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How to attract and retain young talent

Posted by Chad O'Connor  October 23, 2012 11:00 AM

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Retaining talent is crucial to a company's continued success and a city's economic prosperity. The Millennial Generation has been drawn to Boston because of the City's schools, growing companies, and innovative local leadership. "I love Boston since it has a built-in culture of entrepreneurship and it is easy to get around by foot, bike, and mass transit. The culture is one that truly tries to help one another while the size makes it feel like a small town…." says Damon Magnuski of Consequently, an employer seeking long-term growth must understand what motivates the Millennial Generation and communicate to young talent in a way that retains a company’s future leaders.

Commonly known as Generation Y, the Millennial Generation includes people born roughly between 1979 and 2000. Appreciating a young employee's expectations and work style is a significant test for companies that are recruiting talent to address today's needs, while concurrently seeking to benefit their organizations over the long term. As the country's cities compete to attract tomorrow's leaders, Boston continues to enjoy the unique position of being a hub of cooperation between the public and private sectors. According to the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), more than $879 million in private investment in the City of Boston will result in over 2,400 new construction jobs alone. Consequently, the unprecedented collaboration between public and private interests has led to fertile ground for Boston's economic growth during a challenging global environment.

Employee retention of Millennials requires innovative employee engagement strategies and tactics. According to Vivian Giang of the Business Insider, "Millennials are thought to be a generation who are more apt to move from one opportunity to the next, and employers are having a hard time retaining these workers." Hence, managers must accept that Millennials represent a different breed of employee that must be addressed in a discrete manner. Millennials are used to being able to obtain information quickly due to their access to data through Google, YouTube, and other online resources. Correspondingly, feedback to Millennial employees must be frequent, transparent, and considered valuable by the Millennial employee in order to facilitate the employee engagement process.

Millennials and Baby Boomers differ in numerous characteristics. CNN found that "Generation Y rates the importance of having an "engaging workplace" highest and the "quality of meeting rooms" lowest, while baby boomers rate these features opposite, with high importance on meeting rooms." In essence, members of different generations are attracted to dissimilar benefits. Managers must be aware of the various ways that the execution of engagement strategies should differ for members of each generation. According to Cam Marston of, "Boomer managers have a tendency to lose the interest of their Millennial employees by looking too far into the future. Millennials live in timeframes based on right now. Their world has proven that nothing is a guarantee -- from nationwide layoffs to war to soaring divorce rates, they have decided that there's not a lot you can count on. As a result they are not interested in promotion plans for five years from now." Frequent recognition is mandatory to maintain the interest of younger employees due to Millennial employees being talented but fickle. Thus, a manager must interact with younger staff members in ways specifically designed to engage Millennials.

An employer has to understand why employees would want to become part of their team. For that reason, an employer must have a transparent value proposition that appeals to the Millennial mindset. Further, once an employee is hired, the employer must ensure that the reality of the company's environment matches the reputation of the organization. Otherwise, employees will lose faith in the overall mission of the organization and become less loyal to the employer. Millennials want autonomy that is complemented with constant feedback on their performance. The foundation for a mutually beneficial relationship is formed when a Millennial feels involved in the planning or development of the organization. Employer comprehension of the Millennial mindset is the cornerstone of retaining young talent.

As the global economy adjusts to the new normal, innovative cities, such as Boston, have an opportunity to increase their economic standing. Attracting talent and making the local environment appealing to businesses are crucial elements of making a world class city even better or transforming a competitive company into an elite organization. According to Deloitte Consulting LLP, “Employee segments at high risk of departure, or "turnover red zones," are employees with less than two years on the job and Millennial employees…." Therefore, even though Boston is alluring to Millennials and the Boston economy is better than most other cities, local companies must continue to communicate to Millennial employees in ways that resonate with Generation Y sensibilities.

Lennox Chase is an attorney that sits on the board of directors for Needham Bank and is also the founder of MyBarPrep, a tutoring company for lawyers and law school students.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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