Finding and keeping top talent has always been a challenge. From toxic office culture to advances in technology that continue to decentralize workforces, our current environment faces new obstacles. So-called expert opinions abound about retaining millennials. Many want to weigh in on the debates about what makes millennials tick and the problems employers run into hiring them. But let’s cut the crap for a second. They’re just people! It may be that this generation is a little less willing to put up with certain environments, and that they may be more willing than recent generations to job-hop to find a good fit, but they aren’t magical forest creatures. Their priorities are different.
Though needs vary across industries, below are essential things to consider when you think about keeping your millennial workforce around.
This single issue might be the most important. Look at the recent bad PR for Uber, the transportation networking startup: people deleted the app in droves in the face of certain allegations, mostly over the behavior of its CEO. Reputation matters to millennials, and it’s worse when the reputation’s good but the behavior is only skin deep. Just as your customers care about how you run your business, your workforce cares too. Run your business, but don’t be a jerk about it, and you’ll stay in the clear.
Show Off Your Brand, but Please Don’t Angle It
Remember that the point of your public persona is to clearly define who your company is. Whether or not you buy the line about millennials being flaky, their appetite for getting snowed is pretty low. If you want a good fit, you’ve got to show your true colors. If you don’t have a lot of millennial employees or are having trouble retaining them, you might try refining your brand to more clearly define who you are, or work to highlight priority reasons that millennials could be happy there.
Play Nice: Learn to Trade
Since it’s easier to work within a decentralized model these days, many people who would have just hated life a generation ago because they’d have to join the nine-to-five grind are opting to hunt for companies that offer flexibility. Flexible time off, flexible office hours, flexible health plans, or even flexible desks. Yes, there are concerns to be addressed, like coworkers being able to reach each other when they need to, and internet outages, and how to vet whether a new employee really is self-motivated enough to work from home three days a week and not just watch Netflix for six hours straight. But don’t dismiss these possibilities without a serious look.
Take Some Chances
One thing missing from a lot of companies for many years was real dedication to taking chances on employees. Hired to do office work, but discover an aptitude for improving systems across the company? Hear that employee out. With today’s ubiquitous access to information, your workforce is hiding glaciers of undiscovered talents. If you’re willing to allow innovation to occur in a way that improves your business, empowers your employees, and potentially revolutionizes just your office — or your whole industry — think what you can do with just one of these instances!
Lastly, if you’ve hired a millennial and they don’t seem happy, talk to them about it. Approach them from a team-building position and find out what isn’t measuring up to their expectations or their hopes. If they have trouble defining it, work with them to discover why they’re struggling. There’s no better expert on millennials than the actual people that make up the demographic.