is to socialize your leaders. They have qualities that employees love. The best leaders in organizations (even small- or medium-sized businesses) are passionate, decisive, influential people that Millennial employees want to be exposed to and learn from. Socializing your organization’s leadership can have a far more positive impact than leaders that stay behind closed doors all of the time. And it’s far easier than you think — monthly company meetings or quarterly lunch panels are easy ways to showcase great leadership qualities and give employees a connection to leaders they may not always interact with.

5. Be innovative.

Today’s Millennial work force wants to be part of something great. That requires innovation. This isn’t a new concept, as most companies have to innovate to stay competitive. If you’re focused on hiring or retaining your Millennial employees, it’s important that a core focus of your business is innovation, and that it’s communicated as such throughout the organization. This doesn’t mean simply painting the word “innovation” on the wall in the cafeteria. Think of it like a vibration — something you hear and feel when you stand inside the walls of your organization. It’s a companywide commitment — and it’s different for every company. Not sure where your company sits? Try this out — look at what’s new in your industry, what your competitors are doing (or not doing!) and then take that to the next level. Then look for ways to showcase that work product, those insights, etc. all over the office. You’ll start to feel the vibe and your employees will, too. And that will help them stay put.


About Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter helps top employers offer a unique student loan benefit to attract and retain Millennial employees. By making modest contributions to employee student loans, companies can help employees avoid substantial amounts of principal and interest, helping them to get out of debt years sooner than they otherwise would. 

The attraction of lower student debt can increase quantity and quality of job applicants, while the result of lower student loan debt can materially change an employee’s decision to seek another job.

Learn more at, or get started today by creating your company’s student loan repayment plan.