Commentary by Ron Guerrier, Chief Information Officer, Farmers Insurance

Attracting, retaining, and more importantly engaging talent is often one of the biggest challenges businesses face today. As a business owner, these tasks may end up on your endless to-do list.

Millennials are a growing workforce, a generation noted as being well-connected, digital natives that typically thrive on collaborative, flexible, innovative work environments.

By tailoring your business to match these needs, you could be well on your way to owning the great business everyone wants to work for. And while it may seem daunting, creating an optimal work environment is easier than you may think.

Attracting millennial talent might seem like a tough task, but if you take the time to adapt to meet the needs of your workforce you can help decrease your turnover rate and increase productivity for future and current employees. Here are a few tips.

Remain transparent and communicate often

A major component in jumpstarting a cultural or structural change in your business is to remain transparent with employees. Harvard Business Review recently surveyed 1,700 U.S. workers and found that while having a great manager and being a part of a positive management culture is important to all employees, millennials place greater emphasis on transparency. Communicating often with your employees is something that I emphasize with my team at Farmers® --- it's important to making them feel valued and in the loop.

Offer clear paths for development and growth

I've found that millennials, among other generations, tend to think of their current roles as stepping stones and growth opportunities. They want to work for a manager who will invest in their personal development and give them a sense of purpose. If you can't offer employees a clear path for career advancement and/or development opportunities, you are potentially positioning yourself to lose talent to your competitors. Programs like employee resource groups or talent share opportunities across departments can ensure that employees don't feel pigeonholed in one specific role or job function.

Offer flexibility and recognition programs

Consider whether your business can break the traditional 9 to 5 mold by offering employees some flexibility in their hours. While this isn't possible for all companies, investigate the options that might work for your business. Also, look into recognition programs that would allow you to reward employees for going above and beyond, both in terms of how they work and in contributing to a positive environment. Rewarding the changes you want to see in your business will help you create an environment that is engaged and energized. When employees feel valued, they are more likely to stick around, as well as recommend your business to their friends and family.

Never stop innovating

Seventy-one percent of millennials reported themselves to be either "not engaged" or "actively disengaged" at work, making them the least engaged generation, according to a study done by Gallup. Additionally, six in 10 millennials said that they are open to different job opportunities, even if that means moving to another business. So how do you engage people? At my organization, we have an innovation lab that employees can use for brainstorming, collaboration activities and just as a general meeting space. You can include different types of creative activities in your meetings or have brainstorming sessions outside the office to help spur new ideas. By giving employees access to a range of tools and technologies, you can help them think outside the box.

By seeking to create an innovative, transparent and flexible workplace, you are helping to set your business up for success now and in the future. Thanks to a long career in the tech industry, one thing that I know for certain is that change is inevitable. Build your business to work for your employees, not the other way around, and you'll find that attracting and retaining all employees, including millennials, comes a lot more easily.

Published on: Mar 23, 2017