A Millennial-Friendly Workplace Is All About Getting the Values Right
Chances are you manage at least one. You may even be one yourself!
Poised to make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, this generation of future company leaders has a lot to learn from — and give to — your organization.
Yes, Generation Y — definitions vary, but for our purposes, we’re considering that to include everyone born between 1980 and 2000 — may be perceived as entitled, selfish, and technology-obsessed by some. However, they are also passionate, creative, and entrepreneurially minded. One recent study found 27 million American workers are considering a shift to self-employment by 2020.
What can companies and business leaders do now to prepare this generation to become the successful leaders and innovators of tomorrow? Give them what they want.
Yes, I’m actually serious. I don’t necessarily mean in terms of material compensation like unlimited vacation and higher salaries. Rather, I’m talking about supporting the three values that matter most to millennials:
Millennials have the reputation of job hopping, but that’s not because they don’t want to sit still. A recent survey by Department26 found that when accepting a new position, 50 percent of millennials plan to be at the company for five years or more. So, why does that rarely happen?
I would argue many millennials are forced to move on early because their employers don’t give them the opportunity to use their true talents. Has anyone in your company taken the time to get to know your millennial employees’ personality traits? Their specific skill sets and strengths? I recommend having every new employee take the CliftonStrengths test and the DiSC assessment. When you really have insight into your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, you can provide them with work and training opportunities that match their unique talents.
Was an employee hired as an analyst but has a knack for training? Incorporate this into their role, even if just by 10 percent. Are they leading a team in the accounting department but love to plan events in their personal life? Ask them to join the event planning committee! When employees can connect with their passions regularly during the workday, they won’t have to go looking for the opportunity at another job.
Millennials, more than any other generation, are propelled by purpose. In a survey from American Express and Kantar Futures, a whopping 81 percent of American millennials said a successful business needs to have a genuine purpose, and 78 percent said the values of their employer should match their own.
Does your company have a core purpose or set of values that are widely propagated and instilled in each employee? Is there a way to track the impact of your work, and do you share this information with your employees weekly, monthly, or quarterly? These concerns may seem silly at first, but you have to understand that millennials don’t just go to work so they can pay the rent each month. No, millennials are looking for a way to impact the world for the better. If they can’t find that at your company, they will inevitably find it elsewhere.
If you’re looking for somewhere to start, start small. Consider how your company can make a difference in the local community. Simple actions like sponsoring a family during the holidays, offering a few hours per year of volunteer paid time off for each employee, or organizing a quarterly community service outing for the entire office are great ways to ensure your team members feel fulfilled both inside and outside of the office.
A recent study by Northwestern Mutual found that millennials are in an average of $36,000 of debt, so it’s no surprise they place a high value on play. In those circumstances, who wouldn’t want to leave the anxiety behind every once in a while and just have some fun?
Millennials enjoy traveling, vacationing, exploring, and finding the hottest new Instagramable spots in the city. They don’t want to miss a thing (FOMO, anyone?). This is more than whimsical frivolity; millennials actually want life to be a cohesive experience, rather than a balancing of separate parts (work, play, family, health, etc.).
Giving millennials the flexibility to incorporate play into their lives — at home and the office — is essential for keeping them happy and healthy at work. Consider instituting a remote work policy if you don’t have one already. In one study, 80 percent of employees reported higher morale when working from home.
Some companies also offer days off for adopting a new pet, stipends for gym memberships, or even fridges stocked with snacks to cure that 3 p.m. slump. Anything you can do to help employees integrate their personal lives and needs into their work lives will be a win for both them and your organization.
Andy Bailey is the author of No Try Only Do: Building a Business on Purpose, Alignment, and Accountability. He is CEO and head coach of Petra Coach.