According to the Pew Research Center’s analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, Millennials have officially surpassed Baby Boomers to become the largest generation in the workforce today.

So, if you are still running your business like a Boomer, or even a Gen Xer, it’s time to reexamine your thinking – and probably a dozen other things about your business that your Millennial employees don’t like.

The Millennial generation consists of anyone born between 1981 and 1996, according to Pew.  The major characteristics of this generation are that they are more educated and more electronic savvy than the generations before them. They like flexibility and are big on work-life balance.

Although easily stereotyped as young adults who can’t put down their smartphones, this generation is pushing for changes in the workforce that benefit all of us by helping us love our jobs more than ever before.

According to Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial Survey, 43 percent of Millennials envision leaving their jobs within two years; only 28 percent seek to stay beyond five years. Why? Because employers are missing a few great opportunities to retain and fulfill this generation’s workforce.

Here are the top five things your company needs to be focusing on to attract and retain Millennial employees.

 

  1. Flexibility.

Although we’ve all thought and dreamed about how nice it would be to work from home – or the coffee shop down the street, Millennials are the ones demanding some level of flexibility in their work schedules.

An NBC News story revealed that more than half of millennials would switch to a job that allowed them flextime and 37 percent would switch to a job that allows them to work off-site at least part of the time. Gallup research has repeatedly found that flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee’s decision about a job.

The article goes on to say that the optimal engagement boost among Millennials occurs when employees spend 60 to 80 percent of their time — or three to four days in a five-day workweek — working off-site.

This Inc. Magazine article sums it up by saying that Millennials want Freelance flexibility with full-time stability. Now it’s up to you to figure out how to make that happen.

 

  1. Company Values.

The 2018 Millennial Survey reported that companies and senior management teams that are most aligned with millennials in terms of purpose, culture, and professional development are likely to attract and retain the best young talent and, in turn, potentially achieve better financial performance. Loyalty must be earned, and the vast majority of millennials are prepared to move, and move quickly, for a better workplace experience.

This year’s survey shows a dramatic, negative shift in how millennials feel about the motivations and ethics of the businesses they work for. Respondents said they are disappointed that business leaders’ priorities don’t seem to align with their own. But, ethics and motivations do align, the perception is that those companies are more successful, have more stimulating work environments and do a better job of developing talent.

So take a minute to listen to your Millennial employees and make an effort to support their favorite charities. Rewrite your company’s mission statement to include active steps to bettering your community.

Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO of investment firm BlackRock, said in his annual address to CEOs that in order to prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers and the communities in which they operate.

 

  1. Transparency.

 According to CNN Money, transparency is the Millennial standard operating procedure in the workplace. A Department26 report stated that contrary to what people believe, Millennials aren’t afraid of criticism, but instead are actually looking for feedback.

The report shows Millennials want nearly constant feedback, which many organizations may not be prepared for. Working with younger employees means quieting their anxieties by providing transparency and a clearly articulated vision of what’s next, the report says.

Millennials’ opinions about the motivations and ethics of the business sector, which had trended up the past two years, took a sharp turn downward in the 2018 research. There appears to be a drastic difference between what millennials believe responsible companies should achieve and what they think businesses’ actual priorities are.

 

  1. Opportunities and Education.

 Today’s workforce is experiencing the fourth industrial revolution, which is transforming economies, jobs, and even society itself. Under the broad title Industry 4.0, many physical and digital technologies are combining through analytics, artificial intelligence, and cognitive technologies, to create digital enterprises that are both interconnected and capable of more informed decision-making.

Millennials recognize the importance of the looming technology, but say they don’t feel prepared to take advantage of it and the changes that will accompany it. Unlike previous generations, however, Millennials are looking to businesses instead of universities to take the lead in educating them.

Millennials express admiration for corporations that are adapting to and advancing Industry 4.0 and developing their people to succeed in this evolving business environment. Lacking confidence that they can succeed in an Industry 4.0 environment, Deloitte’s survey shows that young workers are looking to businesses to help them develop the necessary skills, including the “soft” skills they believe will be more important as jobs evolve.

 

  1. Communication.

Long gone are the days of a once-a-year performance review being acceptable communication. Millennials want to be engaged and feel a part of the conversation. Not just to be told everything they did right or wrong over the past year.

According to NBC News, what millennials seeks is ongoing feedback, clear goals and “collaborative goal setting,” which gives them a voice in setting performance expectations they see as fair, relevant and challenging.

A recent Gallup survey cites that “the process creates buy-in and helps employees define success in their roles. Accomplishing goals created with a manager feels all the more gratifying to employees because they are ‘our goals,’ not just ‘my goals’ or ‘your goals,’ and this shows in their engagement. While a mere 30 percent of employees strongly agree that their manager involves them in setting their goals at work, those who do strongly agree with this statement are 3.6 times more likely than other employees to be engaged.”

 

CONCLUSION

According to Department26 research, as millennials find their place at work, the companies that stand to benefit most from this generation will be those that acknowledge and embrace this generation’s unique challenges, expectations, and values.

“If anything’s certain, it’s that for all their shortcomings, millennials’ relentless drive for transparency will force more communication from leaders to the workforce, clarifying the future and strengthening the company’s position.”

— Betsy Wecker, Insights Director at Department26, a strategy firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio

 

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