Millennials aren’t like everyone else. They’re the largest generation in the labor force — 56 million strong, says Pew Research. They’re also most likely to hop from one job to the next — three times more likely to change jobs than non-millennials, according to Gallup. To convince them to join your firm and stay there, you need to play by their rules.
Based on our company’s growing percentage of millennial employees, conversations with clients about what works for them and helping manage campaigns targeting this demographic, here are five millennial rules to keep in mind:
1. Mind your values.
A generous paycheck and a fast track to promotion alone isn’t enough to attract and keep millennials. They want to work for companies that align with their personal values. One study found that 75% of millennial respondents said they’d be willing to take a pay cut to work for a company that’s environmentally responsible.
Make sure your website shows signs that you live your corporate values. For example, our company uses the Careers section of our site to list not only what jobs are available, but to show prospective employees what our agency stands for.
2. Be authentic and transparent.
Don’t sell a dream. Speak with authenticity and transparency. You’re dealing with a generation that is less trustful of businesses than the generations before them. According to a 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey, “Millennials’ opinions about business’ motivations and ethics, which had trended up the past two years, took a sharp turn downward. There continues to be a stark mismatch between what millennials believe responsible businesses should achieve and what they perceive businesses’ actual priorities to be.”
Some companies are always going to have a coolness factor about them that makes job seekers, even millennials, look at them through rose-colored lenses. But for the vast majority of businesses, it’s important to be candid with millennials about what it’s like to work for you and how your company acts as a responsible corporate citizen.
One of our clients, which places a premium on hiring millennials, has an exceptionally rigorous and lengthy employee intake process. To set expectations with potential hires and be more transparent, we worked with the client to publish personal testimonials from employees who described what the job interview process is like and what employees can expect just to get hired. When you put in additional effort upfront, you improve your chances of keeping your people.
3. Invest in their growth.
Millennials want to grow on the job, and that doesn’t necessarily mean they want promises of a promotion. Investing in their skill sets is going to resonate far more than dangling the promise of a more prestigious title and more pay in front of them. In fact, according to a recent survey of millennials, training is the No. 1 factor that millennials consider when starting a job. I know from personal experience. As CEO, I visit all of our offices regularly and make it a point to talk with as many employees face to face as I can. Whenever I ask employees, “What do you want next in your career?” the answer among our millennial employees is almost always, “I want to grow my skills. I want to learn,” not “I want more money.”
Businesses need to tell the stories of how they invest in their people wherever they can, and those stories are most powerful when told by employees themselves, such as through testimonials. If you offer educational programs to enrich your employees’ skills or time off for personal learning, make those advantages known.
4. Give them a chance to make an impact.
Millennials want to make an impact both on and off the job. Providing paid volunteer time off resonates with millennials because it fulfills their need to make a difference. (Salesforce offers 56 hours of paid volunteer time off annually.) Millennials also seek opportunities to make a difference with their co-workers on the job, such as through giveback programs, where businesses do community service projects. According to a report, 75% of the millennials surveyed “preferred to perform cause work with groups of fellow employees as opposed to doing independent service projects.”
Millennials also want to know how their work has an impact on their employer beyond doing good for society. So, show them how they can have an impact on your company. Give them the opportunity to make a difference in your business, and celebrate them when they do.
One of our clients, a high-end fashion retailer, began to offer more affordable wedding dresses after an employee monitoring their socials noticed that their followers were looking for lower-cost alternatives to wedding gowns. Empowering your employees to make a difference is always a good idea, but this is especially true for millennials, who value impact as its own reward.
5. Have a digital dialogue.
Campus outreach and job fairs remain important for the personal touch, but millennials need to have dialogues with you online. And I don’t mean posting photos of your firm and video testimonials of your employees. Doing those things is important, but you’ll also need to have real conversations on digital, such as livestreaming conversations with your employees about your company and responding to them on your socials and website. The Careers section of your website should be a fountain of great information and dialogue with your business, and you’ll need to be active on every digital touch point they live on.
What You Should Do
How well do you abide by the millennial rules? There’s only one way to find out: Ask them. Interview them as part of your recruitment process. Survey your people regularly, and find out what’s working and what isn’t. From a marketing/communications standpoint, audit your digital channels for attributes such as transparency, authenticity and consistency with the story you tell about your company beyond the Careers page. But above all, deliver on your words. Provide the kind of place that millennials will love.