How to Attract and Keep the Best Millennials: Part Two - Work-Life Balance

How to Attract and Keep the Best Millennials Part Two

Guest post by Ken Fortney

Millennials are the backbone of today's workforce. As Baby Boomers retire and younger workers step up to take their place, the most successful companies will be those that create a strong culture that promotes healthy work-life balance. 

In Part One of this discussion, we noted that:

Millennials are among the most tech-savvy and innovative personnel making up today's workforce.

But there's a catch. 

Employers will tell you that retaining millennials (even the top notch ones) is difficult. Google calls these millennials “smart creatives,” and they can be notoriously hard to manage using traditional performance management methods. So what's the solution? 

If you missed the first installment of this two-part discussion, I strongly encourage you to read that post first, because a good understanding of culture provides the foundation you need to establish healthy work-life balance.

For Millennials, work-life balance is more important than pay and time off. Companies expecting their employees to work traditional hours using outdated processes may find it difficult to retain key personnel.

Here's how you can change that. 

Work-Life Balance

After successfully creating an empowering and engaging company culture as we discussed in our last post, you should consider how to prevent burnout among your employees.

Here are a few strategies that current experts say will help your smart creatives remain engaged while not burning out and becoming turnover statistics.

Company Meetings

Most meetings are unproductive – In fact, executives consider more than 67% of meetings a failure.

Why is this the case? 

  1. There are far too many.
  2. There is rarely an agenda.

Naturally, employees can't be productive when they have to attend 23 hours of meetings each week. And meetings hardly achieve any real collaborative purpose when no one sets an agenda.

Millennials (and possibly your other employees) emotionally disengage from a company that needlessly eats up their time in this way. Countless millennials bemoan missing deadlines or secretly working extra hours at nights and on weekends.

Company leaders should guard employee schedules by limiting the frequency and duration of company meetings. Additionally, leaders should set rigorous standards for how managers conduct those meetings so that they are as brief and productive as possible.


Many companies completely ignore one of the finest ways to inspire top performance from their millennial employees.

For many workers, the main way "to get recognized" by your employer is to stay as long as possible. Never mind that so-and-so is notorious for mediocre work and mentoring younger employees to "not make waves." She has been with the company forever, and that's why she's been promoted and gets recognized at company banquets.

But what if deadlines became celebrated milestones, and employers built programs to incentivize reaching those milestones? These newly celebrated deadlines could also serve as recruitment opportunities for newly-vacant leadership positions.

When companies treat deadlines this way, reaching deadlines carries a greater sense of accomplishment among members of the team.

And taking this a step further: why not save office parties for real accomplishments? Anticipation of office celebrations directly connects deadline achievement to the company mission and values. The sense of accomplishment causes employees to stop and thank each other and themselves for reaching their objective.

And what about the annual holiday party? Some companies may discover that employees would prefer a half day off instead of staying at work without being able to actually work. Employees can hurry home to family and friends for the holiday energized by a job well-done and a company that celebrates their efforts.

Most HR software platforms allow employers to manage deadlines and incentive programs together or separately. Coordinating both of these features into milestones gives managers the tools they need to regularly remind team members of upcoming milestones and events through the software's social media channels or notifications.

Growth and Training

Millennials look beyond the job description. They need to see direction. Another Gallup poll noted that:

Millennials care deeply about their development when looking for jobs and -- naturally -- in their current roles. An impressive 87% of millennials rate ‘professional or career growth and development opportunities’ as important to them in a job -- far more than the 69% of non-millennials who say the same.

In addition to showing employees how project deadlines/milestones contribute to promotion and growth, companies can create internal educational tracks in anticipation of "talent gaps" over time. Employees interested in honing their expertise and growing within the company can take advantage of these tracks, making it a permanent part of their profile within the company.

Many organizations, such as Six Sigma, offer third-party training to increase the efficiency and leadership skills of team members. Companies offering internal and external opportunities for growth create opportunities to build loyalty with their millennial employees.

Personal Time

Contrary to popular belief among Baby Boomers, millennials don't necessarily want more time off. Instead, they want more flexibility.

More so than any generation before them, millennials are highly tuned in to their peak performance times. When managed in a way that lets them have more control of their work hours, millennials perform stunningly well.

Aside from tradition, there’s no real reason for an employee to stay at their desk for a defined time frame Monday through Friday.

Smart employers have discovered that offering flexible work hours and telecommuting opportunities actually improves employee performance

Most importantly, paid time off combined with flexible work hours eliminates burn out, which is at an all-time high in the US workplace. Many employees actually leave a job to get a break instead of just taking their accrued PTO. They correctly surmise that the job itself prevents them from achieving a healthy work-life balance.

It's the 21st Century

 In conclusion, the millennial workforce stands ready to excel on a team that creates an environment of purpose. Performance management need not occur (and perhaps cannot truly be achieved) at the expense of an inspiring culture and healthy work-life balance.

Today's advances in HR technology allow employers to succeed at more than simply being compliant and telling employees what to do. Never before has there been so much available for employers to drastically improve communication and flexibility for their millennial workforce. 

And these advances ultimately increase productivity and employee retention.

Finally, the companies that take advantage of the opportunities of 21st-century performance management tactics will accomplish more than simply keeping their millennial workers on the team: they will also grab more in market share and create new markets altogether.


Ken Fortney bio pic

About the Author

Ken Fortney is a marketing coach and business writer at In addition to his MBA and Masters in Marketing/Public Relations, Ken researches entrepreneurial self-efficacy and provides SEO content marketing strategy to 21st Century businesses.



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