As of last year, Millennials represent the largest and most unique generation in the workforce. By 2020, they are expected to make up at least 50% of the entire working population. While employee engagement for each generation is critical, these numbers signify an immediate need for organizations to transform their workspace into a more Millennial-friendly environment.
A recent Gallup poll revealed that getting them in the door is half the battle. With 60% open to new job opportunities at any given time, and turnover costing the economy $30.5 billion each year, it’s equally as critical to invest in sound retention strategies. So, what can you do to ensure you’re attracting & retaining Millennials?
Flexible Workspace Design
Millennials have never known a world without innovation and technology. Accustomed to working on a train, from their couch, or at the office, they’ve learned to seamlessly integrate work with life. Productivity is no longer limited to the hours of 9 to 5. As a result, they expect a workspace design that feels more like home than the office. Quiet spaces, collaboration rooms, and gyms have become the norm, with many organizations going so far as to eliminate assigned desks and/or defined office hours.
Invest in Technology
As mentioned, this generation has grown up in a world filled with emails, texts, and tweets. Technology is not only their past and present, it is their future. Investing in the right technology streamlines processes, increases efficiency, and fosters collaboration. All while removing the barriers of space and time. If your enterprise is hesitant to invest in the latest tech tools, now is the time to step outside of that comfort zone. Top talent attraction and retention is just one of the many benefits.
Get Creative With Your Perks Packages
Remember the days when a standard benefits package was limited to paid vacation time and health insurance? Those days are long gone. Enterprises are having to get creative, offering additional incentives and benefits that appeal to their younger generations.
Keep in mind, the average U.S. employee works a minimum of 45 hours per week. Attached to their devices 24/7, our workforce is, in essence, attached to their job at all times. While our young workforce is comfortable with this reality, maintaining a work/life balance is still a priority. In recognition, organizations are doing what they can to simplify and take interest in employees’ lives. Company perks include paid concierge services, funding employee hobbies, and providing the funds and resources needed for traveling, nursing mothers to ship breast milk home while away.
A recent poll of individuals from Fast Company’s Most Creative People and Most Innovative Companies revealed that a majority of today’s workforce prefers a balance of experiences and things. Whipsaw Inc. offers weekly massages, while New Belgium Brewing Company sends each employee on a one-week trip to Belgium on their fifth anniversary with the company.
”The Millennial generation can be hard to understand. Rather than trying to speak their language, we try to speak their currency: time. This generation loves time off, especially time off with pay. By increasing our paid holidays and PTO policies, we have been able to attract and retain millennials.” – Michele Gonzalez-Pitek, The Unity Council
Generating loyalty requires digging deep and really gaining an understanding of what your future workers’ needs and desires are. Offering a balanced benefits package sends the message that you value their time and contribution to the organization. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider asking them.
Foster a Healthy Environment
Our younger employees have learned from the mistakes of past generations, placing health and wellness high on their priority list. And thought leaders spanning every industry are listening, building state-of-the-art, on-site workout facilities or providing monthly gym stipends and funding healthy food delivery services to their valued employees. Embracing a healthy lifestyle benefits everyone – employee needs are being met, and the cost of unscheduled absenteeism, ranging anywhere from $2,650 to $3,600 annually is reduced.
Encourage Community Service
Additionally, they have an inherent need to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They are dedicated to the daily grind, but are left unfulfilled, unless given the opportunity to engage in community service. Today’s organizations have a unique opportunity to give back on a local level, while recruiting top talent. Consider developing a employee volunteer program or encouraging your workforce to dedicate 21 days each year to humanitarian efforts.
Let Them Be Part of the Conversation
Transparency in the workplace is more important than ever before. Clearly defined expectations should be communicated, as should both successes and failures. Organizational leaders are encouraged to maintain an open-door policy, offering employees an opportunity to ask questions and share feedback in a safe and judgement-free environment. Studies also indicate Millennials have a greater need to feel appreciated than past generations. An open-door policy shows that you value their contribution and opinions.
Always striving to do better, Millennials are drawn to an employer that is as dedicated to them as they are to their work. This young workforce is our future and they look to us for guidance. Develop a mentor program. Be present and break down those professional barriers that often impede growth. Many companies have found success in reverse mentoring programs. This signals a commitment to employee growth and puts everyone on a (somewhat) level playing field. Acknowledging that we all have room to grow and learn is a powerful message.
While Baby Boomers and Generation Xers are more accustomed to working alone, Millennials thrive in collaborative environments. In fact, an astounding 88% prefer collaboration over individual, competitive projects. It’s important to remember that your company will always employ individuals of varying personality types. For long-term success and employee engagement, do not completely abandon traditional productivity strategies. Expand on it instead. Much like the office design, each employee should have access to the people, space, and tools necessary to thrive professionally and personally.
Millennials have long been criticized. Time magazine even labeled them the ”The Me Me Me Generation.” The truth is, they are a hard-working, adaptable generation, trying to make a difference in this world. Personal and professional growth are their top priorities, and they aren’t afraid to fight for what they want. They stand behind their convictions, yet are comfortable enough with themselves to conform when necessary. For them, flexibility is central to long-term growth and success. Seeking out a workplace culture that shares these same values seems only natural.