Attracting (And Then Keeping) Your Top Millennial Talent

Attracting (And Then Keeping) your Top Millennial Talent

Hi everyone! I hope by now you’ve all adjusted to either “life without kids in school” or “exactly the same as yesterday, but warmer”. In other words, SUMMER!! Easily my favorite season of the year, it’s half the reason we moved from the Midwest to Dallas a few years ago. (The other half was so that I could wear jorts more often. Am I serious about that? You’ll have to visit me to find out.)

Anyway, the other day I got a text message from a good friend of mine who coincidentally throws a Jorts-Themed summer party each year in Chicago (100% serious on that one). He and I have been talking about leadership development for years – but not necessarily in the way you might think. It’s our shared belief that organizations are struggling with how to develop their talent in this new age of business. Gone are the traditional models for leadership development (mainly wait until the person above you moves on and creates an opening) and now we’re living in an age where people much more frequently go out and seek leadership development on their own – often leaving organizations for another one, jumping industries, or venturing off on their own. (Here’s a related article on the topic.) Attracting and then keeping top talent in your organization is a major concern of many businesses, so I wanted to take this opportunity to talk specifically about the Millennial generation and why they might be more apt to jump ship.

Probably the #1 gripe I hear when I speak to and work with various companies is that the Millennial generation isn’t loyal. (The #2 gripe is that they expect to be CEO after 6-weeks on the job.) And yes, there is some truth to this. But to merely chalk this up to a problem of an entire generation overlooks a basic understanding of how we got here in the first place.


Before the internet came along, how’d you go about finding a job? Circling the classifieds? Walking in the front door of the big employer in your hometown? Calling up a family friend? Any of those may have worked, and to some degree those avenues are still alive today. But what I don’t think older people understand is how the internet created an opportunity to find thousands of employment opportunities across the country – and internationally – within a matter of minutes. It’s a million times easier today to find a job 15 hours away from where you live and realize that you have options. So if you’re interested in keeping your top talent, you need to recognize that you can’t rest on the laurels of your company’s benefits package or corporate perks. Those are easily replicated elsewhere – and they are much easier to find than they were 20 years ago. Instead, focus on the things you can offer that are much more difficult to replicate – strong personal relationships, a connection to a larger vision, and opportunities to make an impact on the lives of others to name a few. Bottom line, salaries and benefits are easy for your competitors to copy, but a strong sense of community isn’t.


And I mean an insatiable thirst – like the kind you get after downing an entire bag of popcorn or finishing a 5k if you’re silly enough to enjoy running for no reason. That’s not to say older generations don’t have the same thirst, but what’s different is how Millennials seek those opportunities for knowledge. Development used to come on the job – you started working for a company, they trained you, you performed the job well, and you continued to advance your career. There’s still some of this today, but Millennials are far more likely to seek out development opportunities on their own if they feel like they’re not getting it from you – they can find plenty of opportunities on the Internet (there’s that stupid Internet thing again!) – and sometimes the opportunities they find lead them toward other organizations. If you don’t want your top talent pursuing those options, ask them what type of development they’re seeking. It’s not always the same for each person and sometimes you’ll be able to fulfill their needs without breaking the bank or setting up a whole new developmental program at your company. The key is you’ll never know where and how they want to grow if you don’t ask.

I hope you enjoyed these thoughts – including the article in Forbes as well! For now, I’m off to finish enjoying the start of my summer. There’s got a be a cookout somewhere looking for some jorts to join the party.

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