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February 5, 2023

To Retain Millennials, Gently Remind Them They Will Never Do Better Than You

What do abusive boyfriends and firms that don't understand Gen Y have in common? Apparently, they are supposed to use the same tactic to retain their prizes, be that a battered girlfriend or a Millennial worker with a wandering eye:

“This Millennial generation [has] seen what companies do to their people,” McGrath said recently at a forum hosted by the Maryland Association of CPAs’ Business Learning Institute. “They are under no illusions that you being loyal to the company is going to mean the company being loyal to you.”

So, some business leaders wondered, how do you keep a potentially restless segment of the workforce engaged, loyal and motivated?

“What you have to do,” McGrath said, “is compellingly give them a picture of how staying with you is going to make them more valuable, more employable when they’re done or more employable when they reach the next stage, than they are right now.”

If Millennials are more likely than generations before to consider themselves valuable right out of college (I mean that's what these articles say all the time, right?), then how exactly does a firm convince them sticking around will make them valuable-er?

This part is definitely true:

Tom Hood, CPA/CITP, CGMA, said his experience mentoring young finance professionals shows that Millennials feel held back from in-person networking efforts by their employers. “They’re so busy at work, [the companies] are not letting them out to do that networking,” said Hood, CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs, which founded the Business Learning Institute. “As employers, we should think about how we can get our people connected, because what they’re saying is they come back with great ideas. That generates innovation.”

In my experience, I'm 79% more likely to get drunk with a partner at a conference or networking event than someone in their first five years of public accounting. Depending on the event, I'm usually one of the youngest in the room because the younger staff are busy at work while the old timers get to hang out in some hotel ballroom playing Fruit Ninja on their iPads and getting drunk with a tattooed accounting writer in an inappropriately low cut top.

How is that adding value to anyone's career? "Here, you hold down the fort while we take the car service over to the hotel so we can get out of this Godforsaken office for the day mmmkay?"

Here's a freaking idea — hang tight to your panties, kids, this is going to be a blockbuster — what if Millennials want what everyone else wants? You know, to be treated like a human being and not an indentured servant, to make enough money to live the lifestyle one wants, and, at the end of the day, to feel not so much fulfilled but not suicidal either. I know, I know, this is pretty hard to believe. It's much easier to keep guessing what Millennials want and having them take endless surveys to figure it out.

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