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How to ... Recruit and retain millennials

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  • | 11:00 a.m. February 10, 2017
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Andy McEntire has some inside knowledge on how to hire and retain millennials — partially because he is one himself.

McEntire owns two businesses and likes that millennials can multitask, are enthusiastic about their work and the community and are tech-savvy.

The workforce of his Lakeland-based film company, for example, is 75% millennials. “They are passionate about filmmaking, and millennials make up the demographic we are looking for,” says McEntire, owner of Indie Atlantic Films.

Millennials recently surpassed baby boomers as the nation's largest living generation, so knowing the finer points of hiring and retaining them are key elements for any company's success.

Jay Chastain, president of land development firm Chastain Skillman in Lakeland, says his workforce comprises about 30% millennials, from interns to full-time employees. Some of his best tips on working with the younger generation include having a genuine connection with them, helping them achieve their goals and keeping state-of-the-art technology on hand. Clear objectives and transparency are also important.

“Like with anybody, if you have a close relationship, you have a higher probability of them staying,” says the 35-year-old Chastain, who is the third generation of his family in the land development firm. “Set expectations ahead of time. Make sure what you say happens.”

In many cases, one millennial stereotype — that they crave constant feedback — is true, says Meg Bellamy, director of Catapult Lakeland, a co-working space in downtown Lakeland designed to help young entrepreneurs. “We have restructured our evaluation system throughout the year to incorporate more strategic feedback loops for this demographic,” Bellamy says.

McEntire, who also co-owns Concord Coffee in Lakeland, cautions against coddling millennials too much, or they may flee. Instead, employers need to encourage their young workers. “Pour all you can into them professionally,” Chastain says. “Push them, but push them with the goals they say they want to achieve.”

- Liz Morrisey


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