That, at least, is what the data says. In fact, the number of cities with more than 10 million people is expected to nearly double in the next 15 years, thanks mainly to Millennials' preference for living in them.
Of course, it's wise to take any data about a massive demographic category with a grain of salt. After all, there's plenty of counter-evidence suggesting Millennials will soon return to the suburbs, once they start reproducing.
Regardless, it's probably fair to assert that a high-tech, fast-growth company located in the Philadelphia suburb of Wayne, Pennsylvania, is doing something right if it continues to lure--and keep--a bevy of young talent, year after year.
For Evolve IP, a $60-million cloud services provider that has made the Inc. 5000 list three times since its inception in 2007, the attraction and retention of Millennials has been vital to growth, according to Chairman/CEO/co-founder Tom Gravina and President/COO/founding partner Guy Fardone. Of the company's 186 employees, roughly 20 percent were born in 1990 or later. And if your definition of Millennial stretches back to 1980, well, here's another brick in the wall: Approximately 60 percent of the company's employees were born in 1980 or later. On top of all this, Evolve IP boasts an overall retention rate of 94 percent over the past four years.
So what's the secret to recruiting younger employees and keeping them happy? There's no silver bullet, but here's a short list of what Evolve IP emphasizes in its culture:
Empowerment, recognition, and training.
Gravina, Fardone, and the Evolve IP top team have been working together since the late 1980s, when they grew a telecom company called ATX Communications to more than 300,000 clients and $350 million in revenue. Having earned success as young entrepreneurs, the Evolve IP founders are keenly aware of young employees' talents and energy.
For that reason, they are intent on instilling in all Evolve IP employees the notion that their ideas are worthy of top-team consideration--and big-budget bucks. No one's idea is ever dismissed based on their age or station in the company. To that end, Evolve IP calls all of its employees "associates." And there are numerous examples of associates' ideas that have had a major impact on the company.
One recent instance is the company's internal software program for employee recognition. An associate initially developed the program, called iPeeps, to gather
feedback from customers on new products--and to reward those customers for that feedback.
But about six months ago, two associates figured out that with slight modifications, iPeeps could also become an internal software platform through which associates could praise, acknowledge, and reward each other. "It was an immediately impactful idea," Fardone says.
The company also recognizes employees for their completion of training programs and leadership of cultural initiatives, such as charity events. Last year, associates logged a total of 20,000 hours of training in technical subjects and "softer" skills like communication and personal development. Evolve IP also offers training in life subjects, such as first-time home buying and financial planning.
Community participation and word-of-mouth hiring.
Many small businesses are solid citizens in their own communities, raising money for one cause or another and devoting volunteer hours in an organized fashion. Evolve IP takes it one step further, creating a setting where any associate can find and lead a charitable initiative. Since inception, the company has spent more than 5,000 hours and raised more than $4 million for 35 different charities.
Nicole Linehan, the senior manager of corporate affairs and development, vets the causes and shares the ideas with the top team. Her role eliminates the red tape that would usually exist at a company with nearly 200 employees, when an associate attempts to put a charitable cause on the radar of the top team.
The top team also leads by example when it comes to good works. On April 9, Gravina himself co-chaired a event called Coaches vs. Cancer, an American Cancer Society fundraiser at which several Philadelphia basketball legends appeared. Fifty associates from Evolve IP volunteered for the event, and the company raised more than $700,000.
Hiring associates with a community-oriented mentality is essential to the top team. And the company relies heavily on its own networks and word-of-mouth for referrals--as opposed to recruiters or headhunters. In fact, 96 percent of the current staff came by way of the company's direct efforts. What also helps is Evolve IP's proximity to Villanova University, which is located just outside of Philadelphia. Most of the top team are 'Nova alums. It explains not only the emotional resonance of hoops-inspired events like Coaches vs. Cancer, but also the company's connection to a wellspring of Millennial talent: Villanova, as it happens, was just named by Bloomberg as the top undergrad B-school in the country.
Gravina points out that while Wayne is a suburb, it's hardly the middle of nowhere. "Listen, it's 25 minutes from Philly. It's not Arkansas," he says, when asked about the challenges of luring young employees there. Nonetheless, he's proud to have co-created a culture which has, in and of itself, become an attraction to the company's associates. "We're firm believers that everyone can bring value to an organization," he says. "We always want to acknowledge it, recognize it, and reward people for it."