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Updated Nov 02, 2023

How Companies Can Change Their Culture to Attract (and Retain) Millennials

Do you want more millennials to join and remain loyal to your company? Here's how to recruit and keep this age group.

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Sean Peek, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
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Millennials comprise 35 percent of the modern workforce, but not all companies are concerned with adapting their culture to attract and maintain millennial employees. According to Gallup, this turnover is costing the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.

Businesses should consider what current and future workers expect from their employers today. Here’s what you should know to attract and retain millennials.

What employers should know about millennials

Millennials, or those born between 1981 and 1996, have some specific intricacies across the range of their population. To determine the best ways to attract and retain this critical generation of employees, employers must first understand who these employees are and their motivations. 

1. They aren’t that different from other generations.

While society often labels millennials as whiny and lazy, demanding far too much and offering the bare minimum in return, statistics show otherwise.

According to research by Robert Half, millennials want benefits that reflect their core values: a competitive salary that remains fair and true to their work, clear expectations on job responsibilities, and the ability to cultivate a healthy work-life balance.

“Millennial workers can be described as pragmatists,” said Brett Good, senior district president for Robert Half. “Having grown up during a time of economic instability, more than any generation since the Great Depression, they crave both financial and workplace security. Specifically, they seek fair compensation and ample benefits, including healthcare coverage.”

2. They prefer a flexible work schedule and remote work opportunities.

Flexible schedules and hybrid or remote work opportunities have become an expectation for many millennial employees. Though remote work seemed like an idyllic dream years ago, the pandemic ushered in the ideal millennial work environment almost overnight. Many companies have since attempted to return to in-person work. However, progressive organizations with a finger on the pulse of their employees – especially those in industries where a full-time remote job makes sense – have stuck with the “new normal” by offering hybrid or flexible work schedules at the very least.

According to Gallup, millennials not only prefer to work in remote settings, but they thrive in it. A whopping 54 percent have “thriving” well-being compared to their on-site counterparts. Remote and hybrid work environments give millennials the flexibility they’re looking for in their schedule to take care of their parents, significant others, pets or children; cater to other life needs; and get their work done quickly and efficiently. Companies that use helpful communication, video conferencing and project management tools build an increasingly agile and productive remote millennial workforce.

“Millennials like the freedom to accomplish their tasks, but they also prefer to collaborate with their colleagues as a team,” said Good.

Within the confines of remote work, positive and healthy company culture is a must to make remote millennial employees successful. They want to work toward something with their team and know their work has value and meaning outside of providing for themselves. 

“Create a company culture where colleagues work together toward a meaningful goal and where team members’ voices can be heard,” added Adrián Ridner, co-founder and CEO of Study.com. “Provide opportunities for cross-training so employees can grow and work with other teams.”

FYIDid you know
Since remote work is more accessible today, many employees find themselves always on, constantly connected to their work email or available for business calls. A positive company culture that encourages work-life balance and flexibility will help millennials feel less pressure to meet these societal standards.

3. They value professional growth and development.

“This generation of employees [is] keen on career opportunities that provide career growth and development,” said Good. “They want to hit the ground running and seek to learn, contribute and develop their skills.”

Managing employees requires more than just delegating tasks and keeping tabs on assignments. Your job as a leader is to push your team to learn and gain confidence. You can do this by providing training, continued education, on-demand learning, job rotation opportunities and mentorship. [See how the top PEO services can help with training and development.]

“Millennials are driven and ambitious, and more of them will start moving into leadership positions,” said Ridner. “Offer training that can help millennials develop their leadership and management skills.”

Ridner recommends short videos or access to current leaders as mentors rather than long sessions with monotonous instructors.

“The opportunity to learn and grow is key for millennials,” he said. “Offer opportunities for continuous learning, and give millennials the flexibility to try new things. Support them when they want to take risks. Give them the opportunity to test new things and learn from any failures.”

4. They want to make a difference.

For many millennials, a job is not just a salary; it’s a lifestyle. More employees are channeling their passions at work, focusing on emotional rewards rather than monetary incentives.

“First and foremost, be mission-driven,” said Ridner. “Millennials want to feel good about their work and make an impact on society at large. Highlight the way your company gives back at the forefront of your initial conversations with talent.”

