Millennials are the hot topic of conversation in human resources departments today. This much talked-about but little-understood new generation is coming into its own in the workforce and will soon represent more than half of all U.S. employees. As baby boomers continue to retire, companies are facing the challenge of attracting and retaining millennials to replenish their ranks. With this backdrop, understanding the kind of corporate culture millennials desire and the forces that motivate them is key. But when you dig a little deeper, you will find that many of the same forces that motivate millennials also have a broader positive impact on your entire workforce, no matter their generation or demographic.
Millennials aren't as different as you think
There's been a lot of talk about how millennials are different from other generations, but the latest studies show that may not really be the case. The differences between the older and younger generations have more to do with age and life stages than with the different generational experiences they had growing up.
Millennials share many of the same long-term career goals as older workers. These include making a positive impact on their organization, helping to solve social and environmental problems, and working with diverse people. They also want to work with the best, be passionate, develop expertise and leadership capabilities, and achieve both financial security and work–life balance. In fact, only a few percentage points separate the number of millennials, gen-Xers, and baby boomers who claim these as their top goals.
That doesn't mean that companies don't need to adjust and evolve to attract and retain millennials; it just means that the changes they make will resonate with, and increase employee engagement among, all their employees, not just the youngest. And while there are technology solutions that can help you in this area, technology alone won't compensate for a corporate culture that doesn't focus on showing workers true appreciation.
What you can do to get started
If you're a business looking to boost millennial appeal and improve overall employee engagement, consider making the following changes:
- Emphasize a broader purpose. Create excitement around the company's mission and purpose by connecting to broader social causes and cultural movements.
- Encourage collaboration. Break down silos and encourage collaboration between diverse teams across your organization. Use team-building activities to help employees get to know each other and build interdepartmental connections.
- Provide frequent feedback. Recognize contributions. Encourage employees to develop their skills and expertise by providing with training opportunities along with frequent feedback. Create a culture that recognizes and rewards achievements.
- Provide opportunity. Look for employees who are ready to take leadership positions and give them the chance to show what they can do. Hire and promote from within rather than bringing in outside experts.
- Reward and recognize. According to the “Happy Millennials” Employee Happiness Survey, 64% of millennials want to be recognized for personal accomplishments, but 39% of them report that their companies don’t offer any rewards or recognition. Show employees you appreciate and value their hard work by recognizing and rewarding their efforts and achievements.
Getting the most out of millennials and other generations in your workforce requires creating a culture that encourages, supports and rewards success. When you do this it will have positive ripple effect across your entire organization, regardless of generation. Download our e-book, “The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition, and learn how to use rewards and recognition to engage and motivate all your employees.