Stepping into the mind of a millennial isn't as scary or uptight as you might think. Although this age group has a bad reputation for "ruining" everything and for constantly job-hopping, the truth is that recruiting millennials is a different process today than it used to be. Traditional approaches that might've worked in the past have changed as the younger group now makes up the majority of the working world.
What, as an employer, do you need to know about the internet generation when you're looking for new talent?
Understand that their values are different
In the past, it was expected that after high school, you would find a stable, decent-paying job, and you would work there until your retirement date. Working hard and retiring from a job after spending your life there used to be the way of the American world, but that is no longer the case. Millennials have watched their parents and grandparents unhappily do this for years, arguably contributing to the change in the values of the working American millennial.
Understand the "I want a career, not a job" mentality
Likely you've heard that phrase before. While it used to be practical and accepted to work one job your whole life, most younger working adults don't see it that way. When applying for a job, millennials are looking for many things — but the potential for growth is a huge contributing factor.
If you're trying to attract and retain millennials, think about things like:
- Professional development. What kind of growth and training opportunities can you offer your employees?
- Leadership opportunities. What sorts of opportunities will your staff have to show off their potential to be a leader?
- Likelihood of moving up. Is your company one that can allow an employee to start at the bottom and work their way up?
They want to work hard for you, but they want a life too
Most millennials have been raised with good values about their occupations thanks to their World War II-era grandparents and baby boomer parents. They have been taught to be the best for the employer, go above and beyond the call of duty, and show that they're willing to put in a solid eight hours' worth of a workday for you.
Interestingly, though, most millennials value a healthy work/life balance. It's important to them to have a steady job, but on their terms. Being part of the Facebook and hyper-connected generation, what a millennial does for a living is more than just their job — it's part of their identity and social community.
Allow flexibility and trust
Millennials are not the late-night partying twentysomethings you might be imagining; they have children, families, homes, and lives of their own. Although meeting face-to-face as a team is important on a routine basis, think about other options such as:
Working remotely. If they have an internet connection and a laptop, this can be an ideal option for people with young children or who live far away. (Yes, it's not out of the question to hire from across the country — maybe even the world!)
Setting their own hours. The idea of someone working their own hours might sound a little off-putting to you, but give it a try and see how it works out. As long as the 40 hours a week are being accounted for, and your staff has been producing quality work, why enforce a nine to five workday?
Eliminate the need to micromanage
Come on, if you've hired a trustworthy staff that has never given you a reason to doubt them, do you need to monitor and control their every action? Traditional "paper pushing" jobs evoke the image of a suited boss yelling at his unhappy staff, which is an accurate description of how your typical millennial employee feels when you're too involved in their workday. Evaluate your practices as a manager. Are you a micromanager without realizing it? Self-reflect and take steps to change your attitude. As the quote says: "A boss has the title, a leader has the people."
Millennials want to make a difference
Part of how to recruit and retain millennials is to get into their headspace. This age group wants to make a stamp on society of some kind, and they've been trained by teachers and influential mentors in their lives that working a job that makes a difference can make an impact on the world.
When you're casting a net in the millennial sea, and you want to hook someone who will last for a long time, think about the long-term effects of the job you're advertising. Does it appeal to job-seekers looking for a career with a purpose, with varying degrees of challenges and projects? Millennials want to prove their worth in the way that enables them to change the community and the world around them. What are the long-term reasons for them to stay?
- Communication is key
As with any relationship, talking about everything and being on the same page is fiercely important. Why should it be any different at work? The concept of being valued is important to the working millennial; they want feedback and constructive criticism from their leaders to help guide them to do better. If you're not talking with them, how can you help them to grow?
- Be transparent
Rather than hide in your office, making decisions that will directly impact your staff, include them in on those decisions. Discuss everything and be completely open about it all. This makes your team feel valued; it helps to create a sense of trust and validity within the company while helping everyone to see different angles. Having a roundtable discussion to solve problems is the way that leaders have made choices for ages and is a hugely effective strategy when you put trust in your staff.
- Create opportunities for collaboration
Great things happen when you put many different minds together. Teamwork and finding new approaches to problem-solving are ideals that millennials thrive upon, especially when you allow people to work together who don't often get the chance. Allow cross-department projects and different people to work together on various problems to challenge your staff and to see their skills across all avenues.
Keep them for the long haul
Working millennials want the same thing you want: A structured work environment, happy employees, and a healthy growth mindset. Now that millennials make up the majority of the workforce understanding their mentality and catering to their values can help you find some great new talent.
When you develop a culture of free-thinking, trust, flexibility, and the concept of working for a better future, you're likely to find many applicants with varied backgrounds. Pick and choose the ones that would be the best fit for your business and get to work with a millennial mindset. Once you've found the staff of your dreams, the next step is to retain them.