Millennials: How to Attract, Retain and Manage

By Bhavna Chadalavada

Much has been said and written about millennials (generally referred to by researchers as having birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s), but little of it has come from within our generation itself. The reality about us is that we want what the business community at large wants and needs, but we are pushing for it harder and faster than some are comfortable with. It’s causing us to leave jobs, shuffle positions frequently, befuddle our superiors, generally cause angst, and in some cases accelerate desired culture shifts.

Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Global, put it aptly when he said “The message is clear: when looking at their career goals, Millennials are just as interested in how a business develops its people and how it contributes to society as they are in its products and profits. These findings should be viewed as a wake-up call to the business community.” And, the wake-up call is coming quickly: by the end of 2015, millennials are expected to overtake baby boomers in the workforce as more and more boomers reach retirement age.

We are a generation that has embraced and fueled rapid technological advancement and creative innovation that has changed the scope of multiple facets of the world today: from medicine and healthcare, to poverty, water and hunger, to social connection, dating, food and music. So, what are the tricks to attract, retain, and manage the best among us? Read ahead to find out.


We love free lunch, but we know that culture goes beyond that. The following 3 elements are critical to attracting us.

(1) Purpose, mission, meaning

77% of millennials state that their “ability to excel in their job is contingent upon deriving meaning from their work”. We want our employers to have a purpose and mission for their business (for 6 in 10 Millennials, a “sense of purpose,” is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employers), and we want to connect to it in order to feel enlivened and energized by the work we are doing.
In all honesty though, who wants a grinding, robotic 9-5 culture? Employers and the former generation seem to have grown used to it, and have tolerated it either because they see no other way, or because they see another way and don’t know how to get there.

Millennials are built to get there: we are here to change things and make sure those changes stick. “Big Four” Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is planning for a workforce of nearly 80% millennials in 2016. It might take other organizations a few more years, but millennials are expected to make up 75% of the workforce by the year 2025.

(2) Quality of leadership

According to a Deloitte study, today’s Millennials place less value on visible (19%), well-networked (17%), and technically-skilled (17%) leaders. Instead, they define true leaders as strategic thinkers (39%), inspirational (37%), personable (34%) and visionary (31%).
Who we are working under is a big reason we would want to be associated with a given company. The opportunity to observe a strategic-thinking, inspirational, personable, and visionary leader from close quarters is in many cases enough to hook us in.

(3) Opportunity for learning and development

business team meeting-large by Eric Bailey, Pexel

By Eric Bailey

Maneuverability (ability to shift area of work within a given company, along with potential for growth of responsibility in a role) & development initiatives for employees (beyond your standard Training program) are critical. To illustrate this point, if we are given a choice of:

A) Less pay at a company that:

• Has opportunities for learning and development within a given role.
• Offers us the ability to shadow and learn about other roles and potentially eventually make an internal transition.

B) A higher-paying position at a company with:

• Perks (free lunch) & Incentives (cash-bonuses).
• A boxed-in position with little opportunity for development.

We are choosing option A (unless, for unfortunate economic reasons – like student loans – we have to take B).


Inherently, we are built to make businesses successful and last – but getting caught up in short term ROI and losing sight of us as people is a sure way to isolate and push us away. We care about the success of the business, but we also see how that goes hand in hand with unleashing the best in an organization’s people.

If we are treated like a number, we will go ahead and treat our employers like a number right back. We’ll stop coming in early and leaving late, and we’ll do the job just well enough to stay hired – until we find something better and jump ship. Most of us are already cultivating our side hobbies and projects, so if you give us reason enough, we will dedicate more and more of our time and energy into that. We’ll clock in and clock out until one day we drop the job and leave, just like our employers fear.

It may sound self-serving, but it is a protective mechanism that ultimately allows not only us but also our employers to thrive: by hiring and retaining the right people while creating and maintaining a culture of purpose. A culture of purpose is proven by multiple sources by now to outperform financially – this is no longer a debate.

If companies have a mission and purpose that is adhered to, provide resources and programs for training and development, and their people and leaders are indicative of the culture and mission they seek to promote – they’ve got us locked in. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got.

But if not, we’re going to eventually leave and have our employers scratching their heads wondering what went wrong. What went wrong is that expectations out of workplaces have changed, and we need more than your typical scene from The Office – which unfortunately (and comically) is still tolerated by many organizations.

The facts and figures support this:

• According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, millennials rated training and development as the most highly valued employee benefit. In fact, training and development outranked cash bonuses by a whopping 300%.
• 78% of millennials surveyed by MTV said “even if I have a job it’s important to have a side project that could become a different career.”
• Unlike previous generations that sought out career destinations, millennials are job hoppers, expecting to stay in a job for less than three years. Job hopping can lead to greater fulfillment, which is vitally important to this generation.
• 88% percent of millennials considered “positive culture important or essential to their job” and said that if they don’t have it at their current employer, they will look elsewhere.


