standing man reading a tablet in his officeMillennials are getting a bad rap. You read about these newcomers being “entitled” and even “lazy,” but in my observation these labels are plain wrong. In actuality, we’re witnessing the prior generation having a real challenge adapting to the work style of this incoming labor pool.

More and more companies are realizing that in order to thrive, they must cater to this new generation of professionals. While they are certainly different from their parents and grandparents (and even older brothers and sisters), millennials bring something to their company rarely exhibited so overtly in prior generations – passion.

Here are three tips to align your company’s values with those of millennials, and ways to address them during the hiring process:

Technology is a Necessity

Heads-up: Millennials love their technology. On average, millennials will switch their attention from screen-to-screen 27 times per hour. While this does not make them any more or less distracted than their gen X and baby boomer colleagues, it does show just how important it is for companies with strict technology usage policies to rethink their stance.

According to Cisco Systems, 56 percent of millennials would not accept a position with a company that bans social media use during the day. More over, one in three millennial job seekers said “he/she would prioritize social media freedom, device flexibility, and work mobility over salary in accepting a job offer.”

If a company cannot reverse such policies, hiring managers should be prepared to explain any company social media policies or restrictions as millennials greatly value flexibility and freedom in the workplace.

Millennials Thrive on the Opportunity for Advancement

Millennials need to feel challenged. They don’t want to be stuck in a position where their efforts don’t have an impact. Unlike their more senior colleagues who prefer formal performance reviews, millennials want feedback immediately. According to The Undercover Recruiter, an online recruiting blog, 80 percent said they would rather receive feedback in “real-time” along with frequent check-ins in order to stay on track. Your company’s12-month review process isn’t going to get it done.

In addition to regular feedback, millennials expect to work in an environment that is collaborative. They grew up playing team sports and working on group projects, and they expect that group mentality to carryover into the workplace. There are virtually endless ways to encourage collaboration, so it’s important for managers to identify what works best for their employees.

What this boils down to is that millennials feel the need to constantly improve themselves. They want to take on senior-level tasks (yes, even though they just got hired), and they understand that one way to do this through self-improvement. However, they also need to know whether there are growth opportunities within their company. If so, they will continue to challenge themselves. But if they are falsely led to believe such opportunities exist, it’s likely they will seek out positions elsewhere.

Culture is Key

For many millennials, deciding where to accept a job comes down to company culture. Generally speaking, they want to work in a place that allows them to pursue their ideas, build lasting friendships with colleagues, and enjoy a variety of perks like paid sabbaticals or unlimited paid time off. Of course a company’s offerings will vary, but even companies with limited budgets can have a strong culture.

While many managers get hung up on trying to create a culture like that of Facebook or Google, it is important to realize millennials are not expecting (or even wanting) that. They want something authentic – a culture that not only makes them want to come into work everyday, but to also be proud to say they work for Company X. And because of this desire, they are not going to stay with a company unless they enjoy the culture.

There are endless ways to build company culture – weekly team lunches, happy hours, mentor programs, etc., – but what it comes down to is nurturing that culture. And the best way to do that is to listen to what the employees have to say.

Millennials are without a doubt some of the most dedicated employees a company will ever hire. But to keep them around, managers need to address their needs and develop an environment that encourages their success. The better recruiters and hiring managers understand millennials’ values, the more effectively they can retain a strong workforce and provide scaling career opportunities.

No, they’re not lazy. They just have high expectations – and that’s a good thing for your business.

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