If a millennial does not feel personally connected to their company, they likely won’t stick around, added Ridner. Retaining employees is as important as attracting them, so align your mission with your workers and create a platform for their voice.

5. They want a mobile-friendly hiring experience.

Given that millennials are known for using their phones for virtually everything, ensure your company is as mobile-friendly as possible. For instance, you want to make sure that your chosen career site is readable on smartphones. Many millennials prefer to search for and seek jobs in the midst of various other activities throughout the day, so many view these sites on the go. You may also opt to communicate with candidates via text, chats or emails, as these are all smartphone-friendly methods. [Find out how the best HR software can help you recruit and onboard new employees.]

How to attract millennial employees

As millennial employees shop for jobs, companies can stand out to this unique demographic in a few different ways. 

Organize outreach strategies. 

Organize outreach strategies that suit how millennials interact with companies and social media. Organizations can build a vibrant brand online and interact with consumers to demonstrate their value. When you have an opening for a position, post about it on your social media accounts. Those who follow will already feel a connection to your brand and mission. In addition, businesses should invest in mobile ads and optimize job postings to ensure the most accurate information is included.

Provide opportunities. 

Millennials begin looking for other jobs when they feel their company lacks resources, training or room to grow. To attract millennial employees, consider building a comprehensive job path, encourage cross-training in different business areas, and proactively offer learning opportunities and seminars to keep these employees engaged.

Invest in your company culture. 

Company culture should be a top priority for organizations committed to retaining millennial employees. Company culture includes work-life balance, top benefits, intrapersonal relationships, and how the organization puts its mission, vision and values into action.

Upgrade your technology.

Millennials were the first generation to grow up with the internet. They’re a tech-savvy group that works well in adopting new software and programs that automate work and communication. Ensure your business has an updated website, career portal and engaging social media presence to attract millennial workers. 

TipBottom line
Seamless job applications and a transparent hiring process are two great approaches to attracting millennials to your company.

How to retain millennial employees

The journey doesn’t end when you’ve hired an all-star millennial. You have to make sure you can keep them. It is essential to strategize ways to retain that employee, foster their growth and encourage them to suggest referrals to hire more millennials.

Support diversity.

Even before deciding to join a company, a significant portion of the millennial workforce researches organizations’ diversity, equity and inclusion policies. The authentic pursuit of a diverse workforce communicates an organization’s commitment to inclusivity, progressiveness and genuine care for its employees’ values.

Offer career growth opportunities.

When millennials discover they’ve plateaued in a role, they might search for “the next best thing.” To retain your top-performing millennial employees, create growth opportunities that benefit both the employee and the business. By investing in additional cross-training and development for your millennial employees, your business can explode with fresh perspectives, revenue-driving ideas and more.

Provide competitive salaries.

Work is work, and as much as millennials enjoy the fulfillment they receive from being passionate about their job, they also want to be fairly compensated for their work. Like career growth, millennials will pursue the best paycheck if it makes sense for their career and family. By providing a competitive salary, companies can keep their best millennial employees and foster upward growth in the organizational hierarchy.

Offer work flexibility.

Business-to-business industries, office jobs and other verticals that don’t serve customers in person have the unique opportunity to offer hybrid and fully remote work schedules to their millennial employees. In addition, hours flexibility remains a significant benefit for millennials, as the freedom to create their own schedule gives them the confidence and autonomy to produce their best work.

Be transparent.

A toxic environment where an organization doesn’t keep its promises to employees will lose millennial employees fast. Millennials value transparent communication and want to work for an honest company. Organizations have the opportunity to train managers and decision-makers in creating a transparent, open and inviting workplace that fosters honesty and breeds trust. 

author image
Sean Peek, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
Sean Peek co-founded and self-funded a small business that's grown to include more than a dozen dedicated team members. Over the years, he's become adept at navigating the intricacies of bootstrapping a new business, overseeing day-to-day operations, utilizing process automation to increase efficiencies and cut costs, and leading a small workforce. This journey has afforded him a profound understanding of the B2B landscape and the critical challenges business owners face as they start and grow their enterprises today. In addition to running his own business, Peek shares his firsthand experiences and vast knowledge to support fellow entrepreneurs, offering guidance on everything from business software to marketing strategies to HR management. In fact, his expertise has been featured in Entrepreneur, Inc. and Forbes and with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
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