As I was driving towards San Francisco last weekend, I saw a Prudential billboard that read, ‘Millennials don’t want your company’s granola bars anymore, they want a good 401k plan’.
I chuckled to myself, and applauded their marketing efforts as it addresses a constant question in today’s labor market: how do you attract and engage Millennial team members?
It’s no surprise that Millennials are omnipresent in today’s workforce. In fact, more than one-in-three American labor force participants (35%) are Millennials. As of 2017, 56 million Millennials were working or looking for work. Millennials are here, they’re ready to work, and they’re shaking up the way the world does business (whether that’s a good thing or not, I’ll let you decide).
Let me establish one thing before we get into the minutia of engaging Millennials: the basis for any engaged team member is a livable wage and benefits. I think we can all agree that it is something that’s prioritized amongst every age range. But once that’s established, what can you do to keep your Millennial employees engaged?
What gives me the right to tell you how to engage Millennial team members? Well, it just so happens that I am a 27-year-old Millennial worker myself. Based on my personal experience and that of my fellow Millennial comrades, I have a few tips for keeping us happy, engaged, and productive.
With the rise of the ‘Silicon Valley-ESC’ workplaces, company cultures in all sectors have started to follow suit in attempting to keep Millennials happy with stocked pantries, ping pong tables, and after-works. While this is all fun and a nice bonus, it’s only that--a bonus.
The best way to keep Millennials engaged is to prioritize flexibility. What does flexibility mean? Well, that, of course, varies depending on the type of company and sector, but if there’s any wiggle room in regard to working hours, time off, type of work environment (working from home, for example), offer that to your team members in any capacity that you can.
The happiest and most engaged workers I know can easily go to their dentist's appointment or leave early on Thursdays because their child has a soccer game, for example.
I know it's not always possible, and it varies greatly depending on the type of work, but granting flexibility establishes a level a trust of that’s innumerable.
Speaking of trust, it is a core necessity for keeping Millennials productive and loyal. I understand that team members need to earn trust; I’m not asking for any free rides. But, once that trust has been earned, let your Millennial team members spread their wings.
Micromanaging is one of the biggest complaints amongst Millennial workers. Trust leads to collaborative and respectful work environments that consequently, fuel productivity.
As a good rule of thumb, if you don’t trust your team members, you probably need to rethink your type of company culture anyway.
Is working from home becoming the office of the future—YES! I encourage you to ask any Millennial if they would prefer to work from home and I can almost guarantee you that many of them will say yes. Working from home feeds right into flexibility and trust.
Working from 'home' is opening up a world (literally) of possibilities, as employees are not necessarily confined to a specific geographic location anymore. This is a HUGE perk for Millennials and something that will absolutely keep Millennials around.
In fact, because Michael Management's CEO is on the 'work from anywhere' train, I'm able to travel all over the world for the next few months. I'll be working from Airbnb rentals in Costa Rica, Panama, Aruba, etc., and maintaining my job. If that is something you can offer your team members, DO IT. It will be a sure-fire way to attract and keep Millennial employees and set you apart.
Working from home fuels a higher level of productivity keeps company costs down, saves team members both commuter time and money, and creates a strong team bond.
In fact, a recent study found that the number of people who cannot concentrate at their desk has increased by 16 percent since 2008. Though it may seem counterintuitive, working from home is definitely a way to fuel your Millennial team’s productivity.
Overall, if you can, just say yes to working from home (or preferably, anywhere), and I promise your team members will be more engaged and present.
The stereotype rings true-- Millennials are prioritizing their health, both in terms of physical and mental well-being. Show your Millennial team members that you support a healthy lifestyle.
There’s an array of different ways you can promote health; for example, you can subsidize exercise memberships, give your team members a stipend for produce boxes, engage your team members in a healthy living challenge, offer mental-health PTO days. In general, let your Millennial team know that you care about their well-being.
In April, the Michael Management team participated in the Whole Life Challenge. Our CEO, Thomas Michael, covered the cost, and we all were able to participate in the challenge together. We came up with a team name (Another One Bites the Crust) and helped each other reach our health goals. It accomplished both team building, and support for healthy living at the same time.
While working with Millennial team members, remember that we were brought up in the Twitter generation. I’m not suggesting this a good thing, but it’s the reality. With smartphones, Buzzfeed-ESC type of articles, micro-learning and social media, we are doomed when it comes to our attention span.
This concept carries over into meetings as well. Keep them short, sweet, to the point, and only when necessary.
Millennials grew up with online learning, and we are used to having a plethora of information at our fingertips.
Instead of making us sit in hours and hours of training, promote constant learning with online training. Showing your team that you care about improving their skills (both professional and soft), is a guaranteed way to keep Millennial team members engaged.
Again, keep it short and sweet. If I need to learn something for work, I would much rather engage in online training at my own leisure instead of sitting through a mandated in-person seminar.
For example, when I started working at Michael Management, I was able to learn everything I needed to know about my new role with self-paced online SAP training. It may be called lazy, but I just think it’s more efficient… and your Millennial team members do too.
At the end of the day, regardless of age, all of these ideas to keep Millennials engaged stem from respect.
Flexible options stem from a level of trust, which comes from a respectful and honest professional relationship.
I’m not a workplace guru, I’m merely a Millennial fish in the working sea. But I promise you will garnish unprecedented amounts of engagement from your team by implementing these values into your company culture. Give it a whirl, and let me know how it goes!