Born between 1981 and 1996, it’s safe to say that the majority of Millennials are pretty proficient in #adulting and have some amount of work experience behind them. For as much slack as this generation gets over their love of skinny jeans and ‘90s nostalgia, they are a substantial part of the workforce –and an influential one at that. In 2018, Millennials made up 35% of the US labor force.
Even though we are starting to see Zennials enter the talent pool, more and more Millennials are obtaining leadership roles. This means, for the foreseeable future, the demographic driving job seeker values (and subsequently company cultures) is Generation Y.
If you’re looking to keep –or attract— new talent from the most influential generation in today’s market, it’s important to understand where Millennial priorities lay when job searching. Here are the five things Millennials value in a prospective employer and its leadership:
Professional fulfillment is paramount to Millennials; if they feel their employer can’t (or won’t) recognize their contributions, they will find employment elsewhere
Recognition and Transparency
Millennials often get a bad rap for job-hopping and are criticized for not having any “company loyalty”, but the reality is there are plenty of employers who have retained their Gen Y talent for close to a decade. Where is the disconnect? Professional fulfillment is paramount to Millennials, so if they feel their employer can’t (or won’t) recognize their contributions to the company, or their voice isn’t being heard, they will be quick to say, “see you later!” and find employment elsewhere.
Being able to see how their hard work has positively impacted the company as a whole and how their role plays a part in driving your organization’s success is vital in providing Millennials meaningful recognition.
Keeping your Millennial employees in the dark about things like company growth and their contributions toward it is a red flag. Where other generations may be more apt to go with the flow of managerial and process changes, you may find getting the buy-in from Millennials a little bit harder if the “why” behind the change has not been effectively communicated. Providing regular feedback and being transparent about individual performance and global contributions helps bolster the team cohesion Millennials seek in prospective employers.
Making a Difference
The average millennial today wants a job where their opinions and experiences are valued. This means that most Millennials measure their production by projects, and not necessarily the time put into them. As a result, an emphasis on a fixed-schedule work structure can send the message to prospective Millennials that your company does not utilize its employees’ unique skill sets, nor does it have any interest in determining what those skills are; their purpose will be to simply put their hours in and be a warm body in a chair.
Of course, there will always be positions that require a more structured work schedule, but if it’s not something your open position mandates, a justification that boils down to “tradition for tradition’s sake” will be met with a lukewarm response in the interview room.
Work-Life Balance and Flexibility
In the same vein as feeling valued, you might find Millennials engaging with companies that offer work flexibility and/or the ability to work remotely. Again, for Millennials, the driving ethos is about how much value they can bring to a collective.
A company that gives them the ability to have a more fulfilling personal life is a no-brainer. If you are looking to retain your Millennial employees, providing flexible work options may be a factor in whether they stay with your company or try to seek opportunities elsewhere.
Companies that offer a variety of growth opportunities also appeal to Millennials. Having positions into which your Millennial employees can grow motivates them to come forward with new ideas. Having a variety of vertical advancement opportunities where unique skill sets can be developed further sends the message to your Gen Y team that their unique skill set is valued.
Being transparent and providing regular feedback lets your Millennial team members know they are working towards a worthwhile, obtainable goal, so be sure you are not dangling any carrots –intentionally or unintentionally. Trust is the lifeblood of team cohesion, and once that is eroded, it’s very hard to regain.
Mentors, Not Micromanagers
Just like any other generation, Millennial professionals are just that: professionals. Allowing them the ability to manage their time in a way that works best for them to hit deadlines goes a long way.
Keeping with the theme that professional fulfillment comes through contribution, many Millennials will seek out opportunities that allow them to grow professionally. An overly restrictive management style impedes that in their eyes. However, valuing collaboration doesn’t mean having someone hold your hand every step of the way; Millennials are rather autonomous and often prefer leadership to provide the tools to help them problem solve rather than a senior team member solving their problems for them.
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Putting it All Together
Although effective Millennial engagement may look different from company to company, the bottom line is that Millennials feel the most professionally fulfilled when they are actively contributing to moving their team forward.
Not only are Millennials the most educated generation, but most of them are also looking to take on more responsibility and develop their professional skills even further; they know where they want to be professionally, and they know the types of companies that can take them there.
By building and promoting a company culture that conveys mutual respect, rewards a positive work ethic, and has effective and open communication, you are giving your Millennial team members the moral support and professional tools they need to be successful.