Did you know that millennials (those aged between 18 and 34) now make up more than a third of the American workforce – making them the largest working generation? It's a pretty staggering fact.
From my experience of running a business, I've found they bring a lot to the workplace too. They have an amazing grasp of technology (let’s face it, most can’t imagine what life was like without cell phones or the internet) and are willing to work hard to satisfy their ambitions.
But, with recent research suggesting that almost half of millennials would quit their current employer within the next 2 years, the question I'm constantly asking is not only what I can do to attract them, but what can I do to keep them working for my business.
Here are 15 things I’ve found that millennials love about my workplace. Spoiler alert - these could also apply to your business:
1. Workspace: In the age of Google, no one wants to work in a drab, boring office anymore - so step away from the cubicle. A bright, colourful, open workspace can really help to lift the mood and engage millennials, while break out spaces can help to aid collaboration and creativity.
2. Remote working: Does everyone always need to be in the office? Recent research from FlexJobs shows that 85% of millennials want to telecommute all of the time. Think about how your business can better support remote workers with access to tools like online meeting rooms and video chat.
3. Technology: Millennials grew up with technology – smart phones, laptops, tablets – you name it, they’ve probably got it. Even if your budget can’t afford the very latest tech, it’s worth keeping an open mind if your millennial (or any other!) workers suggest that a certain tool will help them do their job. It’s likely to increase their productivity but will also give them job satisfaction and keep them engaged.
4. Learning opportunities: A key consideration for millennial job seekers is the opportunity to continue their learning and develop new skills so, it’s important to ensure there are chances for employees to try something new or get involved with a project that may stretch their ability. Be sure to mix in some more formal training programs, too, on topics that are relevant to your industry and business.
5. Coaching: Some millennials (particularly those toward the younger end of the age bracket) will be recent graduates and just starting out in the world of business. Give them access to a more experienced mentor or coach within the business who can support and guide them if they have any questions or concerns.
6. Responsibility: Empower millennials by giving them responsibility to get the job done in the way that they think works best. They may look to you for a little guidance, but would far rather be coached than told what to do.
7. Work/life integration: For millennials, work/life integration is the new work/life balance. They are happy to work hard but want to do it in a flexible way that accommodates their commitments outside of the workplace. Think about offering employees flexible work arrangements that enable them to make time for family, friends and hobbies while also getting the job they were hired to do done.
8. Charitable activities: Millennials are motivated by making a difference and want to work for a company that cares. Find local charitable causes or events that you and your business could get involved with. Not sure where to start? Programs like the United Way can help you support your local or broader community through donations and volunteering opportunities.
9. Having a voice: One of the most important things I can do for my employees is to listen to them. I’ve had young, talented members of staff leave in the past because they felt like they weren’t being heard. Now, I make a conscious effort to support and promote a candid culture in my business and ensure that everyone’s voice gets heard.
10. Mental wellness: Mobile technology has made it increasingly hard to ‘switch off’ from work - quite literally in some cases. Focusing on my staff’s mental wellbeing has helped me to recognize when stress is becoming a problem for them and allows me to offer support before it becomes a bigger problem, or they leave.
11. Physical wellness: While I don’t have the money (or room) to put in an onsite gym, I can provide a healthy workplace for my employees – a big attraction to health-conscious millennials. Simple things like lunchtime walks, providing healthy snacks and offering flu vaccines all help to make a happy, healthy worksite.
12. Great benefits: Contrary to popular belief, almost 2/3rds of millennials care about work perks and benefits (which is more than their older peers). Offering my employees a greatvoluntary benefits packageis one of the simplest ways I’ve kept many of them from going elsewhere.
13. Recognition: Millennial employees flourish within a culture of recognition and respect. Recognizing them for their hard work doesn’t need to be expensive. I’ve found that a simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way - as does a team happy hour to celebrate the completion of a project or a big account win.
14. Equal pay: This is something I’ve worked hard to offer my employees. As the gender pay gap debate comes into focus, more and more millennials are asking for equal pay. And, with states like Massachusetts leading the way by banning job interviewers from asking applicants how much money they earn, this issue will only become more important.
15. Social events: If you want to keep a happy, motivated team it’s essential to make time for a bit of fun every now and then. Team lunches, an after-work gathering and off-site meetings are not only great team building activities, they also help to show employees you care.