Workshop held on retaining Millennial & Gen Z employees in Kingsport

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL)- How can local businesses keep their youngest workers engaged and happy?

On Tuesday the Kingsport Chamber hosted a Dale Carnegie workshop, “Creating Cultures that Engage and Retain Millennials and Generation Z.”

Workshop participants learned the statistics behind what Millennials and Gen Z workers want in an employer

A group of local business leaders participated in a two-hour session on how to better understand Millennial and Gen Z employees.

“We want Kingsport to thrive, and in order to do that we need all generations. This is one that we need to learn how to keep here,” said Dana McMurray, director of membership events for the Kingsport Chamber.

“How can you keep [Millennials] engaged, and how can you keep them retained, and also hone in on their full potential?” said Rachel Bacon, account manger for Dale Carnegie Training of Tennessee.

The group defines Millennials as those born between 1977 and 1995. Gen Z is those born 1996 and after. 

This workshop comes as the region is challenged with declining workforce populations. In May, News Channel 11 reported that the Kingsport and Bristol areas lost about six percent of the workforce population between 2010 and 2018.

SEE ALSO: Population decline is putting the Tri-Cities at a disadvantage for business recruitment, experts say

“In order to keep up with the other towns, we need to keep that generation here, working,” said McMurray.

The workshop allowed business leaders to discuss some of the challenges they have in understanding young professionals.

“We’re set in our ways, and they’re all about change,” said workshop participant Nichole Stoops to the group.

“We’re trying to find a great skill set that they have, and put them in a workplace that they’re interested in,” said Stoops, a sales manager for Staff Pro staffing services. “So the more that I understand them and understand their thought process, the better we do at that.”

Local business representatives participate in a group activity at Tuesday’s workshop

Some common perceptions – or rather, misconceptions – about Millennials were addressed.

“One thing that we’ve noticed is Millennials want to learn,” Bacon said. “Thirty percent of Millennials say they lack needed training, and it’s impacting their engagement in a negative way.”

Other big takeaways for business leaders? Positive affirmation is essential for young employee’s self confidence.

Additionally, managers are better off asking questions, rather than giving direct orders – encouraging young workers to set goals for themselves.

And it’s not all about the salary. The number one factor that excites Gen Z to apply for a job?

“Forty-seven percent of Gen Z want a fun work environment. It’s not about the paycheck. It’s going back to that culture, right?” Bacon said.

The Dale Carnegie group plans to present more workshops in the Tri-Cities in the near future.

“If we just sit there and think about, ‘Oh, those Millennials, I just don’t know what to do about them.’ But no. We can actually connect with them,” Bacon said. “Because they have great ideas. They are full of potential.”

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