How to Retain Talented Young Employees in the Era of Job Hopping

Four sure-fire ways to keep them happy.

The younger they are, the more likely they're looking for new jobs.

The younger they are, the more likely they’re looking for new jobs. (Anchiy/Shutterstock)

There’s a new generation of workers who recognize that working at one company for the duration of their careers is a thing of the past. We’re also seeing the millennial generation enter the workforce in increasing numbers. Many of these up-and-comers have a staunch “give it to me now or I’ll go get it somewhere else” mindset.

So for business owners and managers, how can we slow down the revolving door? I’ve learned that it’s unrealistic to think we can stop it, but we can do our best to keep team members engaged. Here are some tips that I’ve found helpful over the past 17 years.

Individual goals are just as important as company goals. The last time you left a job to start a new one, what was the reason? I’m willing to bet you felt there was a better opportunity waiting for you. We’ve all been there. You can minimize the chances your team will start to look elsewhere by creating more opportunities where they already are. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying you start handing out raises like you’re on the Oprah show (“You get a raise! And you get a raise!”) Sure, everyone wants raises and promotions, but valuable incentives come in all different forms.

Find out team members’ career goals and areas they’d like to hone in on for professional development and cultivate them. For the engineer who wants to learn how to develop mobile apps, create opportunities for her to learn this skill. Or maybe there’s a customer-service team member who’s awesome at addressing customers’ needs, but wants to become a rockstar public speaker. Open doors for them to get more face-time before their peers at company meetings. One who’s presented with opportunities to grow him/her self, and not just your company, is more likely to stick around for the long haul. And you’ll win because you end up with a team member now contributing to the success of the company in new ways.

Add some work/fun balance. There’s a reason the news media covers Coolest Companies. You know the ones: People cruising through the office on skateboards, beach balls flying in all directions. It’s because these employers challenge conventional wisdom that work is supposed to be all business all the time. Not all offices have ping pong tables and twisty slides in them, but “fun” can come in a variety of ways just like incentives. You’d be surprised at how the workplace changes with a relaxed dress code or firing off a few nerf gun rounds at your co-workers. These small things can make a big difference for a person’s happiness at work.

Whether it’s easing up on a stiff dress code, planning team building activities, or some other unconventional office practice, go beyond the obvious and inject some fun into the work day.

Hire team members not employees. You may have noticed that I never use the term employees. Our chief marketing officer at AWeber once said: “Show me an organization that hires ’employees’ to achieve company goals and I’ll show you a company that’s low on morale and high in turnover.” I agree. “Employee” implies I’m just another hire, no different from the rest. Whereas “team member” stimulates feelings of belonging and being a part of a collective force. An “employee” is probably that person who comes to work just to collect a paycheck while a “team member” is there because they care and know that the rest of the team needs them to make an impact.

Referring to workers as team members rather than employees is another subtle, but effective, way to show them trust and respect. It’s the same reason I dislike the term “boss.” I wake up every day to work with a talented group of people who are passionate about the same ideas and goals I am. My job isn’t to boss people around, it’s to help organize and strategize a course of action. Happy and engaged team members aren’t bossed around. Instead, they’re passionate and believe in company goals and do what’s needed to make them a reality. You’ll get naysayers who say that some people just want a job and to be an employee. To that I say, you hired the wrong person.

Think ergonomically. Still looking for ways to keep employees happy? Sometimes it’s the perks they don’t think about that can add tremendous value to their well-being at work. Here, I’m talking about ergonomics. Essentially, ergonomics is the act of matching the office environment to fit team members needs. Lighting, equipment, desk set-ups, temperatures, window shades and even some fresh green plants. If you have the resources and capabilities, rethink those boring old cubicles and consider an open floor plan. Invest in mobile and standing desks to inspire collaboration and alternative options for workers’ desk arrangements.

Your team members will be grateful for the thought you put into it. Trust me.

Tom Kulzer is the founder and CEO at AWeber, an email marketing service provider located in Chalfont, Pa. Over the company’s 17-year history, Tom has nurtured it from a small start-up to an organization with 100 team members serving more than 100,000 customers worldwide.

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