“Next Job, Please!” How to Attract/Retain Millennials to Your Workforce
by Alexis Marie
Your significant other asks you to meet them at your favorite hangout spot for lunch. It’s nothing out of the ordinary; in fact, you two meet up there on your lunch breaks at the same time every day. They aren’t especially dressed, and they didn’t do anything particularly special with their hair. To top it off, it’s a sunny day and the Beatles’ Till There Was You is playing in your head on repeat. They see you as you walk through the door, smile, and wave. Things are normal. Which is precisely why you have no idea you’ve walked into a trap, and that they plan to call off your relationship, which they do, as soon as you two order your usual. Ten minutes later, you walk down the street with a confused look on your face, and your Facebook relationship status says Single for the first time in two years. Oh, and it’s raining.
Try as you might in this situation, you just don’t understand where it all went wrong. There were no problems, no misconduct, and you both put in the right amount of time into your relationship and both maneuvered through the cycle of supply and demand with ease…or did you?
Having a workforce comprised of Millennials is a lot like being in a relationship and randomly getting dumped. As a business, you’ve had plenty of employees before and most of your older employees have stuck with you for years. So, why is it that those employees between ages 18 and 34 seem to keep quitting? You’ve ran your company one way for a couple years now, and everything is efficient. When you’re dealing with Millennials, however, not everything you’ve been doing for the last couple years is going to be copacetic. What’s wrong with them? Are they just an indecisive generation not worth your time? While you may be inclined to believe the stereotypes about Millennials were true and that you ended up making the wrong investment, before you completely write Millennials off your company radar, let’s re-evaluate your company first.
Ten years from now, Millennials will have already made up 75% of the global workforce. With 92 million Millennials in the United States, they have easily surpassed both Generation X and Baby Boomers and have become the largest generation in U.S. history. Globally, according to a Viacom survey, there are 2.5 billion Millennials in the world; simply put, they make up one-third of the global population, and will make up half the global workforce by 2020. They are also expected to spend $200 billion dollars annually by 2017 and $10 trillion in their lifetime.
So not only are they steadily becoming the largest generation worldwide, but they are also the largest consumer group with a vast, almost limitless amount of buying power. For a company, making the Millennial generation a target consumer market is very profitable—for obvious reasons. Yet while Millennials may make great target market material, when it comes to the work place, Millennials can get a bad rep. There are many stereotypes surrounding working Millennials—they lack loyalty and are unreliable, they job hop, (really, the list goes on)–and these perceived attributes have negatively impacted the impressions Millennials make on companies. And while it certainly may seem as if these traits are true, especially with the fickle Millennial workforce within your company, each explained behavior has its reason. The one explanation that covers them all: They don’t lack loyalty—you aren’t [properly] inspiring it.
Though it sounds harsh at first glance—there’s a difference between not aspiring any loyalty and simply not appealing to the needs of employees (and Millennials) more efficiently. More specifically, Millennials aren’t as easily pleased as the generations of workforce before them. A job with high pay is no longer the only prerequisite required in order to attract new employees to your company—especially if they happen to be Millennials. Millennials are more socially involved and more socially active than previous generations, and they want to bring those aspects with them into their work space. A company whose culture provides Millennials with interpersonal relationships and work freedom is an environment Millennials feel most comfortable, as these traits Millennials use in their personal, everyday lives.
Granted, not every Millennial cares much for specifics. 28% of Millennials consider high pay when looking at a potential company; however, 88% of Millennials want a collaborative work place and an ability to easily navigate both their work and personal lives interchangeably. If your Millennials are quitting your company to pursue others—they more than likely feel as if that other company’s culture fits their needs more than your own. This doesn’t mean your company structure is bad, —you’re in business, so obviously it’s working for you—but your company structure may be a bit too rigid or outdated. Luckily, Millennials are easy to please.
Millennials do like you, but they’d like you better (and stay with your company longer) if they felt like they were getting something out of it. For Millennials, job fulfillment is very important. They aren’t likely to stick with a job if they don’t like it. In fact, over 50% of Millennials expect to have between two to six (or more) employers. In a report compiled by PwC, over 38% of Millennials currently working are looking for other places of employment and 43% are willing to accept job offers. The primary reason for these numbers is the fact that the current state of the economy has negatively impacted the job expectations of Millennials and their way of living. Over 72% of Millennials feel as if they had to go to into work —that it was a necessity—and as a result had to give up other opportunities in order to provide for themselves. Less than 18% of employed Millennials expect to stay with their current employer. In other terms, a lot of these Millennials are working only because they feel as if they have to in order to provide for their way of living, and if the companies they work for do not appeal to their general interests, Millennials are highly unlikely to stay.
A flexible, social, and innovative environment interests Millennials when it comes to the workplace. So what type of company culture do you offer? What is the work space in your company like? Does your company’s work place allow employees to communicate with others with diversified methods, and are you community and cause oriented? Do you promote entrepreneurship or personal advancement? These are the questions Millennials ask themselves when they sit down in your office for their Friday-at-nine-o’-clock interview; and how you answer them just might determine whether or not those Millennials decide to pursue a career with your company that following Monday.
