Diversity in Practice: A Millennial’s Perspective on Workplace Attraction and Retention

3 minute read

By: Justice Ndayegamiye, CIA

Employers often ask themselves what the best strategy is for recruiting and retaining top talent—particularly inasmuch as it pertains to the millennial cohort. Perhaps even more compelling is how puzzling employers find the millennial generation—my generation. Dominating the millennial debate are questions such as: what do millennials want? How do we attract them? And why won’t they stay? I can’t tell you enough how often I’ve been asked these questions and despite my best efforts to explain, it doesn’t seem like anyone is listening. Allow me, once and for all, to shed a little light on what millennials truly want in their pursuit for employment.

For starters, most of us consider diversity and inclusion as the defining attributes of an employer of choice. But hold on, our definition of diversity and inclusion in the workplace is slightly different from that of our predecessors. Boomers and gen-Xers view diversity in terms of fairness and protection to all and inclusion as the intermingling of persons from different demographics—i.e. race, gender, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation—into the workplace. While we generally agree with this viewpoint, we find it too narrow a view to fully encapsulate the ideals of diversity and inclusion. Diversity should also encompass the blending of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives; and inclusion should build onto that notion by providing a collaborative environment that values open participation from individuals with different ideas and perspectives. In short, we want to be a part of a multidisciplinary team that helps us to succeed and engages us to collaborate and make meaningful contributions.

Next, give us challenging work and allow us the opportunity to grow and develop. It is astounding to me how employers go through extraneous lengths to recruit top talent but then underutilize those they have hired. You’ve hired us for our skills so let us use them; and for the love of god help us continue to grow and develop. Give us the tools and the support we need for our developmental goals otherwise we will move on.

As well, give us a little room to manoeuvre by empowering us. We want our contributions to be both meaningful and impactful. And we get it, we may be unseasoned, but show us a little faith by giving us a modicum of autonomy. After all, you’ve trusted enough to hire us and we’ve trusted you in return.

Finally, we want to be encouraged. More precisely, we want to play an active role vis-à-vis management and strategic initiatives. While you’re at it, let us express ourselves as well. You’ve hired us for our free-flow and unrestricted ways of thinking so give us a safe environment where our voices can be heard and our ideas considered. This kind of experience and exposure is invaluable to us; but without it, how are we supposed to learn?

In essence, we just want to feel valued and respected. But if you aren’t certain how to do that, then do yourself a favour and just ask us.

About the author

Institute on Governance

Institute on Governance

Founded in 1990, the Institute on Governance (IOG) is an independent, Canada-based, not-for-profit public interest institution with its head office in Ottawa and an office in Toronto. Our mission is ‘advancing better governance in the public interest,’ which we accomplish by exploring, developing and promoting the principles, standards and practices which underlie good governance in the public sphere, both in Canada and abroad.

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