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How to hang on to Millennial workers, according to Millennials

Brein Haugen of Rasmussen College talks about retaining millennials in the work place during a luncheon Wednesday, June 14, by The Chamber in West Fargo. Dave Wallis / Forum News Service1 / 2
A group fitting into the generational category of millennial workers discuss topics during a Chamber business training luncheon about retaining millennials in the work place Wednesday, June 14, in West Fargo. Dave Wallis / Forum News Service2 / 2

WEST FARGO — About three years ago, Alycia Peter got a job in a different department at Rasmussen College that she said had more room for growth.

But, sitting alone in her new office, she realized she missed her old department where her co-workers were like family. They missed her, too, and persuaded her to come back when a new job opened.

"I did leap at the opportunity to come back and haven't regretted it," she said.

Peter is a member of the millennial generation seen by many employers as especially flighty, never staying very long with any company. Yet she's been with Rasmussen College for eight years.

She joined a panel of other millennials in June at West Fargo's DoubleTree by Hilton hotel to try to demystify their generation for frustrated area employers already dealing with a labor shortage. The event, called "Why Millennials are leaving you," was organized by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.

According to the Chamber, those born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s now make up a majority of the work force. But employers, used to managing earlier generations, have found them difficult to understand.

Tamara Anderson, a Dale Carnegie trainer, and Brein Haugen, a Rasmussen College executive, who hosted the event, suggested this is because millennials are motivated by different things than their seniors.

Haugen, who is working on a doctoral dissertation on millennials in the work force, said that in talking with members of that generation she found they want managers to inspire them and care about who they are, they want to have a voice in the organization, they enjoy working as part of a team and they want flexibility in their jobs.

When the panelists contrasted their current job with their former jobs, several said former employers didn't have these things.

Andrew Young, who is both a millennial and an employer of millennials, said employees at his previous job would get scolded for coming in at 8:02 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. and for leaving before 5 p.m. He said he remembers coming in early and getting done early but felt compelled to kill time until 5 before could leave.

Now, as creative director at Abovo, a marketing and design firm, he encourages employees to work whenever is most efficient for them as long as they meet deadline. He said he stopped by the office one night and found an employee working while watching basketball and drinking beer. This employee had put in eight hours and only wanted to take advantage of cable TV at work, he said, but decided to get some extra work done since he was already there.

Amanda Even, who's worked two years at Red River Valley Dress for Success, said at her previous job she didn't feel like she could talk to the manager. It took her three weeks just to get up the courage to ask for training, she said, because it wasn't something that was done there.

Her current employer, she said, makes her feel like she can always run her "crazy ideas" by her manager because she feels supported.

Like Peter, several said they liked that their co-workers were like a second family.

Young said work and play blend together because the team is so close. "We hang out with each other outside of work and we feel like we hang out with each other inside of work."

Tu-Uyen Tran
Tran is an enterprise reporter with the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began his newspaper career in 1999 as a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, now owned by Forum Communications. He began working for the Forum in September 2014. Tran grew up in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington.
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