Don’t Promote Millennials – Engage Them

In our last case study, we talked about a Millennial named Rick who was frustrated with the amount of time it would take him to get a promotion in his field.

That amount of time? One year.

Is a Year a Long Time to Wait?

How you feel about that situation probably depends heavily on which generation you’re from. If you’re a Millennial, a year might seem like a very long time to wait for a promotion you’re already qualified for. If you’re a Boomer, a year probably seems like no time at all to wait for a promotion.

If you’re from Generation X, the generation before the Boomers? Waiting only one year for a promotion probably seems like an unthinkably short amount of time.

Workplaces have changed substantially over the generations, and the ways that people move up the ladder have also changed, so none of these perspectives is wrong.

Millennials are accustomed to rapid advancement because many of their first jobs rewarded talent with rapid promotion – at first.

Eventually, however, a Millennial will wind up in a job where promotion isn’t available immediately, and they will likely be frustrated with the lack of movement.

This is when many Millennials jump ship – a very common complaint from my Boomer-era clients.

Why Millennials Leave For a Better Title

“They’re always willing to leave as soon as someone else offers them something better,” – I hear this all the time, and it’s a little bit true.

After all, if someone offered YOU something better, wouldn’t you jump at the chance?

Now, obviously, you can’t keep promoting your Millennials indefinitely. That would be ridiculous. For one thing, you’d eventually run out of rungs on the career ladder. For another, you don’t need as many managers as you need frontline employees – there are fewer and fewer opportunities the higher you go.

So the question isn’t: how can I avoid Millennials leaving for a higher level position?

The question is: how can I make sure that when given the choice between their current title at my company and a more advanced title at another company, staying with my company seems like the “better” option?

Millennials don’t leave because they’re really that obsessed with being a Senior Manager rather than a Manager.

They leave because they’re bored.

Promoting Yourself Out of Professional Boredom

Titles aren’t actually very important to Millennials. Getting paid a salary appropriate to their skill level is important, but the title is not. They don’t need you to promote them to C-level executive to get them to stick around.

What they do need is a job they’re interested in doing.

A promotion often provides that challenge. If you’re bored, and you think the next promotion will give you new and exciting challenges to tackle, you’ll go for the promotion.

But if your workplace offers lots of ways to tackle new and exciting challenges regardless of your title? You’ll be exceedingly likely to stay in a workplace that you find interesting, engaging, and full of opportunities.

How to Keep Millennials Engaged

Every company has huge challenges it faces all the time.

What if every one of your employees was empowered to tackle those problems for you?

Some challenges are too private or too advanced for all employees to know about. But many could be tackled by any employee at any level – if only they knew about the problem.

Keep a backburner of those challenges. Encourage your employees to work on them. Provide pay raises and incentives for the employees who come up with solutions that save your company money or bring in new revenue. Raise up the employees who come up with the most innovative solutions.

You’ll wind up with a team of engaged, excited employees who are constantly looking for ways to make your company better.

And when that other company waves a shiny title at them? Most of them won’t even consider it.

Who needs a title when they love their job this much?

Paige Cornetet