Part 3: How to Retain and Feed Your Millennials
by Laura Blakesley
I recently attended an event where some college students were asked to go up on stage. Once they were up there, the speaker asked the audience to shout out their perceptions of college students nowadays (essentially the tail-end of the Millennial generation). Rather than participate in the verbal barrage, I chose to pay attention to what was being said and by whom. What I saw was not very surprising. There were two types of sentiments being thrown out there:
1. The Negative: “…entitled, antisocial, impersonal, focused too much on tech…”
2. The Positive: “…resourceful, knowledgable, able to communicate on many fronts…”
I couldn’t help but note the generation gap between the people shouting out these two very different types of sentiments. The majority of people who leaned more toward #1 looked to be a little bit older that those leaning more toward #2. Thinking about how this relates to the work environment, we need to be more aware of our generational differences. We need to be able to relate to each other so that retention and job satisfaction don’t slip through our fingers.
Let’s dig a little deeper and look at things that will help employers retain and feed Millennials in the work force:
*Share your company values: By sharing your company’s values you bring a very personal piece to the table. Millennials thrive on values and trust. If they feel you are putting yourself out there, they will understand they have your trust and you might find them taking on your same values and really running with them.
*Offer varied incentives: Not everyone is all about a cash bonus these days. Find out what motivates your employees – is it really monetary or are they interested in other things like travel, taking classes, or being able to work from home? Offering incentives that tie into a person’s core motivation will help increase productivity.
*Foster open communication: Millennials really want to be heard. They want to be a part of the process. LISTEN to them! They’re really knowledgable about bringing your company to the present. Consider your presence on social media – how active are you on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook? Millennials are constantly sharing their life stories on their social media accounts. Why not share your company’s “life story?”
*A “fun” work environment: We are seeing more and more about companies that are changing up the office dynamics. They’re making it fun to come to work, you’ve seen some of what I’m talking about: bring your dog to work day, foosball in the conference room, bean bag chairs in the waiting room. Bring a little fun in (of course, within reason) and see the morale and levels of investment grow.
*Train outside the box: We all remember sitting through those 45+ minute training videos – why we think that the droning on of policies and procedures will stick in our minds, is beyond me. Everyone has different learning and communication styles. Change up your training with those different styles in mind. Consider offering a mentor, opportunities to shadow others, roundtables, or interactive online seminars.
*Treat your employees like family: They’re with you for the majority of the day – why not? Millennials thrive on relationships and will be more loyal to a company that appeals to their need to connect.
Companies are getting creative these days and Millennials are taking notice. They thrive on being able to define themselves and companies who are changing and adapting are going to be the ones that will retain the best talent.
What will you do to stand out?