Keep Calm and Retain On

How to create a company culture that attracts and retains Millennials.

It’s a sentiment that is beautiful in its simplicity: Keep calm and carry on.

But how are you supposed to do that when you’re worried about top, young talent leaving your company?

It’s no secret that Millennials have ushered in a new era of workplace norms. Gone are the days when employees “should be grateful to work here.” They have been replaced by questions such as: “Why should I work here,” or worse yet, “Why should I keep working here?”

Millennial mobility has made retention, not attraction, into the worry of the day. So what is the secret to employee retention?

The key to retaining the best young talent around is to build and maintain the best company culture around. Company culture that aligns with the beliefs and desires of your employees will be hard to resist and difficult to leave.

If you build it, they will come.

If you maintain it, they will stay.

Those should be your mantras.

So what can we do, as leaders, to get started on building a modern-day Field of Dreams for our young employees and then keep it going for years to come? Simply start with these three guiding principles, and you will be well on your way to creating a career home that is as difficult to resist as it is to leave.

1. Create connection: Vulnerability and authenticity are more vital to organizational success than ever before. The advent of popular psychology and emotional intelligence has left us understanding—more than ever before—that people are paramount. Workplace formalities have given way to a new movement where people are encouraged to bring their most honest, genuine selves to work every day.

Millennials are chief participants in this movement. They respond best to authentic leaders who know how to cultivate a culture of transparency. They want to see diversity celebrated, experiences shared, and voices valued, above all else.

Investing in your people is one of the best bets you can make. Take the time and energy to create connections throughout your organization, and watch your returns grow.

2. Deliver development: Growth and opportunity are as important now as ever. Once you master Step 1 and create connection, you will realize the magnitude of this need among your employees—especially with your Millennials. The No. 1 reason Millennials leave companies is because of a lack (or a perceived lack) of development opportunities.

As a leader, you are the best positioned to acknowledge and act upon this need. If you’ve taken the necessary time to invest in your employees, you’ll be able to coach them (not boss them) to their full potential and beyond.

Providing opportunities for growth and making them readily apparent will pay off in spades. Be the best coach you can be, not the best boss you can be.

3. Find focus: Vision and mission are no longer buzzwords or long-winded statements of meaning. They resonate to the core of your employees and provide their reason for being. This is of the utmost importance to Millennials. They don’t want to work. They want to matter.

If your company’s vision and mission touch the hearts of your employees, you’re that much closer to retaining your top talent. Make sure that everyone in the organization, especially Millennials, understand how their role and responsibilities fit into the big picture. If they know they have a meaningful impact, they will work for you with blood, sweat, and tears—as well as years.

Finding a company focus and spreading that message whenever possible will give you the best chance at retaining your best people. It’s easy to quit a job. It’s hard to quit a cause. Do these things now: Create connection. Deliver development. Find focus.

And remember: Keep calm and retain on.

Ryan Jenkins is an internationally recognized Millennial keynote speaker and author. He equips organizations and leaders with the next-generation leadership, communication, and branding skills needed to thrive in today’s multi-generational marketplace. Jenkins blogs at