Millennials seem to have suddenly turned up as a generation and have ripped up the rulebook of the workplace. Whereas previous generations stayed with one company in the hopes of job security or long-term benefits such as a better pension or loyalty bonus, millennials are more focused on growth, development and getting swiftly out of a workplace that does not work for them.
Their outlook towards work is different from their predecessors. It is not lazy, or any less committed. However, they look at a job as one piece of their entire lifestyle, not just a thing by itself. In this article, we will outline four key areas that millennials focus on when looking for the right place to work.
Most companies talk about their culture, especially during interviews or when they are trying to attract high calibre candidates. But culture is not quantifiable.
How do you feel when you walk into an office where every chair and every desk looks identical? Where items on desks are precisely the same, and there is nothing personal anywhere?
Now think about how you feel when you walk into an office where the furniture is the same, but each desk shows off its occupant’s personality? Where there are dashes of colours, a cool lounging space, a great vending machine, or a game room?
How do you feel when you walk into an office where men are dressed in a shirt and tie, and women in strict business suits? Equally, what vibe do you get when you walk into an office where people are dressed as they like, and you get to see a range of outfits from crisp suits, and tweed jackets, to jeans and t-shirts?
The culture of a company is about how employees feel when they are there. It’s the vibe they get. It makes them feel whether or not they are allowed to be themselves. And millennials are a generation that has been brought up to believe that being one’s self is a basic human right. Even in a workplace. That’s the reason why tattoos, once a taboo in any office or client-facing jobs, are now commonplace. That’s the reason why even the CEO of a successful modern company may be taking meetings wearing jeans and trainers. Millennials appreciate authenticity, so if your company allows them that freedom – within reason – they are more likely to favour you over your more traditional competitors.
The concept of working for more than just the money also ties in with having a purpose. Millennials want to contribute to something bigger than themselves. They want to know that their work, in however small a way, makes a difference.
Of course, feeling a sense of purpose is easier with some jobs than others. For example, if you are working in health, education or public service sector such as the police, you can quite easily identify exactly how you help people. But if you are working in most private sectors, which are no less important as industries, this could be difficult to convey.
However, it is possible to do so. When a company treats their staff right, contributes to the local community, or just generally makes their employees feel that their involvement somehow matters, in even a very small way, it can give them a sense of purpose.
Millennials are possibly the most inclusive generation in human history. The nuclear family is an outdated concept in most cases. Step-parents, step-siblings, LGBT friends and family, diverse social groups are a norm for them. This generation travels, has access to world-class online learning, and they are more likely to think on a global scale. Therefore, a company that promotes and encourages inclusivity is likely to appeal to them. It also fits in with their social justice expectations.
Perks for millennials can encompass many different things. Obvious things such as financial bonuses still matter, but often people would choose other things over money. These benefits can include things like free or subsidised gym membership, the option of having a stand-up desk, a flexible work schedule or remote working possibilities, rest/play areas at work, and focus on learning and development.
Millennials have grown up with technology, and they use it to tailor their lifestyle. Meetings can be done via Skype, presentations can be delivered through webinars, and popping out for an afternoon gym session doesn’t affect their work productivity. The reason places such as Google are viewed as employee-friendly is because of the freedom the employees are allowed in order to think, to try out their ideas, and to spend time on doing projects they care about. It is not a viable option for most companies with limited budgets and limited resources, but it is possible to offer it on a smaller scale. Give your employees some space and freedom to show off their creativity, to display their passion for projects, and often that would translate into more engaged and more loyal employees than mere financial bonuses.
Millennials are in some ways easy to please. They appreciate honest, straight-forward approaches to work rather than rigid rules. Tell them what outcome you need from them, and then let them get on with it. As an employer, millennials are the generation you now have to woo in order to retain employees for the next several years, or even a decade or two. Focusing on the above values would put you higher on their radar than many of your competitors.