Recruiting Millennials: What Does the Next Generation Care About in the Workplace?

If there seems to be a lot of hype these days about creating the perfect workplace for Millennials, it’s for good reason.

According to Pew Research Center, Millennials (those born between the years of 1981 and 1996) are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, reaching more than a third (35%) of the total working population nationwide as of 2017.

Considering this generation’s fast-growing presence and dominance of the labor U.S. employment base, it’s wise for HR professionals and management to be aware of what makes Millennials tick, what they crave in employment opportunities, and what helps them thrive in the workplace. This is not to say that companies need to cater solely to this group of workers — however, companies will miss out on a large pool of fresh talent if they are not adjusting in some way, shape, or form to needs and preferences of the younger generation.

Research shows that Millennials want:

  • The flexibility to work remotely: Millennials are known for valuing strong work-life balance, so it makes sense why they are drawn to the concept of working from home. According to a Gallup poll, more than half of remote workers (52%) are Millennials, and they tend to feel more engaged when working remotely. They’re also the generation that is most likely to want to continue working remotely after the pandemic (74% don’t want to return to the office five days a week).
  • A workplace that allows for diversity and inclusion: A 2015 study by Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI) found that 83% of millennials are actively engaged when they believe the organization fosters an inclusive culture. The study also found that Millennials define inclusion and diversity differently than previous generations, focusing more on cognitive diversity (or diversity of thoughts, ideas, and philosophies) rather than just demographic diversity (diversity or race, gender, religion, etc.). They also focus more on inclusion through a culture of collaboration, or diverse people interchanging ideas, relying on unique strengths, and working together to achieve a common business goal.
  • To work for a socially conscious company: The younger generation is socially minded. One study shows that 76% of Millennials take a company’s social and environmental commitments into account when choosing where they want to work, and 64% will turn down a job if a potential employer lacks strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices.
  • To have their skills properly utilized and have a clear path to professional advancement: Research shows that Millennials change jobs every two years. Why? For many Millennials, they leave because they feel like they’re not being used to their fullest potential. The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that 71% of Millennial employees who are likely to leave in the next two years are dissatisfied with the way their leadership skills are being developed. Those who jump ship are also likely to say they’re being overlooked for potential leadership positions. Meanwhile, the most loyal Millennial employees say their employees offer a good amount of support and training to those wishing to move up the ladder.

What Your Company Can Do to Attract Millennials

Now that you know what Millennials are looking for, it’s time to think about how you can make your company a better fit for this next wave of employees. Here are a few ideas:

  • Loosen the reins on your work-from-home policies: How lenient you want to be on remote work depends on the needs and values of your business. You may want to consider allowing employees to work 100% remote for certain positions, or you may allow employees to work from home a certain number of days out of the week. If you’re not ready to commit to that level of flexibility, you might want to consider allotting your employees a certain number of work-from-home days per year with no questions asked. This could help your company stand out to Millennial professionals and provide greater incentives for these younger workers to stick around at your company.
  • Create a diverse workforce and promote a collaborative work environment: As you hire new employees, be intentional about recruiting professionals from all different types of backgrounds, skill sets, and cognitive strengths and styles. Of course hire people of different races, religions, genders, and sexual orientations — but also think beyond that… hire different personality types, people with different leadership styles, and neurodiverse individuals (such as professionals who have autism). Additionally, think about how you can foster a work environment that encourages teamwork and collaboration among your staff, such as by having open office floor plans, more meeting spaces, software and tools that allow for easy digital collaboration on projects, team-based goals and rewards, etc. You should also create an organization that welcomes input from all levels within the organization and not just from management.
  • Make your company’s values known to potential Millennial recruits: Millennials want to work for a company that they believe are making a difference in the world so don’t be shy about letting potential recruits know what your company stands for, what social and community initiatives you’re involved in, and how they can participate as future employees.
  • Be willing to invest in your employees’ professional growth: Make sure your Millennial employees (and all employees, for that matter) are properly challenged in their roles. Assess their unique skill sets and education levels and see to it that their talents are being properly utilized in their roles. You should also provide them with tools and opportunities for learning and professional development (i.e. mentorship, training workshops, professional conferences, etc.) and educate them about the path they can take to advance within your company. According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, Millennial employees who plan to stay at their company for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%).

It’s important to remember that Millennials are looking for the real deal in an employer. They don’t just want the right title and salary — they want a company that matches their values and a place where they can see themselves growing in the years to come.

When Millennials find the right match, they’re willing to roll up their sleeves, work hard, and stay loyal to a company — but until then, they won’t hesitate to switch jobs as many times as needed.

Because of that, you’ll need to think big-picture when it comes to creating a Millennial-friendly workplace. Think of strategies that won’t just attract Millennials applicants to your company (recruiting) but will also keep them happy and productive long-term (employee retention). Oftentimes, this requires taking a good, hard look at the values and culture of your company as well as your efforts for maintaining high levels of employee engagement and well-being.

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