Watch Out, Workforce: Millennials are Here!

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Admire or admonish them, much has been written about the Millennial generation: individuals now ages 18 to 34. They make up your entry-level and next-generation workforce and, according to a recent study by Pew Research, Millennials will overtake Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation.

In our experience helping companies recruit and hire top talent, including developing strategies for hiring Millennials, we find attraction, retention and cultivating Millennials in the workplace boils down to three key factors.

1. Millennials want to make a difference.

A recent article in the Washington Post featured a young man in his mid-20s whose career strategy is to change jobs every year. If you read this at face value, it feeds into many common stereotypes circulating about Millennials.

But look deeper and you’ll discover this essential truth: Millennials want, and need, to make a difference.

Of course, many Millennials are hired into entry-level jobs that don’t come with built-in leadership opportunities. Smart employers will look for ways to build these opportunities into the company culture and employment experience. For example:

  • Put them in charge. You probably won’t turn over your entire marketing strategy to an entry-level employee, but there are plenty of opportunities for Millennials to be in charge. Ask them to lead important projects or initiatives, even smaller ones. This signals your trust and confidence in their abilities.
  • Involve them in strategy. Involve Millennials in company-wide initiatives. Ask them to help solve a problem, step back and see what creative ideas arise that you may never have thought of yourself.
  • Invest in their skills. Give employees ongoing opportunities to build new skills and try new ways of working.
  • Connect them with opportunities to give back. Involve Millennial employees as program leaders in community service initiatives. Offer time off for employees to do meaningful volunteer work and recognize and reward those who are engaging with the community regularly.

2. Millennials want, need and expect flexibility.

Many older employees remember a time when work was conducted between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and “life” was everything else. They remember a time when they weren’t tethered to technology 24/7.

Younger professionals, however, never had that experience. Technology has always been part of their world and they’ve mastered the art of successfully integrating their professional and personal life. As a result, Millennials seek out employers who support this balance.

Stay competitive with these tips:

  • Offer flexible schedules. Give clear goals and ongoing feedback and then set them loose. Instead of keeping Millennials tied to their desk or worrying about how and where they do their work, focus on the quality of work that’s done.
  • Reward employees in ways besides money. Offer time off as a perk for a job well done. Millennials are less motivated by money than you might think.

3. Millennials seek community.

Millennials prefer to work collaboratively and want feedback, perhaps more so than any other demographic. Here are some ways to create a more collaborative culture:

  • Encourage group projects. Where possible, facilitate and encourage opportunities for group work, discussion and support among employees.
  • Establish open, unstructured spaces for collaboration. An open-concept office may not be right choice for everyone, but designating a “community space” within an office can bolster community and collaboration.
  • Create cohort groups of older and younger employees. Not only will stronger relationships develop, but these groups will understand each other—and work better together.

These three key values may seem simple, but they’re essential for creating the kind of workplace young employees seek. If you introduce these efforts, you’ll not only attract and retain this essential population—All your employees will benefit, too!