How To Retain and Motivate Millennials

Nigel Dessau, Author, Become a 21st Century Executive

How To Retain and Motivate Millennials

They say no one can avoid death or taxes. If you own a business here’s another one – you will not be able to avoid managing Millennials. Soon, Millennials will be 50% of the workforce and here are 3 facts that say they are different: 90% think they deserve their dream job, 50% would rather have no job than one they hate and 25% say they are satisfied with their current job.

In my book, Become a 21st Century Executive: Breaking Away from the Pack, I mostly focused on helping Millennials understand some of the skills they need to become leaders. However, one of the most frequent questions I get at The 3 Minute Mentor site ( is how do you retain and motivate this generation of employees?  Here are 5 ideas I suggest to keep these ‘fickle’ young people.

1. Don’t confuse what motivates you with what will motivate them.

While you do it for love or money or both, Millennials are more driven by ‘purpose.’ They believe they work to achieve a higher meaning or purpose. Find out what drives them and you will find the key to unlocking their motivation.

2. Don’t assume that if you can’t see them they are not working.

When it comes to ‘face-time’, learn to be happy with FaceTime. That means you have to accept that even if they are not in front of you they still may be working. Millennials use the technology to do work and often have different hours than you. So if you are not used to texting and emojis it may be time to learn. Given this environment, it becomes paramount that you send them clear objectives and that you judge their output not their way of achieving it.

3. Allow for their ‘me time’.

Seven out of ten Millennials want to make sure they have ‘me time’ while at work. That means Thou Shall Never utter the words “if you are using Facebook then you are not working.” In their world, the rigid walls between work and play are much less defined. Again, if you have set them clear objectives and they are making them, try not to fuss about how they are achieving them.

4. Make them part of your world

You never liked it when your mother said “because I told you to” and neither will they!  They want to understand ‘why?’ before they will commit to doing. Take the time to mentor and explain. If possible connect your strategy and approach to their purpose. Remember, every interaction is a teaching moment – take it.

5. Feedback when they need it, not when you want to give it

Your Millennials will not be happy with an annual review or worst of all, no feedback at all. They are used to (and will demand) continuous feedback and that could mean daily. When talking, commend what they do well, what you want to see more of. When they miss the mark, explain what they could have done better.

It’s easy to look at this list and say “no one ever did this for me.” True, but not really relevant. If you can learn to deploy these 5 simple ideas you will be more able to retain and grow your team. That is good for your business and in the end, that is good for you and them.

About the Author

Nigel Dessau is a nationally award-winning marketing professional with over 25 years of experience leading corporate marketing and communications for several multi-million and billion dollar companies.

Dessau is the creator of the 3 Minute Mentor website, which provides career guidance in three minute videos. His book, Become a 21st Century Executive, is based upon concepts found in the 3 Minute Mentor.

Learn more about the 3 Minute Mentor and Become a 21st Century Executive at or

Become a 21st Century Executive is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.