Meet Lori Goler. She's not a Millennial, but she works for the first Fortune 500 company founded by one: Facebook. And, she's pretty sure they've figured out how to motivate Millennials at work.
Goler, who leads Facebook's human resources and recruiting, spelled out in a recent Harvard Business Review article how the company recruits and holds onto their best Millennial employees. Here are the five key points.
1. Offer truly meaningful work.
Blah, blah, blah. You can read a thousand articles suggesting you should offer meaningful work. Usually that means recasting whatever it is that you do so that it sounds meaningful. The difference at Facebook (according to Goler, anyway) is that they let employees decide in part what meaningful means--not just the company.
Do they live up to this? Well, if you've worked at Facebook I'd love to hear your take on this. Goler writes that they allow new engineers, for example, to "choose their team, basing the decision in part on where they believe they will have the most meaningful impact, and in part on organizational needs."
2. Encourage true authenticity.
This is abstract--but maybe the fact that your CEO wears a t-shirt and a hoodie to work everyday, and announces he's taking two months' paternity leave, might set the tone. Millennials crave working in the kind of place that encourages them to share their authentic selves.
"In our view, there's nothing wrong with expressing one's true self, both at home and at the office," Goler writes. "Doing so translates into closer work-life integration and leaders who are more authentic and thus more effective."
3. Encourage use of talents and strengths.
Again--every leadership and management book in the last 20 years advises leveraging your employees' strengths. In practice though, this can go out the window if the organization has mediocre leadership--lurching from urgent priority of the day to crisis of the moment.
Facebook, granted, probably doesn't have the kind of pressure that smaller companies have any longer, but Goler says letting people design their own roles, rather that "force-fitting them into preexisting ones" makes it a more appealing employer for Millennials.
4. Encourage lifelong learning.
Millennials want "real-time feedback, ongoing coaching, and stretch development opportunities sooner and more frequently than traditional corporate cultures provide," Goler writes. "We've found that people of any generation value and benefit from that emphasis on continuous growth, and we encourage it at all levels of the organization."
As an example, she cites Mark Zuckerberg's reaction when an intern told him he needed to become a better public speaker. He practiced, she writes--and hired the intern.
5. Remember: Fortune favors the bold.
Some older people criticize Millennials for not being willing to wait their turn--for having a sense of entitlement, but Goler writes that Facebook tries to leverage this inclination. As an example, she cites the "rainbow filter" that so many Facebook users overlaid their profile photos with last summer in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage.
It wasn't a team of engineers or markters who came up with the idea, she writes, but instead was ""the brainchild of two interns. They had not been asked or assigned to create it, nor were profile pages the focus of their respective work. But they saw an opportunity and ran with it."