Millennials in the workplace. I seem to be inundated with articles, webinars and conference speakers discussing marketing to, or attracting, managing and retaining the millennial employee. Millennials as a class now exceed other generational workforce categories at 34.6%. That being said, however, the workforce is fairly evenly split today between Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y. With retirements and graduates increasing, this picture will change significantly by 2030, and is even more dramatic globally versus in the US.
I recently attended a McKonly & Asbury webinar which described characteristics of the different generations. I was impressed because I felt the presenters offered concrete steps to building a culture that would be attractive to recruiting and retaining millennials as part of the webinar.
A couple of suggestions from the session:
Communicate with Employees: Provide constant, clear communications; use short concise communications – think Twitter-style. Embrace a direct communication style – don’t dumb-down the message; use employee feedback to include making top-level leaders accessible.
Leverage technology: Millennials are comfortable with technology and want to work in an environment that leverages tools to encourage collaboration, provide for knowledge sharing, automate tasks and increase efficiency. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies can help. Work-arounds frustrate millennials – most phone apps do not have work-arounds.
Engage with your community: Blend a do-good motive with a profit motive. Showcase how the company gives back to the community on your website. Provide employees opportunities to volunteer during work hours. Aim for quarterly events where everyone can participate in a cause.
Encourage work-life balance: Ensure you have policies and technology which support telecommuting, flexible scheduling, video calling, information sharing and collaboration. Offer flexible social media and PTO time policies.
Provide a relaxed environment: A casual dress code creates a comfortable work environment. Adding periodic fun events which encourage employee participation creates a sense of community.
As the webinar proceeded, I found myself remarking “we do that” as each new slide appeared.
Andesa’s current workforce represents 40% millennials, 34% GenX and 26% baby boomers. But here’s a secret. We didn’t set out to build an environment to attract and recruit millennials. Andesa’s model begins with a culture which focuses on providing an environment which encourages and facilitates employees to develop and apply their business skills to the fullest. When you begin by creating and maintaining an environment which is employee-centric, it provides you the opportunity to attract and retain individuals of all generations.
I am impressed at how decision-making sessions at Andesa often assess the impact on culture and the employee environment. Building a culture to attract and retain employees is not a once-and-done type exercise. It is an ongoing quest. An employee-centric environment needs to be in the forefront of management’s thinking, constantly being evaluated and improved as the business grows, the external environment changes as new staff (and managers) join the team.
I would not suggest things are perfect at Andesa or that we offer every single bullet point on the list. Because of the rules and regulations under which we must operate, we need some control and discipline around policies not required by other industries; and, as such, the environment is not as free, open and flexible as I would perhaps enjoy. But I do find our Andesa work environment to be attractive no matter when you were born.
My recommendation: Don’t try to attract and retain millennials. Instead, start with the goal of building a work environment that provides the opportunity for any individual employee to contribute, grow and make a difference.