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Empathy Matters in Retaining Millennial Employees

What's the secret to El Union Coffee's success? Lots of millennial staff and a business owner who believes in this generation's ideas

The wealth of online thinkpieces dedicated to the aggressive dissection of the millennial mindset—fickle, self-centered, and overly idealistic, among others—has gradually dissipated over the years, likely because the momentary interest it has incited has been outweighed by success stories, by millennials that have proven the necessity of ingeniousness and self-reliance  in an increasingly competitive environment. This generation has started successful businesses, created remarkable art, and has ushered in so much positive social change that the word millennial has become less a pejorative identifier and more a meaningless label.

El Union Coffee’s Kiddo Cosio saw this potential and used it to create a successful business–one that recognizes its young staff’s humanity while also being able to meet its more pragmatic goals. “Institutionalize practices that help you recognize on a daily basis the value of balance and the humanity of the people who work in your organization,” he says.

As part of an older generation, Cosio testifies to the benefits of striking a balance between empathy and discipline. “That’s something that’s worked for us in El Union.” He believes that the best way to retain a millennial workforce is to be open to their ideas, celebrate their personalities, but also enforce the discipline and structure that are naturally necessary in a business.

“We’ve found that giving people the freedom to be themselves, coupled with the discipline and the order that an organization should naturally bring creates this beautiful dance between your goals that you need to achieve naturally as a business, but also celebrating the humanity of everyone who’s invested in and who’s a stakeholder in the company, including the employees.”

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