Type “what millennials want” into Google and there’s no lack of search results. Plenty has been written on the subject, by people from older generations seeking to understand the current generation of young workers. It’s not rocket science, though. Many of the things millennial workers want, most employees want. Here are seven things to consider if you want to attract and retain millennial employees at your small business.
Go to them. Figure out where your target recruitment demographic hangs out online. Then go there and interact with them to find out what they’re looking for in a company to work for. Social media makes it so fast and easy to connect with people online there’s no reason not to reach out.
Offer flexible schedules and work at home options. So many current jobs can be handled virtually. There’s a huge benefit to having employees onsite – being immersed in the company culture, getting to know coworkers face-to-face, being able to check in with supervisors in person. But when rain is falling in sheets and your employee faces an hour commute or more just to satisfy a draconian attendance policy when they could work from home for the day instead? The resentment will build.
Don’t make them conform for conformity’s sake. With the Internet at their finger tips, millennials see innovative new ideas every day. We’re used to trying new things and seeing what works. And we value freedom of expression. If one of your millennial employees suggests a new way to do things, and you reject their idea, you should have a better reason that “We’re going to do it this way because the company has always done it this way.”
Make them feel valued. The old business model – where you get one job out of college and work until you retire, and the company takes care of you for that entire time – is dead, and millennials all know it. A worker can do everything right, and still get laid off with no notice. If you want your millennial workers to value the opportunity to work for your company, you need to demonstrate that you value your employees’ contributions in return.
Offer opportunity to advance. If millennials seem like fickle job-hoppers, maybe it’s because there’s no room for advancement at their current companies. If finding a new challenge means finding a new position – well, there are new startups forming every day.
Express clear expectations. If you have expectations of your employees outside of their official job duties, tell them. Don’t make it a guessing game. If you expect your workers to dress a certain way, then make the unofficial dress code an official dress code, and send out written guidelines. Don’t say the company picnic or work happy hours are “optional” if they are actually mandatory. Instead of mourning the “good old days”, when parents “taught their kids manners”, accept that things have changed and clearly spell out what you want from your workers.
Just ask. Do you really want to know what the millennial workers you seek to hire and retain at your business want? Ask them. Millennials aren’t shy about sharing their opinions, and may have some insight into the issue and a fresh perspective that you don’t. After all, isn’t that why you want to attract and hire millennials at your company in the first place?
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