It’s so easy to pick on the Millennials -- or the Gen Yers, the Echo Boomers, Gen Next, the Screenagers, the Me Generation, the Trophy Kids. Labels plague the next generation, often with frustrating and self-fulfilling accuracy. And older folks, particularly us crankier and more cynical Gen Xers (now ages mid-30s to late 40s), just seem to love to pick on our younger sibling.
But is picking on Millennials really the best way to approach them? However you feel about them, and whatever you choose to call them, there are nearly 80 million of these young adults born (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) between 1981 and 2001, and they’ll soon represent the biggest chunk of the American workforce. Baby Boomers are retiring and Gen Xers are far fewer in number. So, like it or not, Millennials are your next employees. Given this reality, maybe it’s time we stop judging Millennials, and start engaging them.
What Excites Millennials?
If we can say one thing about Millennials it’s this: they’re looking strategically at opportunities to invest in companies where they can make a difference, and preferably in companies that themselves make a difference. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers were happy to just fill slots in whatever big companies would hire them. Millennials are not.
Data gathered on Millennials from the Intelligence Group also reveals the following:
- 64% say it’s a priority for them to make the world a better place.
- 72% would like to be their own boss. But if they do have to work for a boss, 79% of them would want that boss to serve more as a coach or mentor.
- 88% prefer a collaborative work culture rather than a competitive one.
- 74% want flexible work schedules.
- 88% want “work-life integration,” which isn’t the same as work-life balance, since work and life now blend inextricably.
Adjusting corporate culture to appeal to this group, to assure them that employment would be a mutually-beneficial relationship, is key. But what does that look like?
What Millennials Want
Good pay, flexible scheduling, a collaborative work environment, and mindful and purposeful work top Millennials’ list. Millennials want to align their values and interests to the work they do and, more importantly, who they are working for. So if you’re only focusing on Casual Fridays, Starbucks discounts, and catered lunches, you’re spinning your wheels. Millennials don’t mind wearing flip flops to work, but to really excite them, you need more than superfluous perks. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Provide the opportunity to do real, meaningful work that includes engaging and ongoing training like networking and mentorship programs. Giving Millennials ownership, autonomy, and opportunities to influence positive change within your company are positive cultural shifts you can make while drawing on the talents of your current workforce.
- Offer a competitive compensation package. Fulfilling dreams is great, but Millennials have bills, too, particularly student loan debt. You don’t need to break the bank, but offer a competitive salary that includes health care incentives and real opportunities like global work/travel. If your budget allows, loan repayment and tuition assistance will go a very long way in attracting and keeping this next generation of workers.
- Accommodate flexibility. Millennials don't believe in a 9-to-5 workday and value the ability to work from home or even a coffee shop. If this panics you, take heart. Millennials are versed in technologies that can make telecommuting seamless, and you could potentially save a bundle in real estate costs by avoiding large office spaces.
In days to come we’ll dive deeper into these suggestions and provide strategies for implementing them into your business. For now, begin thinking about what you’re currently doing right to attract and keep Millennials, and how you could take things a step further by changing your potentially traditional corporate structure.
Millennials are changing the corporate landscape. It’s time to stop complaining about their ‘peculiar’ ways and adapt and refine our company cultures to meet them halfway. Doing so will ensure our future success.