If our employers create the right culture and hire the right people, managing us becomes less work – which is what both sides want anyway.
In more granular terms, what we want day to day is:

1) Clear goals and projects.
2) Independence to work and create (high trust).
3) A collaborative environment (a whopping 88% of millennials prefer a collaborative work environment over a competitive one).
4) Check-ins fairly often where we are kept appraised of our performance by a forward-thinking and accessible manager (according to a survey by Millennial Branding and American Express, 53% of millennials said a mentorship relationship would help them become better and more productive workers).

When discussing career plans and progress, 96% of millennials want to talk face-to-face. We don’t want to be surprised with immediate repercussions or talked behind – we want to be told how we can improve. Being given less responsibility as a result of what we do not yet know does not motivate us, it deflates us.

success-479568_640 (Pixabay)

By Gerd Altmann

We were raised in an increasingly transparent world – to us, being a “straight shooter” is not a rarity. Being open and communicative is our way of life, and we consider it a sign of trust and investment that you’ll provide us with feedback rather than treat us like a dispensable cog in a machine. According to a University of North Carolina study, 88% of millennials said they would rather receive feedback in real time, not to mention frequent in-person check-ins on progress.

And, we’ll take it a step further too: we want to be able to have a dialogue about our company’s (or even just our team’s) growth and performance. Just because we are less experienced and less grey-haired, we don’t think that should stop us from being able to contribute to decisions being made. Our employers have our buy-in (millennials have no shame in allowing their professional and social worlds to collide, with 70% having “friended” their managers and coworkers on Facebook), so shouldn’t the trust extend both ways?

As a millennial who has worked on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley for an old-guard global Tech corporation, in start-ups, and for consulting firms – these insights remain true across the board. Some companies have caught on, and some have not, but the future lies here. And, the most innovative and successful companies out there are now utilizing this knowledge full-scale – it is no longer a question of if it is worth the initial investment to do so. It ends up costing more in turnover and poor performance not to!

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2018

Bhavna Chadalavada writes and speaks on Millennials in Corporate America, and serves as a consultant and thought partner for established Leadership coaches. She is connected to the Conscious Capitalism movement, and has partnered with the Conscious Business Firm Axialent as well as Values-Based Leadership Consulting firm LRN. Earlier in her career she worked in Finance on Wall Street for UBS and in Tech Consulting in Silicon Valley for Oracle. She is a graduate of Columbia University, where she also played D1 Basketball. For more information, you can contact Bhavna at

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, & our website:

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit,

The Fog of Uncertainty: Ideas for Dealing with Uncertainty to Reach your Destination

By Dana Borowka – Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

The idea for this article came while driving up the coast towards Malibu, California. The morning sun was rising and I noticed a fog bank several miles off the coast. It was interesting to see it from this perspective. The wall of fog stood before the magnificent coast line with many miles of visibility mountainsin both directions. As the sun continued to rise, the top of the fog bank was whisking around which made for a beautiful scene. As I headed up into the mountains to get to my destination, I kept looking back to see how it was progressing. As I ascended in elevation, I could clearly see the fog was covering the ocean as far as the eye could see. The fog was progressing towards the shore and in just a matter of a few minutes what was clear visibility along the coast was now completely obscured.

Have you ever had this experience in either your business or personal life? You have a course, a plan, a direction and then… the fog rolls in. What do you do? I’d like to share an experience. Then we’ll jump into some specific steps that you can consider and talk over with your team members as we move into the new year.

I have been an avid sailor and that usually leads to getting bigger boats over time. We traveled to San Diego, California to purchase our next boat that was 28 feet in length. We needed to get the boat to Marina del Rey, California which is an 100+ mile journey. We had planned on bringing it up over a two day period. Our plans included having all the appropriate tools – a navigational chart, GPS, fog horn, radar deflector mounted on the mast but we had no radar. When we woke up in the early morning hours to set sail on our sailboatjourney and opened the hatch we could barely see the boat next to us – the fog was so thick that visibility was only 15-20 feet at best. We waited a bit for the fog to clear but we had a schedule to keep. So with charts and GPS in hand we set out and made our way through the harbor very carefully. Our charting was spot on but we had a spotter/listener on the bow to make sure we didn’t miss anything. Things were going well until we hear the sound of waves crashing – we were off course and fortunately we had our spotter on the bow. We adjusted our course immediately and made it out to sea. The fog cleared and we had porpoises swimming all around us with clear sailing and visibility. On the final leg home, we hit fog again. This time we made it to the breakwater which appeared right in front of us by only 100 feet or so. It was just where we thought it would be thanks to the planning.

Uncertainty can seem to be a constant theme. Yet if we have a plan and remain flexible with our goals then we can make it through the fog and reach our destination safe and sound. By using the ideas we are about to share you’ll know if your organization is heading towards the rocks, the open sea or on a clear course towards your destination.

