by Sarah K. White

6 ways to attract and retain millennial workers

May 21, 20155 mins
CareersIT JobsIT Leadership

For all the talk about millennial workers, many companies are still stymied when it comes to not just hiring millennials, but also retaining them. Here are 6 ways you can not only draw millennial workers to open positions, but also get them to stick around.rn

The way to find millennial workers and keep them isn’t through free bagels, a ping pong table or a keg in the kitchen. In fact, what millennials want from the workplace might not be so different than any other generation.

There’s a lot of dissent on the state of millennial employees, and it seems like every week a new study is released that contradicts a past study. However, here are six ways you can shape your business to make it millennial-friendly.

Offer competitive salary and growth opportunities

Millennials need to know that they are not only being fairly compensated, but that they have room to grow in the company. While past reports of job-hopping millennials may have been exaggerated, it’s still important to give your young employees a reason to stick around.

According to Cornell Professor of Management and Academic Director for the Center for Leadership Development at the Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business, Ron Piccolo, PhD, “when all of these perks are in balance, they’ll fiercely embrace your mission and goals.”

In a study by PWC on millennials in the work place, 44 percent of millennials polled noted competitive wages as a motivating factor to go with an employer, 52 percent cited growth opportunities. So if you want to make your company attractive to millennials, foster their ambition and drive.

Always maintain transparency

Millennials grew up with technology, which has created a culture of transparency. In a day when one tweet can take down an entire brand, millennials expect the company they work for to be upfront. In the information age, it’s hard enough for companies to hide things from the consumer, let alone their own employees.

Even if it’s unintentional, announcing decisions without any explanation might leave this generation uneasy. “Millennials are more engaged and committed when management shares why decisions are made,” says Piccolo.

Keeping an open atmosphere will foster trust and community among your millennial workers. As Inc. points out, millennials want to know how the company keeps the lights on to help them determine if they want to stay for the long haul.

Ditch the hierarchy

If your company has a traditional hierarchy, try “flattening your organizational structure,” as Piccolo puts it. You don’t have to go as far as Zappos and eliminate bosses entirely, but you should ensure that the millennials in your company feel they have a voice. Highlight their accomplishments and let them know you value their insight, which will motivate them to go above and beyond for your business.

If millennials see people getting promoted over others based on longevity with the company over performance, it could discourage them. At the very least, sit down with your millennial employees and help them better understand their overall career trajectory.

According to Forbes, millennials don’t want to wait three to five years for a promotion, contrary to their baby boomer coworkers. Offer training and visible step-by-step progress, allowing them to better understand the future of their career.

A new approach to mentorship

One staple of the millennial generation is that they want feedback, but it might be time to consider a different approach to the traditional mentor and mentee relationship. Just as millennials can learn from long-term employees, your business can learn just as much from them.

Piccolo says, “Management can equally benefit from this pairing when they use millennial employees to better understand how the business can strengthen its presence in the social media and digital space.” Some refer to this concept as reverse mentoring, which means a millennial is matched with a more senior worker, and shows them how to effectively utilize technology to leverage the company’s brand.

As Forbes puts it, “Whether it’s learning how to use a new operating system or navigating social media, reverse mentoring is a great way to use existing company resources to bolster tech savviness in senior colleagues.”

Make sure millennials feel connected to the brand

Millennials are a great resource to strengthen your brand, but only if they believe in the overall message of the company. Having happy millennials in the workplace can lead to a boost in your company’s social media presence.

As Piccolo says, “Millennials are a generation of storytellers and they’ll happily amplify the great things your business is doing through their own social media platforms.” Give your millennial employees a reason to share what your business is doing, and it can help you naturally boost your company’s social presence.

Strengthen the company’s digital presence

The first thing your prospective millennial employees will do before an interview is Google the company. If your business is lacking in digital presence, millennials might be wary about applying. It could imply that the business is behind the times or unwilling to evolve.

“Millennials expect digital relevancy,” says Piccolo. “Invest not only in how you engage clients and consumers online but prospective employees as well, so they have a strong understanding of your company’s mission and culture.”

In turn, bolstering a company’s social engagement might help increase brand loyalty among millennial consumers. According to Inc., 62-percent of millennials are more likely to become loyal to a company if they can engage with the brand on social media.

Final thoughts

It’s important to remember that there are just as many myths out there as there are facts about millennial workers. Ultimately, all employees want the same thing — fair compensation, flexibility and a mission statement they feel strongly about.