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Meet the Millennials: Tips for working with the next generation

By Diane Thielfoldt

Millennials (born 1977 – 1998) are tech savvy, entrepreneurial, inclusive and goal oriented. They are passionate about the environment and social issues.  They are not afraid of hard work and long hours. They like social interactions. They want leadership and structure. They are motivated to achieve well defined goals. Millennials want job fulfillment, positive culture, interesting work and new skills. They want a career that actually matters – meaning is the new money.

The challenge for business leaders today is harnessing the talent and drive of the younger workforce.  In 2014 Millennials will be 36% of the U.S. workforce and 46% by 2020.

Recruiting Millennials

Shape recruitment messages to reflect desirable benefits like advancement opportunities, a great corporate culture and a flexible work environment.  Ask yourself: “Do we appreciate the benefits of employees who wish to develop a broad skill set?”

  • Offer workplace flexibility – flexible hours and generous telework policies are more important to younger workers than salary. Offer more control over when and where they work.
  • Promote continuous learning, growth and development
  • Offer career coaches and mentors
  • Messages that matter:
    • “You will make a difference working here.”
    • “You can use your networks and eagerness to collaborate with others to advance the company’s business goals (and your own.)”
    • “The work is challenging and stimulating.”
  • Highlight technology
  • Communicate the company’s mission and values. Millennials want to work for an organization that is making a difference.
  • Explain how the candidate can make a positive difference in the world if they join your organization.
  • Let them know exactly what you are looking for and what you need / expect
  • 82% of Millennials are willing to relocate.   Don’t write off candidates who aren’t local and don’t limit recruitment efforts to local area. 

Retaining Millennials

Millennials will stay if they see opportunities for advancement, valuing job satisfaction over salary as their main motivation for staying in a job.  Continuous development plans and clear career-path options can allow them to see their place in your organization.

Don’t let Millennials get bored; they bore quickly. And while it’s not your job to entertain them, if you want them to produce great work and want to retain them as employees, its best to make sure they’re not stuck in work ruts.

  • Allow time at work to pursue creative projects – Millennials crave the chance to contribute creatively
  • Offer feedback and recognition.  Let them know exactly what you are looking for and what you need/expect. Point out what is good about their performance.
  • Listen to your Millennials.
  • Help them grow professionally and create customized career paths
  • Create opportunities for job movement and job redesign.
  • Create a work culture that engages with a fun environment.
  • Provide direct access to managers and senior leaders.
  • Work in teams.
  • Communication – in person and email, IM, text message.
  • Involve in strategy and decision making.
  • Show appreciation.
  • Recognize things that impact the company.
  • Recognize the importance of family life.
  • Encourage (and support) community service.

Thielfoldt is co-founder of The Learning Café, a consulting firm dedicated to helping organizations develop, engage, and retain the talent of every generation. An accomplished workshop facilitator and engaging speaker, Thielfoldt has educated hundreds of managers on issues involving the multigenerational workplace. Reach her at TLC@TheLearningCafe.net.

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