Think for a moment about the various components of a boat that are needed in order to keep it afloat and heading in the intended direction. Observe how they compare to your organization.

Components of a Vessel

Hull – Need to have a structure that can endure and thrive in the elements.
Fuel – The energy needed to move the vessel forward and towards its destination.
Crew – The crew will either make sure the ship reaches its destination in a timely manner or cause it to go off course or cause an incident that could result in loss of resources.

oceanThe Changing Environment

Water is the most unstable surface on our planet. No matter how much planning a business does a rogue wave can come along and cause havoc. This might be changes in the market, unhappy clients, distribution channels, technology, financial, etc. Preparation can only go so far yet if your organization has one key ingredient you’ll be able to survive and thrive beyond your wildest dreams.

Key Ingredient to Thrive

The answer always comes back to having the right crew on board. It all begins with the selection process, mentoring and staff development. If this is done correctly or you have the right people with potential for growth, you’ll not only make it through to 2011… you’ll also be ready to ride the wave of 2012 and beyond! Let’s take a look at how this works.

By having the right crew on board, you’ll have:

♦ Contributors – That will help the ship reach its course through innovation, ingenuity, timely fulfillment of tasks, follow through, etc.
♦ Happy customers – They’ll keep coming back due to the outstanding service and quality of the product.
♦ Happy employees – They’ll go the extra mile for the organization and its customers. This also leads to positive word of mouth that can attract top talent.
♦ Open Minded Culture – Problem solving is the key to anticipate needs, deal with weather changes, being open to adapting to the environment.
♦ Profitability – You’ll meet your organization’s goal and objective where everyone is rewarded for doing a great job and your organization will be able to continue to provide services and products with the opportunity to visit other destinations in the future.

An organization can build a sturdy ship but without the right people behind the scenes it won’t leave port. All this starts with the captain of the ship and with its officers. If they select the correct crew up front, they know the job will get done correctly, in a timely manner and the work can be trusted. Can you trust that your crew will do their job not only correctly but in a timely manner? Do they also contribute ideas for further improvement so you can get the maximum value from each individual?

If the answer is “I’m not sure” then your answer may be reflective of the future survival of your vessel. Every organization must have all hands on deck with crew members that are excited and grateful to be aboard and have the ability to perform the best they can.

A Whale of a Tale for Teamwork

A manager once had an outstanding team but always told everyone what to do. This person didn’t listen, didn’t ask questions, demanded a higher level of volume without asking if the organization could handle it and created a closed environment. Over time things started to slip through the cracks, customers were not getting the attention they needed, whalesales slipped, people started to leave and the organization began to develop a bad reputation where recruitment became a problem. Upper management stepped in and started to ask the team members for their feedback. It turned out that the manager was not a good fit for that position and was transitioned into another department. When the new manager was selected, it was based not only on experience but also the ability to work with others. They learned that it is vital to understand a person’s work style and how they interact with others in order to have a high performing team. If just one person isn’t “playing well in the sandbox” the effects can ruin a brand and effect sales and future growth of an organization.

A Checklist for Success

♦ When selecting the crew – have a clear understanding of the ideal crew member and have a system and process to assure you have selected the correct crew members. This can be done through interviewing and asking questions for specific examples and compare those answers to what an ideal crew member would do. Gather as much data as possible from reference and background checks as well as provide an in-depth work style and personality assessment with Lighthouse Consulting Services. The information should be used to validate the interview responses, background and reference checks.
♦ Ask each current crew member for feedback on where they think that the team and themselves could be more efficient in the market place within the next 30-60-90 days. This means that everyone on your ship needs to have their eyes and ears open to seeing where it might be possible to improve and enhance processes, structure, services, customer service, etc.
♦ Captains and officers need to listen to everyone and create a truly open environment. Come up with three things that you can do that will make that happen.
♦ Define what the ideal crew member would possess in skills, work style and personality and make it measurable.
♦ Assist the current crew to fulfill that role. Make sure you have an in-depth work style and personality assessment of your crew members so you’ll have the insight on how to help everyone thrive and to get the best performance from each team member. Through in-depth assessments you will discover how your staff solves problems, deals with stress, makes decisions, processes information, creates and follows up on leads, etc. This will help to ensure that you have the right person in the correct position so they can perform to the best of their ability. Contact us at to get started.

lighthouse and boatsIf you have the right team in place, your organization will be able to deal with the many challenges that will come along during the voyage. The key is to hire right the first time and to assist those on board to be the best that they can be. This will lead to happy customers, happy employees, innovation for the future, efficiency for delivery of the product or service and of course, a profitable bottom line.

To take a leadership assessment to see if you have what it takes to help your organization sail well into the future, please click on here. You can gather additional ideas for working with your current and future crew members by reading our books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, go to:

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2015

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He provides workshops on hiring, managing for the future, and techniques to improve interpersonal communications that have a proven ROI. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, & our website:

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit,