By Amy Susan, Missouri Enterprise Communications Manager
When it comes to the millennial generation, a different set of strategies must be deployed to attract and keep them around in our companies. We are not saying they are right or wrong or that you as an employer are right or wrong. But we can all agree that we need to change to survive this workforce challenge and face the harsh reality that they will be replacing the aging workforce and previous generation. The truth is we need them. They do NOT need us (remember, they may still be living at home with their parents!).
After researching on this topic and holding focus groups with both millennials and manufacturers throughout the state, here are the major takeaways on what companies can do to better work with this emerging workforce:
Flexibility & Fun— We learned millennials do not always consider flexibility in terms of work schedule (although it still holds true that letting them start work late and leave work late is a great option for them!). Sometimes millennials just want more options to have a better balance of work and life. One idea was to offer a break in the day (outside of the lunch break) and call it something else, like “fun time” or “break the day” to give them 30 minutes to hang in the break room or another place onsite that allows them to escape for a bit. Buy a ping pong table and install a smart TV to place in the room. A few bean bags to relax on and a cool coffee maker. These small things that don’t cost a lot can make for the perfect spot for millennials to zone out, have a mental break and re-energize. Let’s be honest, if you don’t offer this mental break, they will find a way to take it on their own— by sneaking on their phones or online from work computers. And instead of a 30-minute designated time, they can start a bad habit and check their phones/social media at any opportunity throughout the day. Show them you understand them and know they need this time to themselves and make it part of your offering when you recruit.
Community - “A company that gives back to the community is huge for me and I believe for all millennials. Because we aren’t getting married and having kids right after college or until years later, we still have a desire to make a footprint in the world in other ways.” – a millennial that attended our event.
Wow, that is not what I expected to hear but it makes a lot of sense. This generation has been told since they were young to take care of the planet—and working for a company that supports this mission is a big draw. And the fact that they push family planning off could be a bonus for your company. Find ways to harness their instinctual desire to care about or nurture something… or someone. These could be the perfect mentors you are looking for (read last bullet point)! Also, the millennials could become the PR geniuses you need to position your company as one that gives back. Start a Big Brother/Big Sister program at your work for them to partner with youth and get involved in local events. This is also a great way to expose other millennials already involved in those organizations to your company for future recruitment. It all ties back together, doesn’t it?
Ghosting – One of the hot topics we covered was the “ghosting” phenomenon, which is essentially when a person is hired and either doesn’t show up to work OR they do show up for a few days and then never return. They do not email you or call you – nor do they respond to you when you attempt to reach out. What is this all about?! So, after listening to the millennials, this is what we found out—they are ALWAYS looking for other opportunities unless you give them reasons to stay. If you hire them and they find something else before starting at your company, they may not let you know. Terrible manners, right? They agree but it doesn’t mean they are going to stop doing it. One millennial suggested this as a potential remedy:
“Perhaps employers could send a reminder-like email to the person the week before or a few days before the first day. It could state why the company is excited to have them join, all the benefits of working with the company, what to expect on the job, and that if the person changes their minds about the position, please let them know. And perhaps have little buttons with ‘Yes, I am looking forward to it’ or ‘I’m sorry, but I have changed my mind and will no longer be joining your company.’”
I know this seems like a lot but just imagine how much time you could save if you knew a few days before that the person no longer wants the job. Another reason why ghosting can occur after they show up to work for even a few days is that they figured out right away that they made a terrible decision and do NOT want to come back. Here is another millennial:
“Starting a new job, especially if it’s the first one ever, is really scary for us. If we were to have a mentor around our age or in our generation who can be with us the first couple of weeks to teach us the ropes, establish bonds, and just show us that someone our age can do the job and still likes it – would help keep us around.” (see more on this in the next topic) Check out the video below of millennials answering the "ghosting" question from one of our events.
“Frientor”ship - Remember the whole mentorship idea…well, what about starting a “frientorship”? Remember, social life is extremely important to millennials and if you want to keep them around, you need to show them that your company cultivates teamwork and strong working relationships by organizing frientorships where you pair one millennial up with a few other likeminded millennial employees. A LinkedIn study found that 46 percent of work professionals worldwide believe that work friends are important to their overall happiness and said their performance improved, they were recognized for their progress and they had the opportunity to do what they do best every day.
Key point-- if millennials establish those relationships at work, they will hold one another accountable on projects, compete against each other in a great way, and it will be that much harder to leave the company if another opportunity arises.