I am Y generation! How did I stay 7 years in 1 company?

Everyone seems to have an opinion about millennials and the employment market.

The media calls them narcissistic, their parents call them lazy, the media calls them, and employers characterize them as impatient, disloyal, flighty, self-centered job candidates.

But even millennials grow up. Now, these “self-centered,” “lazy” “narcissists” make up 25 percent of the US workforce. By 2030, that number is projected to rise to 75 percent.

Yet generational gaps have existed for as long as generations have. And the things that Boomers hate about millennials also happen to be the things that give them an edge in the job market. It’s only that a different generation comes with a different mindset, and maintaining these ambitious young adults means adopting a modern way of management.

And I would know.

I’m one of those flighty Generation Y narcissists. But contrary to the stereotype, I’ve spent seven years at one company. So, speaking from personal experience, here are a few ways that you, the employer, can create high engagement and retention amongst your Generation Y employees.

Upon completing my bachelor’s degree in business and East Asian studies, I went straight to work as a junior clients account manager at an online media company. It was a small startup made up of 60 ambitious employees, where I had the opportunity to grow with the team and learn directly from my manager.

In fact, my manager (and ultimately, mentor) was an integral part of my experience here. He never told me how to do my job. Instead, he exposed me to industry trends and business models, guiding me toward my own method of managing my client’s portfolio. I learned a lot, grew professionally, and developed a new skill set.

Luckily, both my manager and the HR team recognized my management skills early on. They actively challenged me by increasing my responsibilities, involving me in solving complex problems, and assigning me to support and mentor new employees. They boosted both my confidence and my abilities during this pivotal, early stage of my career, helping me thrive.

The company appreciated my motivation, and I was promoted to managing a small team of media buyers. While this was an obvious win for me, it was also a big win for the company: by nurturing internal talent, they were home-growing their very own future managers. Plus, I became even more loyal to the company, aligning more closely with its goals and missions. After all, their success directly benefited me — the more the company grew and diversified its business models, the more I could grow professionally.

Though autodidacts and self-learners are commonplace amongst millennials our company’s HR team deliberately worked to foster the talents of today’s young manager, helping them grow into tomorrow’s leaders. For instance, I had the benefit of a monthly mentorship plan, as well as a six-month course in leadership and managerial skills, all of which strongly influenced the type of manager I am today.

This taste of success further motivated me, and I searched for my next challenge. Suddenly, leading five people was no longer enough — I wanted to challenge myself, to learn, to evolve by managing a much larger team, and when the opportunity came along i was well prepared for it. My last job at the company I’ve ended up leading a five-team department, including client success, business development, M&A, sales, and marketing.

My managers and the HR team identified my strengths early on, helping them understand the best way to lead me. The realized that to succeed in developing my career, I needed to be constantly challenged, yet I need to constantly deliver results. Plus, they made me feel important: they asked for my opinion, my ambitions, and how I gauged my own success within the company.

Of course, not all millennials are the same. But we are ambitious, hungry, and driven. We long to be challenged, and we need to be heard.

  1. Understand what matters to us. Generally, millennials are high achievers. But they may define success differently: to us, personal growth and development often outweigh financial rewards.
  2. Let us know how we’re doing. We crave constant feedback, good or bad. Provide recognition for good work, and constructive criticism on points for improvement — we’ll up our efforts in return 🙂
  3. Define goals, but don’t micromanage. Since Generation Y treats all of a company’s roles (from CEO to the most junior employee) as equal, expect to be treated that way. We appreciate leaders who mentor and are inspired by those who lead by example, are professional and experienced.
  4. Involve them in creating their work environment. Feedback is a two-way street, and employees should always have a voice when it comes to company activities, management, or anything else company-related.
  5. Don’t limit them. Millenials are multitaskers who like to get their hands dirty and try out new things. They don’t want to focus on just one area of responsibility — they want to learn. This can be a huge attribute to your company.

Retain Employees Through Engagement: How to Solve Your Workplace’s Biggest Challenge

It’s no secret that for most company management teams, the bottom line is what drives the business.

Yet, when talking the talk, many leaders will tell a different story. When asked about their primary business concern, one in three American CEOs point to keeping talent on the team.

According to Forbes, one of the key incentive keeping talented professionals at their current companies is employee engagement.

But what is employee engagement, exactly? According to Gallup, engaged employees are involved in, enthusiastic about, and thoroughly committed to their work and their workplace. Though this might sound simple, it’s rarer than you’d think: the same Gallup poll found that 87 percent of employees are not engaged at work. Meanwhile, they also found that companies that foster high levels of employee engagement will outperform competitors by 147 percent in earnings per share.

The numbers don’t lie — engagement is not only good for employees, but good for companies, shareholders, and leaders.

So now that we’ve solved the “what” of employee retention, we’ll get to the “how”: here are five proven ways to improve employee engagement.

Start by measuring. Before you hit the ground running with employee engagement programs, you need to do some research and find out what matters to your employees. To do this, you’ll need to measure employee satisfaction, overall engagement, and the source of that engagement. Are they engaged by your company’s vision? By its mission, capabilities, or values? Compare what’s working within your organization to what could clearly be improved upon. Discern differences between teams and departments, then dig deep to understand the roots of those differences.

Managers must be up to the challenge. Though employee engagement and satisfaction start in HR, they certainly don’t end there. These concepts are important throughout your workplace ecosystem, and anyone who manages anyone else needs to bear them in mind. Little things like continual feedback, off-site activities, and/or honest and open discussions about personal achievements can make a world of difference.

Always keep the company’s overarching message in mind. Ask yourself: what message is this company delivering? How do we deliver it? When do we deliver it? There’s a constant stream of information that must move from the company’s leaders to the rest of its employees. If you’re committed to keeping all employees engaged, connected, and invested to the company’s vision and goals, it’s important that you constantly evaluate and reevaluate your deliver. Does it come in an inspiring, motivating package, or is a barebones “bottom line” delivery? Plus, these messages need to come from company leaders at a time that is fair, timely, and effective for all.

Help employees find their voice. As HR managers, we have dozens of daily decisions to make. It’s not unusual for our to-do lists to be several pages long, spanning a wide variety of topics. And it always helps to have a deep knowledge of each topic, which adds an element of research and learning to every bullet point. One great way to increase employee engagement is to spread some of this responsibility among employees, not only heightening the overall level of expertise within your organization, but positioning individual employees as experts who can help make decisions, strategize, and resolve complex problems.


Do you have any of your own tips for engaging employees? Share it with us!