The word “Millennial” was Googled well over 200,000 times during the month of July 2016. Roughly double the search volume just 12 months ago.

Why so much interest?

Perhaps it’s due to the fact that employers and HR managers simply don’t understand this generation. That’s a problem when your company relies on Millennials to fill many key positions in your org chart.

Love ’em or hate ’em, “Millennials now represent the largest segment of today’s workforce”, according to The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016. Not only that, but Millennial workers now fill positions from the bottom to the top of the company ladder.

With this in mind, it’s not hard to wonder why employers are scrambling to understand, attract, and retain Millennial employees. The problem is this: Millennials are simply not statistically loyal to the companies they work for.

According to the same study by Deloitte mentioned above:

Two-thirds of Millennials express a desire to leave their organizations by 2020. Businesses must adjust how they nurture loyalty among Millennials or risk losing a large percentage of their workforces.

Scary right?

I’m writing this to tell you, leading, engaging, and retaining Millennials doesn’t need to be as cryptic as the statistics might lead you to believe.

Millennials, like any generation, are merely humans. Sure, this generation has grown up with certain tools at their disposal, which no doubt has formed them with certain unique traits and values… The key is simply understanding those values and taking action.

In your quest to appeal to current and future Millennial workers, here are 5 tips that are sure to keep them engaged, and invested in your company’s mission:

#1 – Be accessible

Millennials have grown up in a world of accessibility.

Access to information, access to people…

Think about it: We live in a world where it’s possible to hop on Instagram or Twitter and send a message to almost anyone on the planet.

If this is the case (and it is…) how much more accessible should your leadership team be to those lower in the org chart?

To be clear, I’m not suggesting the total absence of boundaries. You should not be fielding HR questions from your staff while in bed at 1:00 AM… Your CEO shouldn’t be responding to employee questions or concerns at every hour… This would drive anyone insane.

However, engaging with your employees in a modern, relevant way will ensure your employees are able to contribute, stay engaged, and feel heard.

Examples of this could include text, slack, twitter, etc… Wherever your employees are already going to communicate with others. Our company likes Slack. By creating multiple channels within Slack, we’re able to communicate about many separate subjects within our company and choose who sees what. Another benefit is that our Slack channels end up as a repository for many key issues and processes.

Whatever route you take, be sure to set up policies and procedures surrounding the use of this communication technology to keep things above board for everyone.

#2 – Be real with them about social issues and world events

Millennials value transparency and authenticity above almost all else… If something really big is happening in the world, don’t be afraid to engage your people on the subject… The recent issues of violence we’ve experienced lately for example, are an opportunity to rally together around a cause…

But how?

Send out a company email, or post on the company social media channels that your company doesn’t stand for this (insert horrible thing)… Then pick a simple way to respond… It could simply be linking to a charity that fights against whatever type of injustice is being committed… It could be showing up at a peace walk together as a company family. Take the opportunity to suit up in company shirts and show your community what kind of organization you are – One that cares. Whether or not you do take action, I can guarantee you that your company is filled with people who DO care… You just have to give them an outlet, and lead them towards action.

Purpose beyond profit, as Deloitte refers to it, is something your Millennial workforce has a hunger for. Engage them!

#3 – Ask them for feedback

I know – The Millennial generation is labeled as overly opinionated and narcissistic. But think about yourself when you were 24… Were you much different? Looking at the bright side for a second, these young employees see the world a bit differently than your eldest ones tend to… For better and for worse, they tend to be more idealistic, excited, and even open-minded than older employees who have already “seen it all”. Take advantage of this by conducting a company survey and leveraging their unique perspective.

Ask them what they think of your company branding, how your company treats it’s customers… What is The ONE Thing they’d change to make your company a better place to work? What’s the one thing they’d change to provide a better customer experience? What do they think of the CEO? Or the manner or frequency that the CEO communicates with the employees?

This list could obviously go on forever, but a key consideration is this: Millennials are more than just your employees – They also represent an increasing segment of your customer base… (soon to be the largest) And if you’re like many companies, it’s the segment that you are struggling to understand and reach… Oh… And when you’re putting together your company survey – Let Millennials help!!! The easiest way to reach a Millennial, is to get in their corner, speak their language, and care about the things they care about.

#4 – Consider what actually appeals to them

According to a recent report by the US Chamber Foundation, the average tenure with a given company is about 5 years for baby boomers, and just 2 years for Millennials. While we can’t control all of the dynamics at play here, which include things like increased entrepreneurial spirit, we can certainly try to understand what makes Millennials stick around at all.

When seeking to retain a millennial, consider tailoring your employee benefits to their needs. What might surprise you, is that compensation often plays second to your overall compensation and benefits package. Perks like your time off policy, a telecommuting option (get a guide for this here)(and here), and even benefits like home grocery delivery like Hello Fresh. Even giving employees the option to come into work later, and leave later may be beneficial to them, and cost you nothing. As previously mentioned, a decent employee survey will reveal what your employees value here.

Once you hone in on which benefits will give you the most bang for your buck as an employer, you’ll want to communicate those benefits to them in a modern, appealing way.

This leads us to the next point:

#5 – Use modern technology whenever possible

Here’s the inside baseball on Millennials and tech… No kidding, if you roll into a coffee shop with an 8-year-old PC laptop… People are literally going to think less of you… I’m not saying this is right! But it’s the truth. In the same way,  people under 35 are not down with old-school “windows 95” HR systems…

Why is this such a big deal to them?

Young people, in particular, tend to equate modern technology with success. That new Macbook Air is a status symbol. The fact that your company uses a Nest thermostat, is a bragging right when they talk to their friends. In the same way, the systems that you use to communicate the most important information to your employees should also be worth bragging about. We’re talking about their compensation data, their benefits enrollment information, and their financial incentives here.

With all the money your company shells out to provide these benefits to your employees, it only makes sense to deliver them in a package that signals quality… One example: Remember that feeling when you unboxed your iPhone? It was just short of a spiritual experience! Now… Imagine if it came in a boring brown box… Exactly!

In a world where virtually everyone is an expert photographer, curator and blog author, presentation is key when delivering information to your employees.

 

This is by no means an all-inclusive list of “Millennial best practices”, but it’s sure to get you off on the right foot. For more info on working with Millennials, get on our mailing list. Our weekly posts will continue to explore this issue in more depth, as well as other relevant HR topics to fuel your growing company.