Millennials, the on-demand, digital generation with an apparently insatiable appetite for instant gratification have long been thought of as serial job hoppers. They want more money, more responsibility and important sounding job titles… like five minutes ago. This is what most employers think, but recent research by the Resolution Foundation, has challenged these perspectives.
For example, millennials are not as transient as one might think. They are actually twice as likely to stay put in a job than those born ten years previously, opting for job security. However, Gallup research shows that millennial turnover as a result of poor employee engagement costs the US economy $30.5 billion per year. So the real question is not how companies can retain their millennial workforce, but how they can keep them better motivated.
Although places like Google and Facebook have pioneered workspaces with nap pods, on-site catered lunches and all sorts of other creative uses of space, there is no evidence to show that millennials need these any more than anyone else, or that these have increased engagement. Indeed, the two most important things to millennials are a solid salary and opportunities for promotion – just like Baby Boomers and Gen X. However, millennials appear to crave a more inclusive work ethos that they can believe in and actively promote than previous generations.
So how can companies better engage their millennial workforce?
Give millennials a company culture they can believe in
One of the best ways for employers to really connect with their millennials is by clearly communicating their company vision and mission, creating a sense of purpose and inviting them to be a part of it. Millennials don’t want to just “clock in and clock out”, they want to make their own unique mark on the future of the company. They want to devote their loyalty, creativity, hard work, and time to the organization. Once onboard with your company values, millennials can be your most prolific advocates.
Create great workforce experiences
People become more motivated, engaged and are more likely to contribute if they feel that they are being heard – that their voice and the work they are doing matters.
Provide continuous feedback, encouragement and recognition to your millennials. Open up the lines of communication where you can provide constructive feedback and they can voice ideas and issues to management openly and without hesitation. Having been weaned on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, they are accustomed to instant communication. Waiting six months until their performance review to feed back on a project they did three months ago will not suffice.
In the 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey, 66% of those surveyed said they appreciated straight-talking language from their business leaders. The survey also revealed that organizations taking an inclusive approach, rather than an authoritarian/ rules-based approach to management, are less likely to lose millennials.
Look at benefits through their eyes
Millennials view benefits in a slightly different way to previous generations. Well-being – both physical and mental – are important to them and goes beyond just the usual private health care packages. Yoga classes at lunchtime, workplace counseling, mentoring programs, team-bonding events, chill-out areas and emotional support are just a few examples of well-being benefits that millennials are coming to enjoy and expect.
And of course flexible working remains a strong draw for millennials. Deloitte reports significant expansion in the number of millennials able to work from locations other than their employer’s primary site in its latest survey – 64% compared to 43% in 2016 – and 69% of millennials confirmed they have flexibility around choosing their start and finish times.
Learning and development is also huge for millennials. They are extremely focused on career growth and advancing their individual skills. Show young employees that you understand their desire to become better performers by creating autonomous and social learning, as well as more formal and personalized training that reflects and evolves with their unique roles—not just blanket content that serves the whole business.
Strike a chord with your CSR
Millennials are the generation that want to make a difference. They are much more socially conscious than their parents were and this extends far beyond environmentalism. It permeates every part of their life from what they wear, eat, buy, invest in and where they work. A National Society of High School Scholars survey in 2016 found that 46.6% of millennials listed corporate social responsibility as a factor in choosing an employer. It would be foolish for companies to dismiss this. Allowing your employees to get involved in community service once a month, or supporting a charity for which employees can raise money for or volunteer at will make a significant difference to their levels of engagement.
So while it turns out that this tech-savvy, civic-minded generation is not as promiscuous when it comes to jobs as one once thought, in order to harness their talent, companies need to think like millennials, providing an ethos that they can really believe in and a culture they want to be a part of. Only then will companies truly tap into the vast potential of their millennial workforce.
Find out what HR leaders think of the multi-generational workforce in our latest research report – 17-70 – Meeting the challenges and Opportunities of Today’s New Multi-Generational Workforce.