Aug 23

Four Strategies To Attract And Keep Your Best Millennial Talent


It’s no surprise that millennials make up a large portion of the nonprofit industry, whether as employees or volunteers. Not only are they the largest generation in the U.S. workforce today, they’re dubbed the most giving. What also makes them great employees for nonprofits — or any innovative company, for that matter — is that they’re tech-savvy and understand social media.

But according to Gallup, 60% of millennials leave companies in less than three years. Employee engagement tactics that worked for GenX-ers aren’t as effective for millennials because they’re motivated differently. Even if you’re able to attract millennial talent into entry-level positions, getting them to stay with your organization is a separate challenge.

Below, four nonprofit executives from Forbes Nonprofit Council share the initiatives that helped them retain their top-performing millennial talent.


Jennifer Friend, Chip Rogers, Peggy Smith, Pamela Hawley. Photos courtesy of the individual members.

Jennifer Friend, Chip Rogers, Peggy Smith, Pamela Hawley. Photos courtesy of the individual members.

Give Meaningful Work  

Your millennial employees joined your organization because they care about the initiatives you support — and purpose-driven work is a powerful motivating factor.

Jennifer Friend, the CEO of Project Hope Alliance, says, “The social impact sector combines innovation, competency, authenticity, empathy and vision in a way that the for-profit sector cannot.”

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She and her team help fight child homelessness in Orange County by providing stable housing and quality education programs for the children and their families. Project Hope Alliance’s team pagefeatures the staff sharing why they “dare to care” as a reminder of what motivates them.

“While profits may stand in the center of a for-profit mission, changing the world for good is at the center of a nonprofit,” says Friend. “This unifies the brain and heart in a powerfully compelling way that asks the ‘whole’ person to show up to work.”

Offer Flexibility

Demonstrating flexibility isn’t limited to what happens during the 9-to-5 work hours; it’s about creating a better overall work-life balance. Chip Rogers is the president and CEO of The Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), which protects the interests of Asian-American hotel owners through advocacy, professional development and community involvement.

He puts it simply: “Emphasize productivity over clock-punching.”

Focusing on time clocked in diminishes your team’s ability to find their own method of producing their best work. The option to work from home or opportunities to travel, for instance, can remove the monotony of the day-to-day and inspire your employees’ most innovative ideas.

Rogers also points out that offering flexibility can be a great, budget-friendly solution for disengaged millennials. “Even if you’re a small nonprofit with limited resources, you can offer a chance for them to shape their own job description, involve them in higher-level projects, and give generous time off,” he says.

Support Their Personal Growth

If your millennial employees helped shape your organization’s success since its early days, why not show that you care about their personal growth, too?

Peggy Smith, the president and CEO of Worldwide ERC, a nonprofit that improves workplace mobility, believes millennials are naturally inquisitive, and that they’re not content with mindlessly completing work that’s put in front of them.

She says, “This group craves training, mentoring and career-pathing through varied development opportunities.”

Work with your leadership team to incorporate an educational component that combines skill set training and mentorship into each department. Better yet, offer support if your employees are pursuing something outside of work for their personal fulfillment.

 “Many companies offer paid volunteer time to support millennials’ desire to make a difference, and to underscore the organization’s social conscience reputation,” says Smith.

Market The Good Of Your Company

Here’s the clincher. You’ve worked hard building your organization. Now, showcase it by strengthening your employer brand. You’ll not only improve the market perception of your company but attract great talent.

Pamela Hawley is the founder and CEO of UniversalGiving, a nonprofit that connects volunteers and donors to high-quality service opportunities. She says an organization’s impact starts with its team, so you want to a recruitment process that attracts people in line with your vision.

“You have to market that you do good. It’s about ensuring your vision and mission are reaching the right people. Your impact must be in your dialogue from the start in recruiting,” she says.

So, revisit your online brand. What do people see when they Google your organization? Does it accurately reflect your mission and culture? If not, fine-tune your social media profiles so your message reaches your target audience. And if you have millennials on your team, leverage them to create content that resonates with their peers. They can be powerful brand evangelists.

Says Hawley: “Your organization is honest and has clear integrity. It’s about how much your employees can give and volunteer, how much impact you make, and how your leadership endorses, believes and lives it.”

Source: Four Strategies To Attract And Keep Your Best Millennial Talent

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