The Brain Drain

The Brain Drain

In my last blog, I put forward some suggestions on how to recruit millennials to your event business, so you can weather workforce changes and come out on top.

So, what comes next?

Once the celebrations have faded and the induction period has given way to knuckling down, the next phase of working with your millennial staff is even more important: retaining them.

Seen as notoriously fickle and flighty, it may be true that they are aiming at a portfolio career and some go-getters expect to have 15-20 jobs in a lifetime.

It’s your job though to get the best out of them and to add value to your business, and their career as long as they’re there.

“…They want appreciation and recognition so they can develop in the now. Not every six or 12 months.…”

The old ‘lifer’ approach is long gone. It’s not simply a question of them fitting in with your business, but how do you fit into their lives?

What approaches can you adopt, to make things millennial-friendly, keep your recruitment costs down, and events thriving?

Onboard, Not on Bored

Have no doubts, millennials want the same career benefits as any other generation.

They want to grow (quickly), learn (fast) and get paid (more) incrementally, rather than waiting A WHOLE YEAR.

They want to be engaged and satisfied. The way they’ll want to achieve it is what is changing, and is what you, the business leader or HR team needs to know.

We are Family 

Their sense of community stretches to the workplace. Do they want a boss or somebody that will guide them? They want mentoring, career counselling (after all, you’re the evidence of success), constant feedback and a two-way communication channel.

You don’t literally have to have your door open all day but make it plain that you and your management team share the companies values with them, and are there for them.

Feedback, on track

Continual feedback may seem needy but it’s a more empathetic way to nurture their talent and creativity. They want appreciation and recognition so they can develop in the now. Not every six or 12 months.

Initiate a way to celebrate and share achievements that meet or exceed your values through the company.

Conduct regular mini-surveys and use the rich information to focus on employees’ individual strengths and personality instead of slotting them into a preconceived box.

Encourage staff to encourage others. You could even gamify hitting targets to make it, well, more fun. Loyalty starts with support, encouragement and training for leadership opportunities as soon as they arrive.

See me. Hear me.

Everybody will have ideas and life experience beyond their role. Especially millennials. Share ideas & communications on platforms like Slack for speed and transparency.

Value their ideas and ask them to take on different tasks over time, to bring variety and excitement into their daily lives. Who wants predictable routine? Not them.

On top of core duties, why not distribute nano-projects throughout the company? “We’ve hit a sponsorship milestone, so I need to book an evening reception venue in Berlin – who can help with the brief and sourcing options, and maybe a site visit!?”

Or set up a group of talent to review and present back the best of competitor activities, and some left-field opportunities for growth to the management team each month?

It’ll stretch them, get them thinking, and give the business fantastic intel.

Tech Advantage of What’s on Offer

You can customise and calibrate their communication, direction and feedback with their help. The benefits of choosing the right platforms will help streamline processes across the business and keep your millennial staff engaged.

Words aren’t enough though. Analytics, cold, hard data and a clutch of tech platforms can transform how HR keeps track of their engagement, communication and progression. Back up your chats with distinct measurables.

Data is powerful at every level and used right means you can leverage insights into what they do, to personalise benefit packages.

Check Out Our Values Range

Company rhetoric is fine, but if you’re not demonstrating them? Your new recruit will lose faith, or worse, walk if you’re contradicting those carefully chosen ideals. If you talk about social responsibility, commit to and shout about the projects.

Ask for their advice and help on how to tailor them for company marketing, or pitch in their own ideas on the ‘bigger picture’.

“…set up a group of talent to review and present the best of competitor activities, and opportunities for growth to the management team each month.…”

Make your value based recruiting (see previous blog here) stick, and get your top talent to help you do it – get them having informal meetings with candidates in the recruitment process and make it their responsibility to hire people who match up and will thrive.

Crystal Clear

Transparency. They want jargon-free, no-messing commitments from you on expectations, feedback, progression, inclusivity, diversity… all the usual.

With their lives being permanently switched on and focused in many areas, empower them with a variety of assignments they can own, or bring their own unique take to.

They can influence cultural change, so flexibility (work from home, family leave, childcare) and work/life balance will show that it’s about getting the work done, not just hours worked.

They share with each other. Pay-rises. Open conversations about everything. They also expect it from leaders. Don’t forget the bad stuff too. Transparency builds loyalty, like any brand would do.

This time it’s personal

An integral part of retention are the opportunities and training you can offer in the role to develop.

We’ll be talking more about that in the next blog, but platforms like Futurelearn, sending them to conferences and attending cultural events can have a big impact. Set them up for success and you should get it.

Get in Touch 

Considering Millennials as an essential part of the events industry is paramount for survival, but how easy would it be to change business practice or your own approach as an HR Manager, MD or Event Manager?

If my recruitment or retention blogs have struck a chord, please get in touch to share your views or start a conversation.

Thanks for reading. I’m Sam North, the only Executive Coach who purely serves the UK event industry.

I can help you develop your career and adopt new approaches. I also consult with exhibition and conference organisers to help improve their events.


  • Shorten goal achievement times. Engage quickly, frequently and keep moving at pace. You could even gamify targets throughout the company and use the valuable data to drive goals setting and feedback.
  • Get your values right and live them. Give them a chance to shape your CSR, and bring tech and ideas on board
  • Offer mentoring or career counselling. You can be an old-school role model in an evolving workforce. Evidence your successes and failures
  • Mix it up. Enthuse and stretch your talent by engaging them in nano-projects to prepare them for leadership and complement their existing skills
  • Offer flexibility and be transparent. Make policies clear. Have a personal dialogue about their work/life needs
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