Millennials, or generation Y as they’ve also been called, are the generation of young people born between 1980 and 2000. At almost 95 million, they are the largest generation ever born in the United States, handily conquering the baby boomer generation’s 80 million strong, and if they aren’t currently working for you, they will be soon. But millennials are a workforce unlike the generations who came before them. Digital natives who seek out meaning in all their endeavors, their job turnover is remarkably high, and since they’ll comprise the majority of the workforce in about 10 years, your business needs to figure out how to get them — and keep them — if you hope to compete in the coming years. From providing work that is meaningful to running a company that gives back, here are some aspects of your workplace culture that may need to shift if you want to have Generation Y on your side.
Millenials are used to experiencing and engaging in an overly personalized technological lifestyle where they and everyone around them is getting and giving almost constant feedback about their lives, work, interests and more. Keeping their attention will require a workplace that engages these characteristics, and also participates in the running commentary. At least once a year, survey your employees about your company’s culture, practices, policies and values. Ask your team how they like to be engaged. Find out if flex time would appeal. See if they need more or fewer performance reviews. Are meetings helpful, or do they find them less than beneficial? While it may seem like a radical break with more traditional work culture where employees do as their told, generation Y wants to be a part of crafting the world they inhabit. Your best bet is to help them do just that.
The days of intense competition between employees may be numbered. The Wall Street Journal recently profiled an Intelligence Group study that found the majority of millennials want a collaborative work environment rather than a competitive one. In fact, most of them would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they loved than $100,000 at a job they hated. Those sorts of values represent an impressive shift away from a competitive work environment. If you’re still expecting employees to battle it out for promotions, clients and cases, you’ll have a hard time appealing to generation Y.
Millennials aren’t as motivated by money or material possessions as the generations of workers who preceded them. Instead, they want to work at a place they believe is positively impacting the world. While it’s impossible to dial all busy work and tedium out of most jobs, it’s still necessary to impart to millennials how that minutiae contributes to the business’s overall success and the greater good. Because not all companies provide products and services that save the rainforest, free Tibet or otherwise promote a cause that your millennial employees may feel strongly about, it’s necessary that your company give back in some way generation Y will find meaningful, believable and adequate. Responsible purchasing, ethical customer service, philanthropic giving, volunteering — all these practices and those like them will help your millennial team feel that the work they do is crafting a better world.
Generation Y already expects benefits and a decent salary when they come to work for you, which means those things won’t give you any sort of edge over another company who is wooing the talent you’re hoping to land. Invest in more unusual benefits to tip the scales in your favor. Offer a game room, a gym membership, completely covered health care, flex time, a casual dress code, a cafe that features fresh, local, farm-raised food. Whatever you can do to stand out in your efforts to cater to them, millennials will notice and appreciate.
Millennials will quit a job they don’t look forward to doing each and every day, which means the more fun and creative you can make your work environment, the better you’ll do at keeping them around. Whether you host regular company picnics, pub crawls or Scrabble tournaments, treat your employees a little bit like they’re college students new to campus and you’re the Student Activities Director. Host interesting and engaging events on a regular basis that enable your employees to really get to know you and one another as people, it will build stronger interpersonal ties that will lead to better retention and increased productivity.
In a recent Deloitte Millennial Survey, researchers found that almost 80 percent of the millennials surveyed were seeking work at companies that made innovation a priority. Interestingly, most also reported that their current jobs didn’t allow them to think as creatively as they wanted to — a disconnect that may somewhat explain why millennials change jobs so frequently. If you want to attract generation Y to your company, you’ll need to emphasize innovation, but if you want to keep them, you’ll have to put your money where your mouth is by letting them be innovative.
Millennials are unlike any group of workers who has come before them, and whether you and your company are ready for the changes they demand, it’s high time to make room for them, and why not? From collaborative work environments to giving back, doing things the millennial way might actually make the world of work a better place.Back to blog list