In the business world, the millennial reputation is mixed. We’re known for our talent – but also our turnover.
The median job tenure for a Gen. Y employee is just two years, according to a PayScale report – a far cry from the seven-year average for baby boomers. Another study from Elance-oDesk found that 53 percent of hiring managers found it difficult to find and retain millennial talent.
I’ve watched friends change jobs – and often entire careers – several times before their 3oth birthdays. As for me, however, I’m in year 11 of my first job. I was 19 years old when I took a two-week temp position working for a data company, which became part of Nashville-based tech firm Edgenet. At the time, my intent was to make some quick cash while I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. Well, I happened to really enjoy my stint at Edgenet, and the rest is history.
I’ve been asked more than a few times why I haven’t explored new opportunities. In the tech industry, after all, competition is pretty fierce for the best perks. And while all-day snack bars and game rooms get the “cool” factor, for a lasting work environment, it’s important to make sure that connections to employees run deeper than games and free food. (In fact, the “ping-pong tables in a tech firm” has become a stereotype – and not a good one.)
From a millennial perspective, here are my tips to help employers conquer the great divide between Gen. Y and the other generations.
1. Give Us Flexibility
Millennials’ idea of work doesn’t always fit into a 9-to-5 schedule. We have busy lives in and out of the office, so we value the ability to manage work life and home life interchangeably. Promoting a strong work/life balance and offering remote working opportunities go a long way in showing your Gen. Y employees that you value them. A “take time off when you need time off” policy and even something as simple as encouraging employees to take personal calls at work (my office has special pods for that right outside the conference room) shows the company values all of your time, not just on-the-clock hours.
2. Don’t Let the Work Environment Become Stale
In most millennials’ eyes, change is excitement, and it’s something we’re used to. We went from VHS, landlines, and dial-up to on-demand streaming video, smartphones, and Wi-Fi – all before many of us were out of our parents’ homes. We grew up on change, and we thrive on it.
In my 11 years with Edgenet, the company has evolved dramatically. The company has taken me along for the ride, giving me opportunities to grow both personally and professionally. With each promotion, I’ve learned something new, which is essential to keeping the attention of the most educated generation to date. I even had the chance to move across the country to Nashville and reenergize my personal and professional lives.
3. Be Honest With Your Employees
If there was ever a time to be completely open and transparent with your employees, this is it. Millennials value being in the know, and, thanks to the Internet, we expect it. This goes for the workplace, too. We appreciate open and honest lines of communication between all levels of the company, and we expect to be held to the same standard. Sharing plans for the business and giving us the opportunity to offer input – and be taken seriously in doing so – is invaluable to earning our loyalty.
4. Open the Door for Progress
Millennials often want to know where we fit in the big picture. If we don’t see a clear path to growth and a desirable role, we already have one foot out the door. Be frank with your employees about their long-term potential within your company, and listen when they express their desires for change, whether it’s more responsibility, the chance to try a new role, or an idea to move the company forward.
Become a trusted mentor to your employees and guide them along their professional journeys to reach their goals. Even if those goals don’t happen to be at your firm, letting us know that you’ll help us get to where we ultimately want to be is an incentive to stick around.
5. Show Your Appreciation
Millennials want to stand out and feel valued as individuals. Our professional selves and work selves are intrinsically connected, and we find excelling at work to be personally gratifying. A handwritten note or some praise for great work in front of peers lets your employees know that their hard work and talent aren’t going unnoticed. Share how the work we do makes a difference to the company. If we feel valued and connected to firm goals, we have purpose – and that’s something we’re constantly thirsting for.
Millennials may get a bad rap for corporate loyalty, but because we are relative newcomers to the workforce, businesses are still trying to figure out how to work with our generation. You can easily win the allegiance of this generation – as long as you pay a little attention to our quirks.