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Retention: Advice From a Wandering Millennial

3 Aug 2016 - Blog

Retention: Advice From a Wandering Millennial

Guest post by our very own millennial and business psychologist, Tatiana Gulko, Msc.

Growing up on tales of the mega-rewards that await anyone brave enough to work their way up the City, we Millennials have big dreams and even bigger expectations. It is not surprising then that Generation Y has become the Generation Y is My Bonus So Small, as a recent City A.M. issue has dubbed us. When the next salary comparison or Glassdoor review are only a click away, it is no wonder that we don’t plan to stay in our jobs very long[1]; we’re the wandering millennials.

Going it alone in the gig economy – that’s what the ‘cool kids’ are doing. Working when we want, fitting work around our varied, flexible lifestyles. Being in control. Making decisions. “You are the CEO of your career!” we are told by inspirational bloggers, vloggers and Tweeters.

Given these trends and temptations, it’s not surprising only 18% of us think we’ll be with our employers for any significant length of time.1

As a business psychologist and millennial, having talked to my peers, and sampled the zeitgeist, here’s my advice to any organisation trying to stem the outflow of millennial talent.

Empower and listen

Collect feedback (annually, quarterly, monthly – whatever suits) with your employee engagement survey. Think about parallel channels for less structured, informal feedback– leader Q&As, communications platforms like Slack, Yammer, Hipchat. Use the data collected to drive initiatives that will create a thriving, engaging, and inclusive culture. Follow up issues & actions during line manager 121s.

Importantly, show us that you’ve listened on the macro AND micro levels – to the whole organisation, and to individuals.

Create a diverse, inclusive culture

Of course, there aren’t just differences across generations, but also within each generation. Millennials are the most diverse generation in history – racially, culturally and by sexual orientation.

Organisations need to be proactive about how diversity is developed so we can safely be our authentic, individual selves. After all, through mixing people from diverse backgrounds the best ideas are often found.

Build frequent development coaching conversations

Professional development opportunities are critical to engaging us – in fact they are expected.

Sit down with your employees regularly to discuss what they want to grow in their careers and how their desires might be accommodated.

Instead of the annual review that’s dreaded by managers and employees alike, work on continuous feedback to motivate us throughout the year.

Try to get work/life balance and flexible working right

95% of millennials in a PWC study[2] cited work-life balance as important, yet as many as 28% felt that the work-life balance situation did not live up to their expectations.

It’s easier said than done to implement flexible working – it won’t succeed because of a written document, but when facilitated by role design, technology, leaders and culture.

Give millennials support, challenge and autonomy

Sounds tricky?

Starting a business shouldn’t be someone’s only opportunity to take charge. As ‘bright young things’ of today, we want to manage ourselves, yet with less experience, it can feel like a risk. Think about projects or tasks with clear parameters, shorter term horizons, to minimise the risk. Set us free, without looking over our shoulders…. and check in with a light touch. You’ll build trust, and hopefully, we’ll be ready and raring to go for a bigger project next.

Help us to pursue something meaningful

Millennials are often sceptical, believing that businesses have no ambition beyond profit.[3] For us, social responsibility is the ‘new religion,’[4] 63% of Millennials donate to charity, and likewise we want employers to have a sense of purpose beyond profit.[5] Indeed, these days at an assessment centre, you are more likely to find one of us grilling the CEO on their CSR policy than thinking up a clever sycophantic question.

Conveying CSR efforts to Millennials requires authenticity and involvement. We expect a two-way, open dialogue with companies and their brands. Oh, and we’ll smell the BS a mile off.

If that sense of purpose matches the Millennial’s purpose then the relationship can last beyond the generation’s typical year or two, and blossom into a relationship that is fruitful for both parties.


Tatiana Gulko, MSc, our wandering millennial

Tatiana’s advice:

“Sample the views of your staff, millennials included. Don’t assume you know their unique needs until you’ve given them the opportunity to have their shout. Give them the chance to have their say on topics that matter to them, such as work-life balance, values, autonomy, challenge and career progression. The Gen Y employee will always be their own CEO, but you can help them have a fulfilling start in your organisation and a positive experience that will equip him or her with skills and positive experiences for the rest of their lives. Give them a start they’ll thank you for.”


[1] 44% of millennials are looking to leave their job within the next two years, and only 18% expect to remain with their present employer for the significant future.




[5] Deloitte Purpose Matters infographic

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