The millennial generation is having a huge influence on today’s marketplace. Workers born between 1982 and 2000 already constitute nearly 35% of all American employees, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (1) That many jobs means you’ve likely done your fair share of millennial hiring already. And you can expect it to continue as more of this cohort enters the job market.
Because they’ll be claiming an ever-larger share of the labor pool in the coming years, your company needs to know what makes millennials tick, how to welcome them onto your team, and how to keep them around for the long run.
Qualities of Millennials
First let’s explore some of the qualities and values workers from this generation bring to the companies who employ them.
They’re Looking for Growth Opportunities
If you were to try and guess the top priority for millennial job seekers (or any candidates), you’d probably think that they’re concerned with competitive salaries. Though large paychecks are undoubtedly attractive to younger workers, PricewaterhouseCoopers found that the opportunity to advance their careers was the most important factor in choosing where to work—52% called it “the main attraction,” compared with 44% who mentioned pay. (2)
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You can expect to see a lot of ambition from workers in this generation. Don’t be surprised if they ask early and often about opportunities to progress at your company. If you look at their wish to rise as a strength, you can use it to find the next generation of leaders in your organization.
If You Train Them, They Will Come
Most business leaders today are searching for ways to engage and retain employees apart from salary, and their approach to millennials is no exception. This trend ties in well with the value millennials place on personal and career advancement. When asked to list the most attractive benefits of a potential employer, younger workers in the same PwC survey named “training and development” as the best. Coming in a close second was “flexible working hours.” Both of these benefits indicate a generation who place continuous learning and growth over the third-ranked “cash bonuses.” (3)
Because of their high level of comfort with digital media, millennials thrive in a range of the most popular learning formats. They will appreciate online platforms, webinars and even interactive games.
Many workers in this group also take well to mentoring from older employees. But forget about offering them training in a lecture-style setup—they strongly prefer to interact with mentors in smaller groups or even one on one.
They Like Frequent Feedback
Millennials need to hear how they’re doing on the job as often as possible, and they place high value on clearly defined job targets.
Fifty-one percent of respondents to the PwC study said they would welcome “frequent or continual feedback” on their job performance, with just 1% saying it was irrelevant to them. (4) Respondents also emphasized a desire for detailed explanations, so be prepared to spell out what they’re doing right or wrong and why.
Bottom line: millennials want to grow in your company, they value the training you can offer them, and they welcome your advice and opinions.
Once you’ve added millennials to your workforce, another question arises—how can you keep them around? If you haven’t noticed yet, the tried-and-true model of joining one company and working there for life is disappearing, especially for this generation. Many younger workers see greener grass everywhere and are on a perpetual hunt for the absolute dream job.
Here are a few practical steps you can take to fight the churn and encourage valuable millennial team members to stick around.
Share Your Purpose
As millennials launch their careers, they’ve proven to be a generation concerned with how their employers fit into the larger community. Forbes.com reported in 2017 that 93% of millennials want to align their career paths with their personal values. (5) These workers aren’t just breadwinning—they’re hoping to make the world a better place through the work they do. So there’s never been a better group of employees to share your mission with.
And in addition to learning about your company’s exact purpose in business, Millennials also appreciate the chance to live that purpose out. Which leads to the next retention tip.
Let Them Serve
Just as we learned when discussing what makes millennials tick , this generation isn’t just chasing a paycheck. Encouraging them to take time off or even paying them to pursue community service actions will gain their loyalty to your company. Time off to do volunteer work is not only more meaningful to your younger team members than salary figures, it also comes at a lower cost to you.
Cultivate Their Connection to Your Company
Though meaningful work matters more to Millennials than compensation, that doesn’t mean they have no personal ambitions connected to their careers. Appealing to this millennial value is another great way to keep their interest in your company high. Here are a few ideas:
- Invite industry leaders to speak to your team.
- Hold skill-specific workshops.
- Host panel discussions led by managers and aimed at workers who want to grow.
These are win-win propositions—you get to pour into your younger employees, and they see your company’s commitment to their development.
Stay in Touch
If you want to keep millennials around, it’s essential that you tell them so on a regular basis. They really want your encouragement, and what you think of their performance matters a lot to them.
Sound too obvious to be true? It’s a fact. Reared on relentless social media, this age group wants to be noticed, and they crave regular feedback on how they’re doing. So verbalize it, email it, and declare it in social channels. A “Good job!” face to face, thank-you cards or spontaneous public praise are all sure to be appreciated.
Millennials and Financial Wellness
One of the keys to helping millennials thrive in your company is to recognize where they stand financially.
A 2017 report from PricewaterhouseCoopers showed millennial workers are a group beset with money troubles. Forty-one percent find it difficult to make ends meet each month. (2) The same report indicates some of the reasons why:
- 70% consistently carry balances on credit cards
- Nearly half use credit cards for monthly expenses out of necessity
- Two out of every five carry student loan debt
- Among those with school loans, 83% agree such debt has a moderate or significant impact on their ability to meet financial goals.
What does all of the financial stress add up to for your millennial workers? In a word, it’s shredding their retirement prospects. The same survey reports nearly a third of all workers have already withdrawn money from retirement plans, and it’s usually done in order to cover a financial emergency. Among millennials, over half who have made retirement withdrawals say they did so because of unexpected expenses, while nearly a quarter did so to pay medical bills.
Clearly millennial workers are in trouble, and many are jeopardizing or entirely ignoring their long-term financial needs. In fact, new graduates and younger workers might just be the employees most in need of your help in building up real and lasting financial wellness as they get their careers off the ground.
It’s never too soon for anyone to think about the day they’ll retire. If anything, most American workers are waiting far too long to think ahead about retirement—and that definitely includes the new grads and millennials you employ.
Looking for some practical steps you can take to help your millennial team members begin to establish a solid financial foundation with retirement in mind? Get them engaged with these tips.
1. Help Lay a Basic Foundation
One reason that investing in a 401(k) may sound so farfetched to young workers is that many are either broke, financially uninformed or both. As crucial as retirement is to young workers, it’s definitely not the first step. Help them see where the long-term goal of retiring well fits in with the fundamentals of budgeting, debt elimination and emergency savings. By emphasizing the basics, younger workers will also grasp the need to plan their retirements.
2. Simpify Retirement Education
Investing gets an understandable (but undeserved) reputation as something mysterious and complicated, particularly among younger employees. But the “I could never invest” mindset is a myth you can and must dispel. By offering younger workers retirement education with a clear and simple explanation of how investing works, even younger workers will see a 401(k) as an achievable goal.
3. Make It Scalable
The further technology advances, the more young workers come to expect high-tech access to everything—including employee benefits. Retirement education will be a lot more accessible and interesting to new workers if they can find it online, in multimedia formats and available on any device.
4. Personalize the Program
Young workers care a lot about individuality, and they appreciate content that meets them where they are. Some may be ready to invest immediately, though many are also carrying high levels of student debt. Your retirement benefit should walk with young workers over time, providing them with helpful tools and information that’s specific to their developing financial situation.
Retirement doesn’t have to be a foreign concept to your company’s younger workers. Instead of letting them drift through their early career with no thought of the future, offer them a financial wellness program that can get them on the right track to a great retirement, starting right now!