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Millennials need more than good pay to stay

By Lee Mwiti | Published Tue, November 22nd 2016 at 15:18, Updated November 22nd 2016 at 15:49 GMT +3

Youthful employees, otherwise called “millennials” have taken over the work place and changed popular work ethics that have been in place for eons.

This has left employers in a dilemma over how to retain and control this free-thinking young group that cannot easily be pinned down.

Millennials comprise young college graduates between the ages of 18 and 34, who are tech-savvy and too ambitious to stay at one workplace for long.

Their restlessness has forced employers to look for other ways to retain them apart from the normal remuneration.

In the words of financial analyst Aly Khan Sachu, “these are the guys who get paid at the end of the month, quit, and when they go broke, they want their jobs back again.”

Safaricom director of Resources Maria Shipiri explains that her company’s workforce has an average age of 31 years.

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“I must agree we have a challenge when it comes to retaining the millennials. When these young people arrive, we first explain to them about our work environment,” explains Ms Shipiri.

“We tell them the place is exciting, it is fast-paced and we provide them with the tools that they need to work. Also in terms of dress code, we tell them they can work in whatever they feel comfortable in like jeans as long as they deliver,” she adds.


Shipiri advises other HR practitioners to concentrate on other rewards and benefits other than remuneration.

She explains that most of the youthful workforce like at Safaricom is on the verge of parenthood and marriage.

Because of this, says Ms Shipiri, different work incentives that favour a work/family equilibrium are necessary.

“Here at Safaricom, we are trying to review different packages like maternity and paternity leave. In the case of paternity leave, we normally extend two weeks to would-be fathers, but now we intend to prolong it to a month,” she says.

Ms Shipiri also explains that her company is in the process of coming up with policies where the youthful employees who are not in a hurry to get married will be encouraged to adopt children with the company’s support.

She also asserts that housing is a very important aspect of boosting employee morale and corporates need to help their staff afford proper housing.


“We have put in place a mortgage scheme where all our employees save with the company and are facilitated to access affordable mortgages. This is very important, especially for the young employees who are starting out in life,” explains Ms Shipiri.

Leading insurer, UAP Old Mutual Group Head of Human Resources Winnie Pertet also agrees that to keep the youthful employees motivated, the workplace environment has to be created in such a way it balances career and life needs.

She says remuneration is not the only way to keep employees motivated.

“We have come up with HR practices that enable the UAP Old Mutual Group to create an environment that attracts, inspires, develops and retains talent,” says Ms Pertet.

“This sense of purpose and our value-based and customer-centric culture are key elements of instilling trust in staff, which in turn attracts and maintains top talent. It also safeguards our strong reputation as a trusted financial services provider,” she adds.

One of the world’s most respected newspapers, The New York Times, advises that employees want to know that they are appreciated and that if they put in the effort to produce great work, they will be rewarded as such.

A successful reward doesn’t always have to be monetary.

Sometimes, just recognising an individual’s work in front of their peers shows how much value you place on them.

It is all about feeling like a valued member of your organisation, which is one critical way of retaining top talent, especially among the millennials.