Month after month, unemployment has held steady at low rates. It's a boon for job candidates, who have their pick of choice positions. Given a shrinking talent pool, employers are simultaneously discovering the need to reinvent themselves.

As companies everywhere re-evaluate their operations, processes and cultures, they're doing so with an eye on the millennial mindset. As the largest generation in the workforce today, millennials have choices that didn't exist for baby boomers or generation Xers. Top performers can write their tickets -- and they know it.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics released in September 2018, the average employee stays in one position for 4.2 years, whereas the average millennial employee stays 2.8 years. Millennials value the "freedom to choose" in their work cultures, from determining when and where they work to how they volunteer and get training. When that freedom disappears, they get the itch to make a different choice altogether.

Who cares about an expansive coffee bar if you're under crushing student loan debt? Leaving college with $25,000 in educational loans is par for the course, according to Pew Research Center.

If you're seeking to onboard more millennials, you need to develop an understanding of how to appeal to them -- beyond iced coffee or ping-pong tables. Start by taking note of several must-haves:

1. A Strong Culture

Millennials know they'll be spending more than a third of their hours each day working. They want their workplace and co-workers to give them energy. They've watched their parents go to soul-sucking jobs; they've vowed not to stick with roles like that.

Instead, they'll choose a company with a seemingly better culture, even for less money. Glassdoor reports that 80 percent said culture comes first -- ahead of career advancement opportunities or pay -- when researching potential employers.

2. Paid Volunteer Opportunities

Millennials really want to make a difference. Accordingly, corporations have begun to enable their employees to use volunteer time off instead of traditional paid time off. The team member loses no vacation time or pay to volunteer a few hours or days per year. (Bonus points if the company sets aside volunteer days for employees to help together.)

I talked with Amanda Hammett, the host of "Millennial Rockstars" who's also known as the Millennial Translator. She explained that one of her guests valued having the freedom to pick her own volunteer programs, which gave her more freedom to choose opportunities close to her heart.

3. Modern Benefits Packages

The traditional healthcare package doesn't move millennials. What catches their eye is an innovative benefits offering. How about a company that offers not only human health insurance, but pet insurance as well? Or an employer offering not just parental leave, but also time off to take care of aging parents?

Mental health insurance is becoming more common, too, as organizations recognize the economic impact of depression and anxiety. There's also the benefit of having Flexible Personal Development dollars allocated to each employee. This allows an employee to decide if she wants to go to a conference or take an online certification class. While the company would approve the opportunity to ensure it aligns with the employee's work, choosing her learning path allows an employee to commit on a deeper level.

4. Work Travel

Millennials are the get-up-and-go type. Should it come as any surprise that jobs with travel in the mix appeal to them? According to LinkedIn data, almost 40 percent would accept a smaller paycheck if it allowed them to explore the globe.

Even if you're not hiring for a position that includes regular travel, there might be room in the budget for conference trips a few times a year. Making use of platforms like Airbnb for Work and RoomIt will allow the company to save money and the employee to explore the host city.

5. Flexibility

Millennials like to structure their own workdays to attain better work-life balance. When company leaders talk to me about their company culture, they mention the need to create an environment that allows them to focus on other parts of their life. Millennials aren't just young people -- many have children now -- and they want to be able to pick them up from school without asking permission.

But don't worry -- you'll benefit, too. You're apt to see an increase in productivity if you can be flexible. Sure, there are times when you need all hands on deck, but it pays to be less stringent about hours or locations for certain positions.

When it comes to snagging and keeping millennials, think beyond free snacks. Let your imagination guide you to offer this new breed of worker the benefits she wants in exchange for her work, knowledge and advocacy.

Published on: Oct 23, 2018