Does your company have a positive impact on the world around you? Because right now, Millennials are reading your company bio on LinkedIn and trying to find6 the “bigger picture”. Not too sure what we mean? Thirty percent of Millennials find meaningful work to be the most important factor when looking for a job. What’s more meaningful than the work you hired them for? “Cause work”. Millennials like volunteering. 29% of Millennials under 30 describe volunteer work as a “very important obligation”. Millennials are giving to charities and giving back to their communities, and placing more importance on these civic duties than their predecessors, as many 50 and over rate other civic duties higher than volunteering. In a 2015 data infographic by Volunteer in America, 1 in 5 Millennials volunteered just last year. With 62 .8 million Americans currently volunteering, and an estimated $2.1 trillion generated through volunteer work over the last 13 years, volunteer work has a large impact on individuals, and Millennials are not excluded. Incorporating volunteer service work with both charities and local communities into your company culture will set you apart from those competing with you for the Millennial workforce’s attention. Plus, it looks great in that bio they’re reading.
Flexibility: work-life balance, out; work-life integration, in. Yes, there is a difference; while work-life balance is the concept of being able to properly juggle between the two; work-life integration is just that—combining both aspects…at once. This isn’t to say work-life balance is up and out; people still do it, and it still works for some. But nowadays, people don’t clock out and leave the work at the office. 88% of Millennials want work-life integration. With people becoming more dependent on the use of technology and social media becoming a huge marketing frontier, with work-life integration employees (and employers) are in the office texting Mom back about what time they’ll stop by the house for dinner, answering business e-mails and conference calls, and e-mailing clients even when they pull into Mom and Dad’s driveway. It’s a concept that Millennials have easily adapted to, and a concept that should be considered in a workplace for viable reasons.
- Employees aren’t always offered much flexibility with their work schedules; more often than not an employee is willing to sacrifice their personal time in order to work. A study from TeamViewer and Harris Interactive found that 61% of employed workers expect to continue working on their off days and vacation times. Over 38% of employed workers read work-related e-mails while on vacation and over 24% receive business-related text messages. In a separate study on the subject, Gyro and Forbes Insights found that 98% of workers continue working during non-work hours. Only 3% reported they did not. Although work-life balance still works for some people, it does not for most. There’s a blurred line between work life and personal life, and work-life integration helps manage that more efficiently.
- Remote Working: About 3 million Americans work from home without ever having to go to an office and 54% prefer it that way. Over 30 million Americans work from home at least once a week, and this number is expected to increase over 60% by the year 2019. Many employees would rather work from home because it reduces the hassles of commuting and provides more work flexibility.
If you haven’t guessed by now, work flexibility is very important for Millennials, as well as the methods in which they are able to utilize that flexibility. 74% of Millennials look for flexible work options in employment ventures. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should make it optional for your employees to work from home, because work flexibility goes beyond that. Allowing the use of technology and social media in the workplace would offer more freedom and a more relaxed work environment, and as we’ve already stated, Millennials like to be comfortable. Worried about that stereotype, Millennials are addicted to technology, and not so sure of the benefits of integrating a more frequent use of technology into your company? That brings us to this next thing:
“Hi, I’m a young Millennial interested in your company, but I have a question…do you Tech?”
Millennials are best known for being heavily reliant on technology; after all, they’ve been labeled the “tech-savvy generation” for a reason. 1 in 3 Millennials look for social media freedom, device flexibility, and work mobility over salaries when accepting an in-office position at a company. By now, you’re probably thinking back to that stereotype and thinking it’s pretty accurate. But, because of this heavy use of technology among those of the Millennial generation, they are efficient at multitasking. According to a study from The University of North Carolina and the Youth Entrepreneurship Council (—a detailed infograph compiled by the YEC and UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School can be found here—), Millennials often switch between phones, tablets, computers, and TVs at an average of 27 times per hour. In comparison, previous generations, like Generation X, average at only 17 times an hour. And while 27 can be viewed as a rather excessive number, a business can turn that into revenue. Having employees that can successfully navigate through various platforms of communication at once can reduce productivity time and expand your consumer market. Reduced productivity time = more projects/brand development, more projects = more revenue. It can also add to your marketing strategies as a means of social networking and social media marketing.
Because Millennials are the leaders of IT consumerism, promoting the use of technology in your company can positively influence whether or not they become interested (and stay interested) in your company. Concepts like BYOD (“Bring Your Own Device”) and other different methods of communication not only attract Millennials, but can, in turn, benefit your company. (The concept of Bring Your Own Device is that employees bring their own personal devices for company use. This includes cell phones, laptops, tablets, etc. While this concept can attract Millennials to your company, there are also hazards to consider. Always remember to limit the amount of access an employee has to company information when they use their own devices for work use.)
