Attracting and Retaining Millennials

As Millennials continue to enter the workforce, grow into management roles, and even create their businesses, it is crucial for employers to understand what attracts, motivates, and engages this unique generation.

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By Sima Vasa

We have all heard and read about the growing importance of Millennials.  Millennials are a generation that has seen rapid change in socialization via technology.  A generation that carries more debt earlier than past generations. A generation that has had to grow up quickly in terms of understanding the preciousness of life due to unrest in the world.

These factors, along with other key characteristics (e.g. more ethnically diverse, more open, more tolerant, more connected, and less trusting), shape their attitudes, behaviors and preferences. As Millennials continue to enter the workforce, grow into management roles, and even create their businesses, it is crucial for employers to understand what attracts, motivates, and engages this unique generation.

There are some common myths and truths that are being used to describe Millennials in the workforce.  As employers, we must determine what is the truth versus fiction.  Below are perspectives and considerations utilizing secondary research and primary research collected from the Millennial Mix Advisory Panel.

  • Enable influence

Millennials not only want their voices heard but want to know that their opinions are factored into the decision making process.  As a result, it is important to create opportunities for people to feel comfortable and able to share thoughts and opinions regardless of age or experience.

  • Create entrepreneurial opportunities

Millennials were asked to name a company or organization they would want to work for and not surprisingly, entertainment and technology companies with high growth rose to the top, such as Google, Disney, Apple, Netflix, and Microsoft.  Even more intriguing was that after that group of companies, Millennials mentioned non-profit organizations or creating their own business.   This speaks to two critical points to consider: culture and entrepreneurship.  Organizations have to consider the non-tangible aspects of culture that attract Millennials such as work hours, organizational collaboration, the impact of their work on the larger business, etc.  In addition, it is crucial to create opportunities that allow Millennials to satiate their entrepreneurial spirit without much micro-management.

  • Create blended groups

As Gen Xers or Baby Boomers, many of us tend to work with a lens of hierarchy and experience when engaging with Millennials.   These are all valid constructs but… Millennials prefer to work WITH you and not necessarily in the command and control of you.   It is important for other generations to understand this and stop living in the past of “what was” and “what we used to do” and dive headfirst into learning new things and sharing experiences that combine those of with the new perspectives of Millennials.

  • Provide regular feedback

It is important to frequently provide feedback and salary increases.  This is the reality of what this generation requires.  We can attribute it to social media or helicopter parenting, but either way, we as employers have to ensure that Millennials within our organization do not feel like just another cog in the wheel but rather an asset that loves to learn and understand how they are doing and how they fit in to the higher objectives of the organization.

  • Be authentic

Many Millennials do not trust large faceless organizations.  They want the truth and transparency about the realities of an organization.  Millennials value this deeply and as result if you create a culture of authenticity you will likely gain the loyalty of Millennials.  In fact, when asked ”If you were to like a company and your job, how long would you expect to stay?”  More than 50% indicated they would stay for 3 years or more!

  • Create stable, low-stress environment for consistent learning

Millennials want to evolve.  They do not want to “feel stuck” as they perceive the position of previous generations.  As a result, they value consistent learning and low stress environments to evolve in their .  Low stress environments are often cited as environments that promote teamwork, collaboration and ultimately create a playful, fun approach to solving business problems.

  • Respect the concept of a life

Generally, Millennials do not want to be chained to their desk or work standard hours. In fact, when asked if they agree or disagree to the statement “The person who gets in early and stays late is probably getting more work done,” 42% of the Millennials disagreed with the statement.  This disagreement speaks to two things: Millennials want a life outside of work filled with wonderful experiences, and being in the office does not necessarily mean getting work done. Millennials understand that just as much work can be done with flexible hours, and are more focused on getting the job done than logging office hours.

These are just a few considerations for employers to integrate into their perspectives.   It is imperative for us to embrace and work collaboratively with the Millennial generation as they have the drive and ability to solve many of the challenges we face in the Sample Industry today and tomorrow.

Please join the discussion at Samplecon, as I moderate a panel comprised of Millennials from across our industry.

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One Response to “Attracting and Retaining Millennials”

  1. Ellen Woods says:

    January 22nd, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Millennials, for the most part, are far more mature for their age than past generations. They have also seen dramatic economic swings and have been exposed to a much broader view of the world. They are the first generation to have interactive technology from birth and the first generation to have teachers that used that technology for first hand exposure to foreign cultures.

    Unlike previous generations, they have grown up adapting technology as a personal tool and use it as an extension of their presence. That is quite different from older generations that see it as a communications tool.

    They have also grown up using tools that consolidate information that used to take weeks and month to analyze. They simply process faster than most older adults so its no surprise they see themselves as equals.

    The biggest difference though is that they are less prone to making assumptions because they have access to information that validates in real time and in many cases, they have had direct cultural experience that creates a more circumspect analysis.

    Yet, they are willing to listen to experience. That requires that older workers have both the confidence and poise to realize the value of these workers.

    It’s hard to accept that someone half your age knows more than you do and handles situations just as well or better. It’s also a bit unnerving to know how much they value transparency and how easy it is for them to apply it. They have an advantage though, because they have grown up in a “flat” economy, not a hierarchical one. That’s a good thing.

    The world is changing and the focus on natural resource limitations has changed economic drivers from consumption to absorption and renewal. Information is a currency (at least for now) and sustainability is not only a consideration, it is a driver.

    I like this new world and the fact that millennials want more than a corporate job and a paycheck.

    Corporate cultures change slowly but baby boomers are now being challenged and letting go of hierarchy is the smart play. There is no doubt that smaller organizations will see the most growth because they are the most agile. We just all need to think about the benefits of agile thinking and using the best resources for that goal.

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