Millennials, born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, will make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025. As technological advancements change the way we do business--and as baby boomers (slowly but surely) begin to retire--your company will increasingly need to attract and retain millennials in order to compete.
When it comes to their careers, millennials are very different from their parents and grandparents. They grew up in a time of tremendous economic uncertainty, and many graduated college when the unemployment rate was at an all-time high. After being promised that a college degree would be the key to job success, many millennials found themselves either un- or under-employed. Understandably, they became resentful and distrustful of the workplace. Now, 91 percent of millennials say they only plan to stay at their next job for less than three years.
This is a sad state of affairs when some of the most valuable employees are those with tenure greater than three years. But it doesn't have to be this way! By making your company more millennial-friendly, you'll be able to attract and retain millennial talent. Millennials aren't just the future of the workplace--they also have a lot to offer today.
Millennials are Tech-Savvy
Lazy/Busy. Narcisstic/Giving. Distant/Connected. Over and over, millennials are described in conflicting ways. But one objective fact is that this is the generation that grew up with the Internet, electronic devices and a level of interconnectedness that previous generations could not conceive of. Many were taught how to use a computer before they learned to ride a bike, and 83 percent sleep with their cellphone within arm's reach of their bed.
Simply put, these are people who aren't going to be satisfied with an office that relies on a faulty fax machine.
If you want to attract millennials, create an environment where they can interact with coworkers the way they interact outside of work: across multiple devices and platforms. Video chat, mobile apps, and social media are just a few communication channels worth exploring. These systems may seem intimidating at first, but the reality is they're here to stay, and they're a necessity in creating a millennial-friendly environment. In fact, 1 in 3 millennials would prioritize social media freedom, device flexibility and work mobility over salary in accepting a job offer.
Once hired, millennials' aptitude for tech can make them valuable assets to your workplace in more ways than one. In addition to serving as resources for less tech-savvy employees, millennials are very comfortable researching things on the Internet. They intuitively know--in my view--that you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time your company launches a new initiative, and that you can learn from other companies' efforts, successes and mistakes by mining the treasure trove of knowledge that is the Internet. Millennials can also be social media megaphones for your company by spreading company news and job postings to their followers--greatly increasing your digital reach.
Millennials Care About Creativity
The vast majority of millennials are influenced by how innovative a company is when deciding if they want to work there, and most say their current employer doesn't do much to encourage them to think creatively.
Don't be a dinosaur. Take steps to ensure your company culture is one that fosters innovation: remove barriers between employees and upper management, champion diversity, and provide ample brainstorming time. Box does a particularly great job of supporting innovation, making it fun and stress-free by hosting all-night brainstorming sessions--complete with pizza and beer.
Millennials are Socially Conscious
Just like boomers in the 60s, millennials now are eager to make a difference. They want to feel like their work will have a beneficial impact on society, so highlight your social responsibility efforts on your website and in recruiting materials.
And don't just "talk the talk"--actually commit to improving the world around you! Offering paid volunteer days for employees, designating recycling bins, and sponsoring community events are ways to create a socially responsible workplace and give millennials the sense of global purpose they crave.
Millennials are Hungry to Learn
Those who call millennials lazy couldn't be more wrong. In fact, 65 percent of millennials say that the opportunity for personal development is the most important factor in their current job.
To build an organization that develops future leaders, take a page from the book of Guidewire, a software company that ranks as one of the top companies for career development. To nurture employees, Guidewire holds frequent training sessions focused on personal development, and puts a premium on open communication between employees and senior management.
Of course, it's important to recognize that not all millennials are alike. Hiring a twenty-something worker doesn't necessarily mean you're hiring a social media guru who can solve your wireless connectivity problems. But, I can say that the millennial perspective, built from growing up with technology and coming of age in a tough economy, is invaluable to any company hoping to thrive now--and in the years ahead.