There’s been a lot of buzz in recent years about the difficulty of hiring and retaining Generation Y Millennials, and many statistics prove this theory.
Millennials are notoriously difficult to retain, with an average job tenure of 1.5 years.
With this in mind, companies like Google and Netflix have gone to great lengths to keep their top millennial talent, such as providing free lunch and dinner (every day!) and unlimited vacation time.
However, as I've read emerging HR trends about how to hire and retain this elusive generation, such as Harvard Business Review’s idea of heavily involving parents in the recruiting process, I can’t help but think HR Thought Leaders aren’t consulting actual millennials about what kind of workplaces would attract and retain them. As a millennial myself, having developed from a job-seeking university student to a start-up employee, now working in the HR industry, here are my take-away strategies for companies looking to effectively recruit and retain members of Generation Y.
Meaningful and Interesting Work
My first job was an entry-level role at a high-tech startup. My role consisted of simple, entry-level tasks. However, it was infused with meaning because I was allowed to sit in on the product development meetings, was asked for my input on the company's future plans, and was given daily access to the CEO and CTO to pick their brains. This didn’t change the fact that I was in an entry-level, low-paying position. As an employer hoping to attract and retain millennials, oftentimes changing the job description or the salary isn't required. Instead, employers can change simple things like inviting your millennial employees to join your strategy sessions, asking them if they would be interested in contributing to the company’s social media presence, and generally giving them the inside track to feeling like an important part of the company.
I once worked for a marketing agency that ordered everyone lunch on Friday, and when 4:30pm hit, we would close the week by having a beer together, on the house. Here at TPD, we do everything from jogging around the beautiful Vancouver Seawall during departmental meetings, to celebratory monthly dinners for surpassing targets, and boardroom yoga sessions. These unique perks go a long way with Millennials, and they don’t have to be expensive (or have a price tag at all). Think beyond the office ping-pong table and beer Fridays to determine which unique, low-cost perks would engage and energize your team.
To return to my start-up days, we had an extremely flexible work schedule. We had to work 40 hours at any point in the week. Some people would take Friday off and work Sunday. Others would work a 10-hour day and sleep in the next morning. On a similar note, the company SoftwareAdvice encourages its employees to work remotely for one month of the year. This can be an innovative and affordable way for companies to offer extended travel benefits to their employees without productivity taking a dive in their absence. If your employees are required to take a sick day to accomplish a personal errand during your 9-5 office hours, you may find your company becomes a millennial-free zone.
Personal and Professional Development
Millennials want to grow, learn, get better, and be promoted. Not every company is able to have an aggressive hire-from-within structure, but every company is able to invest in its people. Send your millennials to conferences, let them have access to a corporate library, give them a monthly Kindle budget, or host free internal lunch-and-learns about something your employees actually care about. A millennial with an engaged mind is far less likely to stray.
Implementing some of these strategies will not only help you retain your millennial talent, but will create a culture buzz that will give you recruiting power with your employer brand. Make yourself tweetable, reachable on LinkedIn, and available in person. Ultimately, the more engaging you are as an employer, the more engaged your millennial employees will be.
Ryan Smith, Workforce Specialist