Business employees

How to Help Keep Millennials Happy at Your Company

Millennials – those born between 1983 and 2001, also known as members of Generation Y – have been talked about a lot since they entered the professional landscape a decade or so ago. They’ve been characterized as not having quite the same nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic of past generations. Some have even said, “They start as interns on Monday and expect to be CEO by Friday.”

Why They Matter

But, as this group continues to increase in numbers within the workforce – Forbes magazine notes that Millennials will make up roughly 75 percent of the world’s workforce by 2025 – they’re picking up another moniker: revolutionary. They have an aptitude for tech and social media unlike any other previous generation. What takes some years to learn, they can do in their sleep.

Still, Millennials have had quite the load to bear with regard to employment in today’s marketplace. Many had the unfortunate timing of entering the workforce in the midst of the recent economic meltdown, which continues to linger.

Why They’re Difficult To Keep

With staggering totals of student loan debt, many of these individuals accepted employment not out of interest or passion for the business, but out of necessity. The result: the short-term employee.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Millennials average employment with one company for just over two years – half the amount of time older generations of workers tend to stay with one company. For businesses, this rate of turnover can be costly. Thus, it’s important to realize what Millennials want out of their workplace in an effort to retain this new employee crop.

Millennials want to use their tech prowess in any way possible, and they want to use it anywhere. They are an employee base that is not satisfied with the confines of cubicle life or the strains of making the nine-to-five thing work. Instead, Millennials are pushing back against the “norms” of the working world by proving that work can be done from anywhere and at any time.

How to Keep Them

Here are three different strategies for keeping these young workers longer:

  1. Consider a results-only work environment (ROWE). Essentially this approach gives employees the freedom to work when and where they want, as long as they get the work done. It’s great for the work-life balance Millennials desire; however, it may be difficult to maintain depending on the nature of the business.
  2. Provide learning and growth opportunities. This new generation of workers doesn’t just want to accomplish a specific task for a company. They want to grow professionally and as people, so it may help to give them a chance to take classes, attend conferences and build their skills outside of their day-to-day tasks.
  3. Give them autonomy and trust – Millennials tend to be creative self-starters. They may be resistant to the old way of doing things, so give them the room to come up with something new. The days of company loyalty may be over, but if millennials feel respected and trusted, they’re more likely to want to give back.

To some, this may sound a little soft. Since when was work supposed to be so flexible? The reality is the new generation is defining work in new ways. Turning your back on this idea could mean losing money to heavy turnover, and missing out on innovation.

Scott Brandt is vice president of marketing at SurePayroll, Inc. For more small business and payroll tips, visit our blog at