Quit Whining About Millennials: It’s Not Them, It’s You

A big issue being discussed in the business world right now revolves around Millennials: How do we attract them and when we do, how do we retain them? More often than not, I see business owners struggling to retain this younger generation, claiming that they are hard to manage and unmotivated in the work environment. There is a common misconception that Millennials are lazy, impulsive, and entitled, but in my experience, this poor performance is a reflection of poor management. So, if you are struggling to attract and retain Millennials, don’t point your finger at them and instead reevaluate your approach when it comes to managing them.

Millennials, those between the ages of 24 and 39, now represent the largest generation in the workforce, and it is becoming increasingly important for business owners to learn how to attract and retain these workers. 

At Haneke Design, most of our employees are Millennials. I’ve found that the nature of our work is very attractive to this generation, and there is no shortage of talent. In order to be successful as a designer or developer, you need to be passionate about your work, and in my experience, this is where Millennials truly shine. The old school business thought process is the more you pay someone, the happier and more productive they will be. But today, that is just one component of what workers hope to achieve, and in some cases, it is a very small component. Millennials want to know that their work has meaning and when they do, they work as hard as they can to achieve their goal.

I spoke to a few of our millennial employees to get a better understanding of what it is that they look for in a job/employer. Here are their responses:

“I look for transparency with communication and a chance to learn something almost daily.”

-Jonathon Dorofy, Designer

“As a Millennial developer, being involved in and learning about all aspects of the software engineering process is what I look for the most in a job. Working in an open work environment has made this possible, where everyone can voice their opinion and learn from each other’s experiences.”

-Lucas Claude, Developer

“As a Millennial, when I look for a job, I look for growth opportunities. Being under 25, I am in the process of trying to set a course for my career, and it is important to me that I am continually learning and developing my skill set. I also want the opportunity to genuinely enjoy my work and have good relationships with my co-workers.”

-Mariah Olive, Digital Marketing Manager 

So, what can we as employers do to retain these workers? Open communication is key. Effective communication is essential to building relationships with your employees, which is something millennial workers greatly value. Ask them where they see themselves in 3 years. Take the time to understand their unique interests and goals. Learning these things about them will make them feel like a valued part of the team, and it will allow you to identify their strengths and weaknesses, leading to a much more productive work environment.

About the author / Jody Haneke

Jody Haneke is President and Founder of Haneke Design, a digital product design and development agency in Tampa, Florida. Mr. Haneke was part of the emerging field of user experience design from the day he graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design with a degree in Graphic Design in 1995. Haneke Design has become the go-to resource for companies such as NYSE, Paramount Pictures, Target, and the One World Observatory to launch digital products that amaze and delight end-users.


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