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5/1/15 6:11 AM Stephanie Hunter

employee retention strategiesWe need to go well beyond chicken and parsleyed rice lunches and monogrammed pens for effective employee retention strategies.

I remember a time when my Dad would come home with a brochure listing awards and gifts that he could select from his company. This glossy tri-fold was sent (via interdepartmental pigeon holed yellow envelopes) to employees celebrating their 5, 10, 15, and 20+ year company anniversaries.

It was a privilege to select one’s own gift.

Over the years, Dad selected a company tie tack, a few engraved mugs, a pen/pencil set, and a silver plated money clip. Towards the end of his 38 year tenure, he was bestowed a wood and crystal clock, then a fancy watch. Finally, his parting gift of retirement was a silver engraved water pitcher. We have come a very long way from the annual chicken/parsleyed rice, pea lunch and generic gifts.


Our workforce has changed dramatically over the last 30 years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it may have changed even more than you know.

  • Women represented 34% of the workforce in 1950, in 2050 this number is likely to be 48%
  • The 55+ working group was 13% in 2000, it is predicted to increase to 19% by 2050
  • Greater ethnic diversity in the workforce

Given our changing workforce, what was a successful approach years ago does not apply in effectively retaining employees. Gender and ethnic diversity demands a deeper appreciation and understanding of what motivates our teams to stay with a company long term. Being proactive employees today means that we need to address life issues that are far more complex and challenging. Likewise balancing younger people within work alongside longer employment even adds more layers of necessary creativity and flexibility.

Millennials VS All Others

Psychology Today tells us that the questions remain strong about Millennials compared to all other generations of workers.

  1. How do you successfully address employee retention strategies to meet the needs of this changing workforce?
  2. What motivates employees to stay employed within one company?

What successfully floats one employee’s boat, does not necessarily meet the needs of others. Fortunately, studies addressed the motivators for the baby boomers may not work any more for the incoming Millennials vs. all other groups. Employee retention strategies have to be modified for different employees.

Key findings from a Deloitte Study point to several key factors that are important for all employee retention strategies. Money and advancement may still be a key factor in your employee retention.

  • 44 percent of employees — ready to resign — would stay for additional bonuses and financial incentives
  • 42 percent would like a promotion or other job advancement
  • 41 percent would remain for a raise in base pay

The Generation Divide

As you are molding your employee retention strategies it is crucial to keep in mind what each generation holds dear.

Middle Aged & Baby Boomers

Bonuses and added compensation are the most influential factors in middle-aged baby boomers' decision whether to remain with a company. Money talks to this group and remains a driving force, a tangible and clear solution.


The most influential factors are opportunities for promotion, job advancement, and additional compensation does matter. Millennials are seeking recognition and the need to grow and know that their contributions are valued. This may take the form of both direct engagement as well as increased responsibilities and compensation. Given the high level of technological fluency, there are any number of creative approaches to addressing your young talent.

Common Ground

  • Flexible work arrangements ranked high in importance to all employees.
  • A flexible work environment would keep 26 percent of those surveyed from leaving their current job
  • This would keep 45 percent of older employees, working beyond normal retirement

Findings into Action

The first action that you need to take is to understand that your workforce is not all the same, different programs will motivate and satisfy different employees. Try to offer social media outlets for your Millennials, they thrive on more contemporary channels

Definitely offer flexible work arrangements, as they appeal to all age groups. Some examples of Appealing flexibility are: working from home, job sharing and flex time. This management move also acknowledges a more diverse workforce that will address: cultural, religious, and changing family units.

Career ladders and opportunity for advancement are always a huge plus.

Remember that your company/organization/workforce is completely different. Make sure that you and your leadership team think outside the lines when addressing your evolving employee retention strategies.