Every week new studies come out about millennials in the workplace, and with every article comes a differing opinion on the level of value millennials bring to the workplace. Regardless of where you fall on the love/hate spectrum with millennials, there’s one truth you can’t escape: Millennials are becoming your new workforce whether you like it or not, and retaining top millennial talent is crucial to your business’s future success.
Building a high performing workforce begins with hiring the right talent, but to retain that talent, especially in the millennial generation, you have to be in touch with what motivates them to do their best, most innovative and creative work. In 2015 millennials became the largest generation represented in the workforce, and with this change came the realization that millennials expect more from an employer/employee relationship than their parents did. Understanding this difference is vital when hiring millennials. The way they think, act, and perceive is distinctly different from other generations, and you should keep this difference in mind throughout recruitment, onboarding, and employment.
In today’s business world, age and experience are not as important to success as they once were. The Internet allows a majority of the world to access any piece information they need in a matter of seconds, so creative problem solving, early adoption of technology and internal innovation are becoming the best ways to stay ahead of your competition while simultaneously attracting millennials to your company.
In the millennial generation especially, very few aspire to be a workaholic who is constantly in the office. In the not too distant past, constantly being in the office seemed to be a badge of honor that was worn proudly, but in the present, consistently being in the office after hours is seen as being inefficient. Every day businesses are implementing technology that improves and streamlines processes all while allowing their employees to do their work wherever they can access the Internet. Delaying implementation of useful technology that allows your employees the flexibility needed for work/life integration causes stunted business growth and drives your millennial workforce to pursue other employment opportunities.
By allowing your employees the flexibility to do their job from multiple places if needed, you are almost guaranteed a happier workforce. Implementing technology that allows your workforce to be continuously connected eliminates pointless meetings and chatty office colleagues, all while reducing the stress of your workforce by providing more flexibility. Millennials as a generation value flexible scheduling highly when seeking employment and are drawn to jobs that allow remote work. Not only will your employees be happier with their schedules, but they will also be more productive, and statistics show they will stay longer with your company.
Utilizing tools such as an HRIS platform early in the hiring process is an excellent way to position your company as an early adopter of technology, which is extremely attractive to millennials when seeking employment.
One of the top reasons millennials search for new employment is the feeling that they have learned everything there is to know about their current position. After performing well in a position for a couple of years, many millennials want to learn new skills and increase their understanding of the company as a whole. This can sometimes be seen as arrogant by managers, but usually, stems from a desire to more fully understand the company and their role within it. Many millennials still haven’t decided what they want to do in their careers, so by allowing them to try different things, you are helping them discover where their passions and talents lie. To millennials, why they are doing something is just as important as what they are doing. By increasing your employees’ understanding of different departments, you help show them why you do things a certain way while also empowering them with information to make informed decisions across different departments.
By offering things such as “lunch & learns,” professional development courses, and certification classes, you are providing value to employees that will keep them at your company longer. When looking at the average cost of replacing a millennial employee ($15,000-$25,000), it is an easy decision to begin offering incentives to keep your employee turnover low and engagement high. To make the program even more attractive to your millennial workers, try making all professional development courses accessible online and automate the entire certification tracking process through an HRIS platform to save hours of data entry.
Most millennials don’t remember a time in their lives where they couldn’t access the Internet to find the information they needed, and with this ability came the desire to have as much information as possible to make informed decisions. By not communicating to employees about company happenings, you convey a lack of trust in your employees and make them feel undervalued. Not only does withholding information harm your employees, but it also harms your company by squashing creative problem solving and collaboration among employees and managers.
The first step to increasing communication within a company is to create a safe space for your employees to share their thoughts and opinions without the fear of being reprimanded or misunderstood. By allowing your employees to talk to you about the positives and negatives of their positions, you are not only helping that employee; you are empowering yourself with information on how to tailor the position to fit their needs and strengths. Because a majority of problems in life tend to be caused by either miscommunication or a lack of communication, it is vital to increase positive communication across departments and levels as your business grows its millennial workforce. “Because I said so” is not a valid answer to most millennials today.
Millennials are often portrayed as social media addicts, and it is likely true, but I believe this comes from an intense desire to be connected to others. Millennials grew up in a world where they could connect with anyone in a split second no matter where they were, and with this level of connectivity came the ability build relationships with likeminded people all over the world. Not only has this connectivity allowed information sharing and technology to develop much more quickly than in previous generations, but it has also spoiled us with constant connection and attention from our peers, which millennials have come to expect.
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Building a meaningful relationship with your employees is necessary to retain your workforce. Where there is no personal relationship, there is no loyalty. By making a conscious effort to build meaningful relationships, you are increasing loyalty and trust between management and employees, all while decreasing turnover. It doesn’t even have to be some grand gesture to win their loyalty. It could be something as simple as having a drink or coffee with them and asking what they like to do in their spare time. Ask a millennial that simple question, and they will open up about what motivates them, their goals, passions, and struggles. By spending time with your millennial workforce outside the office, you are building relationships based on mutual respect and understanding. It is important that you share your goals, passions, and even struggles as well. Millennials are drawn to people they believe are genuine in their motives, and they have a knack for seeing right through you if you don’t practice what you preach.
With the rate that information is exchanged today, millennials have gotten used to immediate feedback, and they have even grown to expect it. Once a year performance reviews are not enough, and even once every six months is pushing it. To ensure your millennial workers are motivated, it is important to let them know on an ongoing basis that they are on the right track with their work performance. If they are excelling in areas, be sure to let them know. If they could use some help in other areas, offer to sit down with them and walk through their thought processes and provide constructive advice. When offering help in areas where they are lacking, be sure to approach it as a learning experience and a chance to grow. By developing a mentor/mentee relationship with your employees, you will be able to discuss positives and negatives with them freely without having to worry about whether or not you have offended them or caused them to question their position in your company.
Attracting and retaining top millennial talent in your organization can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you have never managed a group of millennials before. It seems to be much easier to focus on the negatives of a generation as opposed to the positives, but a few slight changes in your organization and leadership style can be all you need to start attracting more millennial talent. By building meaningful relationships and offering continuous feedback to your millennial employees, you are empowering them to excel in their careers while simultaneously benefitting your company by adding educated, skilled, and innovative employees to your workforce.
Nathan Kittrell has been involved in sales and marketing since graduating college. Selling anything from city-wide conventions to payroll for a three-employee company, Nathan strives to ensure all customers are treated with respect while partnering with them to meet their business needs. He enjoys volunteering his time as a board member of Greenville County Youth Orchestras and working with other organizations such as Youth Leadership Greenville. You can read more of Nathan's writing on his blog, Business-Minded Millennials: https://businessmindedmillennials.wordpress.com.