By 2020, Millennials (how people born from 1984-on are called) will make up 50% of the workforce. To successfully attract, retain and work with this new professional group we need to understand the unique ways in which Millennials see their world.
According to the Harvard Business Review, in order of importance, Millennials want:
1) Their work to be meaningful
2) To help causes they believe through their work
3) To interact with nice and interesting people
4) To find prestige in the company they work for
5) To keep work-life balance
6) To see progress in their careers
7) To achieve financial security
8) To start their own businesses.
As you can see from the above list, although some of the themes of what the Millennial wants may be similar to past generations, Millennials embrace a much different approach and idealism to their burgeoning careers than generations before them.
Interestingly, the current generation has given Millennials somewhat of a bad name. Millennials have been called lazy and entitled but this can be attributed to their want of a work-life balance. They have been called disloyal but this can be due to their desire to progress in their careers and to be entrepreneurs. And they have been called ‘prima donnas’ but this could be because they have such lofty expectations such as helping the environment or the greater good through their efforts or their desire to work with ‘cool’ and interesting people. Like any emerging generation to the workforce, the previous generation must adapt and embrace a new set of ideals and personalities to continue to thrive. If your company isn’t educating itself on these up and coming candidates and their unique take on the world, it will quickly find itself failing to prosper in an ever-evolving world.
ATTRACTING THE MILLENNIAL
Millennials treasure openness, ethics and social impact. Luckily; these are all very strong morals to have and your company, if it isn’t already, should be openly practicing the measure of some, if not all, of these cultures. When placing ads or searching for new candidates, remember to tout the ethics of your company. Don’t just explain the job qualifications but describe the work place environment, the sense of community, the greater good your company strives for. It doesn’t hurt to always go back to and include your mission statement when searching for new hires. Educate potential Millennial candidates on the why of your company; not just what you need. This will check the box for Millennials searching for a new opportunity who yearn for a sense of greater purpose and social impact to their work.
Also, tout the culture of your company. Millennials yearn to work with interesting and cool people. What makes your work culture unique? Fun? Different? Innovative?
A common thread that travels through all of these new Millennial expectations is change. With all of the unpaid internships, the different and exciting new startups popping up coast to coast, Millennials embrace a sense of change; rather than run from it. With that said, loyalty becomes a thing of the past. No longer are these employees willing to sign up for the long term and localized white picket fence. Instead, Millennials almost expect multiple, different stepping stone jobs on their way to ultimate financial security. Change is to be expected, and as such, embraced. That said, foster a sense of ‘change’ in your own internal workplace. Mix things up. Take people on company retreats. Look to fill new leadership roles from within. Relish the fact that your company should reflect the Millennials viewpoint and always be changing to reflect the times. Stay current and fresh and avoid stagnation at all costs.
The fact that change plays such a key role in Millennial’s lives makes attracting them to your company quite easy (as they are always open to new opportunities) but retaining them becomes a different story…
RETAINING THE MILLENNIAL
A key ingredient to retaining your Millennial hires is to foster diversity within your work environment. Millennials embrace diversity and want to feel like they are part of a new, more liberal and diverse culture. This starts from the top down; remind your leadership to lead with a sense of pride and inspiration, as well as diversity.
Give a sense of purpose to the Millennial’s work, above and beyond that of the work’s general duties: find ways for Millennials to contribute not only to the greater good of the company but to the greater good of the immediate (and greater) environment and society. This may mean going back to your initial mission statement and abiding duly by it.
Keep it positive. Millennials, since they are open to change, are keen to move if they feel a workplace environment is toxic or negative. Again, remind your leadership to keep it positive, day in day out; this should be a mantra for any company, not one just seeking to retain its Millennials. “The pay was OK, the commute couldn’t be shorter, but the toxicity of the environment made my skin crawl,” says Kevin Matthews, a Millennial working at a tech start up in Silicon Beach. Kevin continues, “Even one negative person on a floor can taint the entire team and I felt I needed to look elsewhere, or else succumb to the negative vibes.”
WORKING WITH THE MILLENNIAL
Great, your company has successfully attracted, hired and retained the Millennial. Now, how do you work alongside the new generation seamlessly and successfully? With Communication. Millennials inherently embrace an open and honest sense of communication. Sure, this communication may come in different forms; social media, skype, technology, eye to eye, but if it’s one thing Millennials are good at, it’s communicating. Millennials crave an ongoing, immediate sense of feedback. And keep it real. Honestly is key. Millennials can sniff out negativity and rationalizations. Play to their sense of greater good. Their sense of making today a better tomorrow. Pay it forward. And talk about it.
A “cool’ culture…
Should I get a foosball table to keep Millennials around? A beer keg in the kitchen? In short; no. The free snacks (just make you fat) the open floor plans (phone calls?), the hip art on the walls (eccentric overload), even the foosball and pool tables (anyone working??) won’t keep the Millennial happy. Instead, embrace that corporate culture and cultivate it through adventurous, bonding company retreats. Talk about and offer sound health coverage, solid 401k’s. Figure out how your company fits into society and discuss ways to improve both. Hire coaches to sustain internal career development and even personality enhancement. Hire a diverse and interesting group of people. And most of all; construct a fair pay structure and stick to it.
Attracting, retaining and working with Millennials is sure to be a hot topic as more and more of this emerging generation pours forth into the current workplace. The best way to learn about Millennials is to source, hire and retain them first hand. Each experience will make your company not only more adapt at acquiring this innovative, new workforce, but also more understanding of the emerging world your company will find itself operating under in the next years.