Companies need a mix of younger and older employees for a good balance of experience and energy. A business made up of only middle-aged employees, for example, may fizzle and die eventually, as there is no one to learn the skills needed to move forward. That’s why it’s important to attract millennial workers. The oldest members of this generation are now well into their 30s and the youngest solidly in their 20s.
Millennials have come into their own in the last few years, becoming more desirable as employees. The generation born between 1981 and 1996 offers creativity, tech-savviness, environmental conscientiousness and a strong work ethic. While some employers complain about millennials, others rave about their skills. If you want to attract the best of the best in the generation, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
1. Offer a Greater Purpose
The majority of millennials were children when 9/11 happened. It had a huge impact on their worldview. They saw people come together and help those who’d lost loved ones, watched their parents donate blood and money, and developed a sense of wanting to make the world a better place. Millennials care about social causes. If you offer them an opportunity to be part of something bigger, they are much more likely to choose your company to work for over another.
There are many ways for your business to get involved. You can offer a couple of paid days per year for the employee to volunteer at the charity of their choice. You could also work on a specific cause as a company, although this might limit you to only those employees who believe in the same thing. Giving back is vital to millennials, so embrace this mindset.
2. Speak Their Language
Social media and technology have given millennials a language all their own. From slang terms to acronyms such as TBH and LOL, baby boomers and millennials don’t always easily understand one another, even though they both may speak English. If you want to seem relatable to your younger employees, learn about the slang terms they use so you can communicate more effectively.
You can look up words online, but you should also simply spend time with millennials and listen to the way they talk. If they use a phrase you don’t understand, ask them what it means. Most are happy to explain, and you never know when you might be able to sprinkle some phrases into your interview questions.
3. Create an Airy Layout
Raised in a time where communication is at the tip of your fingers via a text message or online chat rooms, millennials crave a sense of community. Lay out your office space to encourage networking opportunities and provide light, airy spaces where they can brainstorm with other people on the team. Offer open space, but also be aware that most millennials have a hard time finding privacy. Provide areas where they can work in quiet without interruption, as well.
The interior of your building can attract or repel potential employees. No one wants to work in a dark, dingy dungeon. Bright, open spaces with lots of natural light are more attractive to all generations.
4. Empower Your Employees
All employees are more likely to stay at a business that empowers them to add their input to various projects. Create a company culture with an open door policy. Allow workers to come to you with complaints, praise or ideas. Never punish an employee for expressing concern, but work together to solve any issues. For example, if someone has a worry about a fellow worker, practice good conflict resolution. If all else fails, try to separate personalities that don’t mesh into different work areas. Both people will be happier and feel heard.
5. Provide Constructive Criticism
Millennials now make up the largest adult population in the United States, meaning you will have to hire them whether you understand them or not. Take the time to figure out how feedback sounds to your millennial workers. This is the generation that received participation trophies for just trying. You essentially have to praise, praise, praise and then offer room for improvement. Offer strong, concrete steps employees may take to move forward in their careers.
6. Compensate Them Well
You might not be able to offer the same salary as a Fortune 500 company, but you can provide other perks that attract millennials. The younger generation is good at seeing the big picture. Things like telecommuting from home or having time to volunteer locally all play into the decision about where to work. You might offer a matching program for a 401(k) plan or provide unlimited time off based on a salary structure. Just be sure you encourage workers to take a minimum number of days off, as some will rarely take off for fear of making a bad impression.
7. Show Your Appreciation
Do your employees feel overlooked? Gain and keep top millennial workers by showering them with thank-yous and gifts to show you appreciate their efforts. If your marketing team launched a successful campaign and increased revenue by 3%, reward them with a nice dinner out via gift card or a long lunch, paid for by you. Host a weekly recognition meeting where you pass out accolades, certificates and prizes.
Call one of your employees into your office and tell them what they’re doing right without focusing on mistakes. Let your workers know you feel they are irreplaceable, and they’ll become so. When interviewing job applicants, tell them about your company culture and how you reward your crew.
Bridge to Tomorrow
The millennial generation serves as a bridge to Generations X and Z. The youngest workers in the group after millennials are starting to graduate from college and come into the workforce. Relating to them is even more difficult because of the gap.
For your company to thrive and be as strong as possible, you need millennials to help ease the transition from one generation to the next. Fortunately, they are also hard-working, driven and bright, so you’ll gain some valuable employees in the process.
Lexie is a UX content strategist and web designer. She enjoys copious amounts of coffee (with a dash of milk) and walking her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.