By Lisa Michaels
It’s no secret that many business owners are puzzled over the question of how to attract and retain Millennials as a workforce. This group of people has suffered a negative reputation in the media and among business owners for acting “entitled,” “selfish,” and “lazy.” However, business owners need to realize that Millennials aren’t as hard to woo as you think they are, and they’re now the largest group in the workforce.
It is critical for a business to attract Millennials, and according to Jason Dorsey, a Millennial researcher at the Center for Generational Kinetics, most perks Millennials want are inexpensive or free. So what perks can your company offer to attract and retain this new generation of employees?
1. Constant Feedback and Encouragement
This is one of those things employers complain about a lot, because most don’t like having an employee who constantly needs to be told he or she is doing well. But instead, see it positively: Millennial workers want to constantly be doing a good job. Giving that feedback will encourage them to work harder. And providing the encouragement is easier than employers might think. Maintain regular, open communication by giving your Millennial workers immediate, constructive, and effective feedback. It can be as simple as, “The way you did this was very good, but it’s a little late. Maybe keeping an updated to do list would help you keep things better organized.” Short weekly check-ins might be a good tactic to implement for all of your employees to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Millennials want to be recognized for their contributions within an organization because it gives them a sense of purpose and motivation. Provide acknowledgement and encouragement, and you’ll end up with a loyal hard worker.
2. Personal Growth and Development
Millennials value training and development programs that will help boost their careers. In a PwC survey, 35% of respondents cited growth and educational opportunities as attractive employer perks. Make sure to provide frequent learning and development opportunities for all employees. Abandon outdated training models that include long, dull, and monotonous courses with no interaction. Millennials do tend to have a shorter attention span, so attempt to provide them with information a little at a time. Also, keep communication with them tech-savvy. Mobile devices are their preferred means to access information and communicate, and they also tend to favor emails over phone calls.
3. A Collaborative Work Environment
Millennials generally prefer collaboration to competition. They want to be part of a community with positive team spirit and feel they have a sense of purpose in their work, which is more important to them than a paycheck. Without that feeling, they tend to grow dissatisfied and eventually quit. How can you provide this? Encourage open communication and teamwork among employees. Hold regular and structured meetings, always making sure to keep them dynamic and productive, ensuring all of your employees are equally engaged and attended to. Plan and implement fun events inside and outside of the office. Creating a communal environment will improve employee engagement and reduce costly turnover.
4. Work-Life Integration
According to Cali Williams Yost, “[w]hen Millennials say they want ‘balance,’ they don’t mean work less. They mean work differently and more flexibly. There’s a big difference.” Intelligence Group studies of Millennials reported that 74% want flexible work schedules, and 88% want “work-life integration.”Millennials value autonomy and independence in the workplace, they are great multitaskers, and often desire to work outside the typical 9-5 work schedule. They are a technology-driven generation, maintaining an ongoing connection to their personal and professional contacts. This is a good thing for business owners, as it means Millennials genuinely want to form meaningful connections at work and stay in contact via technology. Ultimately, work-life integration enables them to create their own work-life balance.
5. Pride in Employer Reputation
Millennials are attracted to positions with clear purpose that can make a contribution to the world. Millennials want to feel proud of their employer and they are attracted to brands they admire as consumers. Promote this kind of pride by offering employees easier access to your products and services. Explain and show why what your company does or produces is meaningful.
At the end of it all, there’s still a lot of prejudice against Millennials in the workforce. It’s important for business owners and employers to understand that they are simply products of another era, who are not inherently bad employees, and just need to be reached in a different way. Businesses need to adjust to this emerging generation, as Millennials are beginning, and will continue to reshape the business world.
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. She spends her free time trying out new recipes or reading Scandinavian crime novels.