By 2020, my fellow Millennials and I will make up half of the entire global workforce.
We outnumber our Baby Boomer parents and Generation X in general population. Our growing impact makes us the most researched generation in history—and allegedly, according to many pundits, the most narcissistic.
We may dominate the workforce but our employers are still confused about how to manage us. Every day brings another news report about how difficult it is to keep us happy. We’ve heard that 30 percent of Millennials see themselves working for less than a year at their current company. To complicate matters, 93 percent are interested in hearing about other job opportunities.
Growing up, my generation was told that anything is possible if we put our minds to it. We were surrounded by messages like ‘Just do it’ and ‘Think different.’ This restless, high-achieving mentality is deeply embedded in who we are and what drives us in the workplace and in life.
What matters most to your Millennial workforce?
I’m personally attracted to entrepreneurial culture, great branding and inspirational ideas. What makes your brand stand out enough to attract Millennials? How will you keep us engaged? Here are seven strategies to ensure your Millennial employees love the workplace:
Make salaries competitive
My generation is acutely aware of our worth as employees, thanks to information sources like Glassdoor, and we know when we’re being undervalued. Employers who make salaries competitive will face the fewest struggles attracting and retaining new talent, and keeping them motivated.
This is because Millennials are unwilling to sacrifice quality of life, wait until retirement or compromise any optimistic future plans, so we look for competitive salaries or perks that allow us to maintain a certain lifestyle (within reason). For example, 55 percent of my generation (myself included) prefer to buy fair trade, organic and sustainable. I will go out of my way and pay more for farmer’s market produce over going to the nearby store. I also save up to spend big on trips abroad, unforgettable experiences and weekend getaways—which brings me to my next point.
Put work-life balance first
Balancing home and work life to avoid burnout is nothing new, but we Millennials certainly make it a priority. My generation is an active one that believes good health, both mental and physical, is a personal and social responsibility. We value companies that place emphasis on wellness perks, such as gym memberships, outdoor common spaces, nutritional snacks and team sports activities. Help your workforce find work-life balance by giving them the ability to work remotely, have flexible schedules, turn off during vacation and take advantage of perks.
Ensure job security
Compared to previous generations, our financial dreams aren’t that different. We see ourselves paying off our bills and loans, saving and investing money and earning enough to pass down an inheritance one day. Eighty-five percent of us, for example, plan to own a home. This is surprising, if you consider that Millennials lived through the recent recession, collapse of banks and 9/11, among other global issues. Our future plans are threatened, however, without proper job security.
When members of my generation feel valued, appreciated and secure, we respond with loyalty—and it’s loyal employees who are happiest, most engaged and work harder. How many of the 93 percent of Millennials who are open to other opportunities are also considering buying a home or settling down soon? And how confident are they that they’ll be receiving that promised raise? Fifty-two percent of my generation are attracted to companies with career progression opportunities.
Empower Millennials to make a difference
My generation is often called ‘high maintenance, high performers.’ I’ll admit: this is probably true. Many of us grew up receiving gold stars, ribbons and medals for showing up, so seeking approval is second nature. In the workplace, we look for opportunities to make our mark, demonstrate our value and leadership and give back to society. We want to make a difference and prove that our generation can make change happen, be it social, political, economic or environmental.
Give your Millennial employees the autonomy and resources to be change agents, helping your company evolve, and watch them flourish. For example, if your employee has a solution to a challenge outside of his or her immediate focus, remove the barriers, silos and egos and see what happens.
Show that health and wellness matters
We are a very health conscious generation—to a fault. More than any other generation, Millennials are proactive about our health, even if 58 percent of us tend to Google our symptoms. This informs our food preferences toward organic, ethical and local, as well as our active lifestyles. Fifty-five percent of Millennials enjoy nature and adventure travel and 32 percent enjoy backpacking, for instance, compared to seven percent of Boomer parents.
What does this mean for companies? Promote your health and wellness packages, encourage healthy food choices, organize culture-building outdoor activities and support exercise throughout the workday.
Treat us with more respect
Millennials have a fantastic nose for BS. We appreciate leaders and company policies that are transparent, open and truthful. Any hint of deceitfulness or inauthentic business practices, however, is a major loyalty killer. For example, if you have policies in place that support career growth, but don’t hold up your end of the bargain, what’s to stop your Millennial workforce from looking elsewhere? Nearly three in every four Millennials prefer a structured environment with clear rules for this very reason—so that both parties can be held accountable.
Emphasize your workplace culture
Workplace culture often falls flat without friendly, digitally-savvy and like-minded colleagues with whom to share experiences. Companies with the most Millennial-friendly workplaces will attract and retain the best talent. For example, 60 percent of the class of 2015 (yes, also Millennials) said they would prefer to work for a company that has a positive social atmosphere and earn less, than work for more at a no-fun workplace.
The office complexes of tech giants like Google, Airbnb and Facebook are extreme examples of how to use office perks, such as employee lounges, pools and even volleyball courts, as differentiators. Strike a balance between expecting Millennials to adapt to your current culture and adapting to suit changing workplace expectations.
Bonus tip: Engage with your Millennial employees on an ongoing basis
If my generation is, in fact, high maintenance, then consider offering more feedback and performance reviews than you would normally. Establish an ongoing conversation with your Millennial workforce to build a relationship and make sure you truly understand what drives and engages them—and how that changes over time.