Building a Culture to Attract the Millennial Worker

I started with HORNE fresh out of college a little over 10 years ago. I’m part of the Millennial generation, usually described as those born between the early 1980s and 2000. Many of the qualities that make a workplace attractive to my generation started to evolve as generations ahead of us struggled to integrate new and faster computers into jobs that previously had little or no automated assistance. The key difference for Millennials is that some form of information technology or automation has been a part of our lives throughout our formative years, and that creates certain expectations about how technologically savvy our employers will be.  

A Millennial’s dream employer would use the latest hardware, software and social media, coupled with leading-edge management practices, to help us maximize our productivity and maintain a high quality of life at all times. Most of us are pragmatic enough to understand that not every employer can offer all of that. However, businesses that demonstrate leadership in these areas as they work to recruit, onboard and retain the top talent will definitely be employers of choice.

  1. Recruiting – Keep in mind that everything you do online can have an impact on recruiting. A fresh website with frequently updated content is a good start, but most Millennials will give equal or even greater weight to your presence on social media. Even as you work to connect with customers or clients, the channels you choose and the statements you make will present a public personality that prospective employees will evaluate when choosing a workplace.
  1. Onboarding/Training – If you want to understand how Millennials learn, think about the last time you got a new phone. Did you attend an all-day seminar where a speaker read PowerPoint slides to you about every feature without regard to what you wanted to know about the phone? We’ve grown up with “instruction manuals” that told us how to charge the phone, turn it on, and find more information about it online. And we know our phones inside and out.

Obviously, onboarding and other trainings need to contain more information than today’s instruction manuals. But the phone onboarding process does provide insights into training techniques that effectively engage and energize Millennials:

  • Keep it short and focused.
  • Wherever possible, let us customize it.
  • Make it available remotely, on-demand.
  • When it has to be in-person, make it interactive. Let us spend time learning and discussing in groups with our peers. Include relevant case studies. Have leaders walk among the groups to answer questions and add relevant insights. Take every opportunity to talk with us instead of at us. 
  1. Retention – Once you’ve hired and trained the best people, you want to make sure they stick around. A good work environment will help to keep all of your employees happy. But there are some practices that may have particular appeal to Millennial employees.
  • Provide continuous feedback – My generation tends to want substantive feedback more frequently than an annual or 6-month review. If we’re doing good work, it helps to hear that reinforced. If we can improve, we want to hear about it now, not when HR says it’s time to tell us.
  • Support entrepreneurialism, not repetition – Millennials often expect more responsibility out of the gate than Gen X executives typically assign. Some employers want the new person to perform only the most basic function over and over before allowing them to work on the next step. A new hire may get a better sense of your overall process if the person works with a supervisor to shepherd the initial work product into the next part of your production or project management cycle before they start over again.
  • Explore work/life balance ideas –Flexibility in today’s workplace certainly includes the “traditional” notions of remote access and shifts other than the standard 9-5 grind. Many successful Millennials have work styles that are better evaluated based on individual and team results in addition to, or even in place of, hours worked. Once you’ve got the right people in place, communicate your expectations to them clearly and trust them to manage themselves and coordinate with team members to get things done. Use the continuous feedback process noted above to make sure that they know if they are staying on track.
  • Promote inclusion – Today’s new workers tend to look for a sense of belonging in the workplace. The more someone feels a part of a team that they like and respect, the more likely that person is to stay and grow with your business rather than shop the experience you have provided around to the highest bidder. Celebrate individual anniversaries and team achievements. Provide opportunities for team members to get to know each other outside of the office.

Millennial's have grown up with the ability to customize everything from consumer goods to travel experiences to education by placing orders directly with manufacturers and service providers. For many of us, even the most desirable jobs may still involve some of the least flexible rules and procedures we have ever encountered. The best way to counter the frustration that may arise from this is to pay close attention to new hires. While you can’t necessarily customize your workplace, you can provide individualized support from a coach or mentor who can help bridge the gap between our previous experiences and a new work environment.

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Topics: Recruiting, Culture

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