As the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, millennials (those born between 1981-1996) represent more than one in three workers. This makes millennials a powerful generation of workers, with skills that are highly in demand. And while this generation is increasing in size, influence, and power within the workplace, many employers claim that it is difficult to recruit and retain next gen talent.
The most recent and in-depth research about keeping millennials happy in the workplace shows that what they want from work might not be so different than any other generation. To assist in sorting through the noise, here are seven practical ways you can shape your business to make it both millennial-attractive and millennial-friendly:
1. Strengthen the Company’s Digital Presence
The first thing prospective millennial employees will do before an interview is Google the company, and they expect digital relevancy. If your business is lacking a digital presence, millennials might be wary about applying as it may imply that the business is behind the times or unwilling to evolve.
Organizations spend a great deal of time and resources strategizing how to engage clients and consumers online, but it is important for them to appeal to prospective employees as well so they have a strong understanding of your company’s mission and culture.
2. Implement Customized Recruitment & Development Strategies
Another common theme that has emerged from recent studies is a millennial’s desire for customization in all areas of their lives – including the workplace. They want the ability to customize compensation and benefit plans to fit their lifestyle. Additionally, millennials expect individualized training and development plans and are not receptive to a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
A good way for companies to meet the desire for customization is to offer an array of lifestyle benefits. These could include wellness plans, pet insurance, flexible work days, on-site cafeterias, and backup child care options. It is also important for companies to be flexible and creative with compensation and benefit packages when recruiting millennials in high-demand industries such as healthcare and technology.
Millennials also want personalized training and development plans with frequent feedback. The one-way path to climbing the corporate ladder does not appeal to millennials. They want opportunities to try different things and, since they will likely have multiple careers throughout their lifetime, they want to pave their own way and feel like their unique skill set is being developed.
3. Maintain Transparency
Millennials grew up with technology, which has created a culture of transparency. In a day when one tweet can take down an entire brand, millennials expect the company they work for to be upfront. In the information age, it’s hard enough for companies to hide things from the consumer, let alone their own employees.
Even if it’s unintentional, announcing decisions without any explanation might leave this generation uneasy. Studies show that millennials are more engaged and committed when management shares why decisions are made. Keeping an open atmosphere will foster trust and community among your millennial employees. They want to know how the company keeps the lights on to help them determine if they want to stay for the long haul.
4. Ditch the Hierarchy
If your company has a traditional hierarchy, consider how to flatten your organizational structure or, at least, ensure that the millennials in your company feel they have a voice. Management should highlight their accomplishments and let them know that their insight is valued, which will motivate them to go above and beyond for your business.
According to Forbes, millennials don’t want to wait three to five years for a promotion, contrary to their baby boomer coworkers. Offer training and visible step-by-step progress, allowing them to better understand the future of their career.
If millennials see people getting promoted over others based on longevity with the company, instead of performance, it could discourage them. At the very least, sit down with your millennial employees and help them better understand their overall career trajectory.
5. Rethink Mentorship
One staple of the millennial generation is that they want feedback, but it might be time to consider a different approach to the traditional mentor and mentee relationship. Millennials can learn just as much from long-term employees as your business can learn from them.
Some refer to this concept as reverse mentoring, which means a millennial is matched with a more senior worker. Many organizations have implemented untraditional mentor programs like these and have found that management can equally benefit from this strategy, as they’ll learn how to effectively utilize technology to leverage the company’s brand. Millennial employees are great resources to better understand how the business can strengthen its presence in the social media and digital space.
6. Engage Millennials through a Greater Cause
For many organizations, the challenge is more effectively engaging millennial employees, which goes beyond challenging them through their work. It means going as far as understanding their passions, interests, and ideas as part of their identity—not just at home or with friends, but also at the office. Companies should look to establish service initiatives and volunteer opportunities for millennial employees—not only to be a socially responsible company, but also to foster a service oriented culture that can align with the employees’ passions and help to retain millennial employees and managers.
One way that employers can tap into these interests during the recruiting process is crafting job postings that focus on the value of work and the role’s importance to the organization. Another key way that companies have related to millennials is by integrating them into the organization’s cause and service-related issues and projects, which resonate well with the generation.
7. Create a Deep Connection to the Brand
Millennials are a great resource to strengthen your brand, but only if they believe in the overall message of the company. Having happy millennials in the workplace can lead to a boost in your company’s digital presence and its reputation.
Millennials are a generation of storytellers and they’ll happily amplify the great things your business is doing through their own social media platforms if they believe in the company’s mission. Give your millennial employees a reason to share what your business is doing to help you naturally boost your company’s social presence.
It’s important to remember that there are just as many myths out there as there are facts about millennial workers. Ultimately, all employees want the same thing – a clear picture of where the organization is headed and how their development fits into that picture, recognition for efforts and accomplishments, and a mission statement they can support.