Utilizing various platforms of communication also adds innovation to the work place itself. It promotes working remotely and in nontraditional work spaces, which are some things Millennials consider when looking for employment. A “top secret” tidbit on Millennials? They are mobile, and always on the go.
Millennials: the tech-savvy generation…that can’t sit still. Okay, so maybe this isn’t top secret or unheard of. We’ve recently learned that 1 in 3 Millennials prefer the use of technology and social media in the work place, and they also have a preference for work mobility. For example, 71% of Millennials want to work abroad. Millennials like hands-on interactions and also work diversity. Remember, Millennials who are bored in their work and feel as if there is no fulfillment in their jobs will more often than not pursue other job opportunities. This means that they don’t always want to be sitting behind a desk. In this point, the use of technology is also a key factor. By utilizing different technological platforms in your company, you diversify the way your employees can do work. Using technology makes it possible for your employees to interact and connect with clients—or yourself, for that matter—from virtually anywhere. Literally.
Video-chatting, E-mail correspondence, social media interacting—these and various other communication methods can be implemented by your employees in the work space. But the best thing about it for Millennials is that it means that they don’t only have to be in the office when they work. In addition, 88 percent of Millennials prefer working in social environments. Incorporating more collaborative environments within your company and even an “open office space” environment, or even sending your Millennials out in the “field” are definite ways to attract Millennials to your company. And, engaging their need for social interaction will add to their growing lists of reasons for why they should stick with your company.
As Millennials become the driving force behind business, so do interpersonal relationships and personal growth—two things that Millennials happen to like, a lot. And if you want to attract and retain Millennials to your company, these are two things you might want to think twice about doing without. By now, you’ve probably guessed as much. We’ve already covered the benefits of BYOD, diversifying technological platforms, and nontraditional work spaces. All these things engage the Millennials’ need to be socially involved with others. Interpersonal relationships are very important for Millennials. They want to be able to work on team oriented projects and within outgoing environments. 88 percent of Millennials look for a collaborative work space, remember?
This isn’t the only driver. For Millennials, personal and professional development is also very important. 65% of Millennials consider personal development to be a very important factor with their place of work, and 52% want career progression. Allowing Millennials to take on multiple, personal projects would not only increase creativity and innovation within your company, but it would also help Millennials to feel more engaged in the work environment. This method would also lead into criticism and feedback—contrary to the stereotype that Millennials are easily dissuaded or break easily under criticism, 80% of Millennials prefer real-time feedback rather than monthly evaluations. In addition, 22% of Millennials value training and development as extremely important when in the workplace; so a Millennial isn’t likely to get too upset if you set them aside to critique their work—as long as you offer the pointers and mentorship that causes their work (and knowledge) to improve.
And, yes, it’s true Millennials like praise…but who doesn’t? 25% of Millennials consider feeling a sense of accomplishment to be an important factor when looking at a potential job, so letting your Millennial workforce test their skill sets with their own projects and providing them with opportunities for career advancement will not only entice Millennials to apply for your company positions, but will also give them incentives to stay with your company and work hard at their jobs. This also means providing opportunities for educational advancement. Special programs or incentives offering Millennials aid or training that will further their education are sure ways to catch the eye of the Millennial generation; and if they learn more and become more qualified for positions within your company, doesn’t that benefit everyone?
Don’t throw away your old habits completely—paychecks and company incentives do still matter. We stated earlier that only 28 percent of Millennials consider high pay to be top priority when looking for employment—but in a country with 92 million Millennials and a world with 2.5 billion, that’s still a lot of them. High pay is still a primary driver and an important factor for the Millennial workforce. Although many view the notion of high pay to non-experienced Millennials as a factor of selfishness among the Millennial generation, they aren’t trying to be financially selfish—the cost of living is just higher. Between student loan debts and the down economy, it’s a tough break for Millennials.
There’s over $1 trillion in student loan debts still outstanding within the United States. In addition, Millennials often find themselves struggling to find jobs. Many Millennials—both college graduates and non graduates—suffer from both unemployment and underemployment, bringing into the discussion the phrase, I graduated with a degree I can’t even get a job with. 44% of college graduates in their 20’s are in low-waged jobs. In addition, 40% of unemployed workers are Millennials. Although many Millennials still live at home, 40% of Millennials run their own households, and in an economy where costs are higher, it makes sense that Millennials want paychecks that provide for their needs. So, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with your promise of high wage—those Millennials, they’ll take that—and your company incentives, too. Lifestyle perks, deals, and luxury incentives serve as good motivators; so when a Millennial in your workforce finds they’re in a creative slump, remind them about that bonus that’ll be given to the top five employees at the end of the month. Combined with the relaxed, collaborative, tech diverse environment of your company, that’ll really get them going. ♦
This post was a repost from Unique Creation’s Company blog. Written by UCC Intern, myself. www.uniquecreationscompany.wordpress.com