Retaining Millennial Talent

Millennial seated behind desktop computer
By Lauren Palmer, BS

In my article in a previous issue of Impact, “Creating a Culture for the Millennial Generation,” I discussed specific steps that managers should take within their organization to attract millennial talent.

Identifying your why, who, and what as an organization will help you and your employees understand your identity as a company. Many companies have these elements in their business plans but still experience employee turnover, lack of engagement, and loss of productivity and satisfaction. The challenges you’re experiencing as a manager can be addressed by being more intentional about retaining your talent. There are many lessons we can learn from examining what the millennial generation values about the workplace.

If you’re experiencing any of the previously mentioned challenges, start by conducting a culture audit. A culture audit can help managers see where the culture isn’t aligning with the organization’s vision, values, and mission. It can help you examine areas that need to be addressed. Here are the steps to conduct a culture audit:

  • Understand your current culture
  • Decide where your organization wants to go—define its strategic direction and vision for the future
  • Motivate the individuals in your organization to change their behavior to create the desired organizational culture
  • Create the plan—develop a picture of your organization’s desired future
  • Examine your mission, vision, and values
    • What are the five most important values for your organization?
    • Are these values compatible with your current culture?1

Once you’ve conducted a culture audit, you can then begin to see how to connect your organization’s current culture to where you want to go in the future. This analysis will help you as you create a specific action plan to communicate to your employees and guide you on how to implement it. Communicating your vision, values, and mission to your employees will help define your culture. Your action plan might look something like this:

  1. Select core values
  2. Update job descriptions for all positions to include core values and customer service expectations
  3. Market core values
  4. Communicate commitment to core values to employees
  5. Emphasize core values, vision, and mission continually
  6. Develop metrics to measure the commitment to core values and the effectiveness of the customer service initiative
  7. Implement core values and customer service employee recognition program2

Let’s look at these action steps in more detail.


Remember that company values can evolve and change as your company grows. It might be time for you to revisit them and evaluate if your company’s values still align with your vision and mission. If it’s time to look at your core values again, this is a great team-building exercise, where all members of your team have an opportunity to voice their opinion and be heard by their managers.


Your human resources manager should update all job descriptions and job postings with the company’s vision, values, and mission. Clearly stating these values will be critical to helping your potential and existing employees understand the company’s identity.


Look for opportunities to display your core values on job postings, equipment, facilities, banners, flyers, mailings, and community outreach experiences. As you do so, you’ll draw people to your company who have similar values. Millennials want to identify with a cause and will support companies that align with their values. They seek to make a positive impact in their communities.3 This technique is being used with much success in all types of services and products.


Communicating with potential and existing employees is essential to employee “buy-in.” The first question we always ask in every single interview is, “What are your core values?” This simple question helps us identify, as an organization, like-minded individuals. We’re able to easily discern an applicant’s character and how they would fit into our organization. You’d be surprised how many applicants really struggle with this question. And this communication doesn’t just happen during the job posting and hiring process, but continually throughout the year, utilizing a combination of regular performance evaluations and staff meetings.


Supervisors and managers should continually look for opportunities to reinforce the company’s vision, values, and mission. At our office, we conduct quarterly performance evaluations with each of our employees rather than doing the standard annual performance evaluations. This effort aligns with all the research about millennials in the workplace. Millennials “expect close relations and frequent feedback from supervisors,”4 so adjusting our performance evaluation schedule was a welcome change. During these evaluations, we review their work ethic over the previous quarter, evaluate how their efforts aligned with the company’s values, and set goals for the upcoming quarter. In the goal-setting portion of this meeting, we look for opportunities to again emphasize our company values to help employees create goals that support who we are while also accomplishing their own professional goals. This entire process is documented by a manager and signed by both parties. We then file it and schedule our next meeting, ensuring that we follow up with the employee in three months to review the goals that they set. We want our employees to know that we’re invested in them personally and professionally.


Develop metrics to measure how your employees are meeting your company values. You might develop a patient survey with questions that relate to your core values or an employee questionnaire where team members can recommend another employee who has exceeded your customer service initiative. These efforts are invaluable in helping management evaluate how you’re meeting your core values.


Develop an employee recognition program based on how your employees are meeting your company’s values and customer service initiatives. Additionally, look for opportunities to give back to your community through volunteering. Many surveys have found that millennials have a “preference to work for companies engaged in the betterment of society.”5 Recognizing your employees’ commitment to your company’s values reinforces your culture.

Many of the ideals that the millennial generation holds are also valued by other generations. As you meet their needs, you’ll in turn meet the needs of employees of all ages. When you’re constantly talking about your values, vision, and mission, employees begin to understand what they can contribute to that cause. Managers who look for opportunities to regularly talk about the company’s values will elevate those around them to perform to a higher standard and will also be able to attract, and retain, the talent that will take you to the next level.

Culture Club

Review “Creating a Culture for the Millennial Generation” if you need assistance determining how to adjust your culture at


1Heathfield SM. You Can Consciously Transform Your Culture. The Balance Careers website. Published June 25, 2019. Accessed December 2, 2019.

2Rouse LA. Creating an Ideal Organizational Culture. Powerpoint presentation. Date unknown.

3Parmelee M. A Generation Disrupted: Highlights from the 2019 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey. Published May 17, 2019. Accessed January 7, 2020.

4Myers KK, Sadaghiani K. Millennials in the workplace: a communication perspective on millennials’ organizational relationships and performance. J Bus Psychol. 2010;25(2):225-238. doi:10.1007/s10869-010-9172-7.

5Winograd M, Hais M. How millennials could upend Wall Street and corporate America. Brookings Institution. Published May 2014. Accessed January 7, 2020.

Lauren Palmer

Lauren Palmer, BS, is the co-owner and office manager of Pacific Physical Therapy in Port Orchard, Washington. She can be reached at

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