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How to Recruit and Retain More Millennials

The modern workplace is experiencing a tectonic shift. For the first time in history, we have five generations in the workplace at the same time. Employees from Traditionalists, born before 1946, to Generation Z, born after 1997, are all working together to power today’s organization.

According to Pew Research, as of 2017, millennials are now the largest generation in the workplace. By 2025, 75 percent of the global marketplace will be Millennials. Some of your hiring managers may be millennials, but chances are also good they aren’t.

So how do companies get better at recruiting millennials? And once you’ve hired them, how do you retain them?

Let’s look at the most effective ways to recruit and retain more millennials.

Improve your culture

Millennials value corporate culture more than any prior generation in the workforce. Millennials are willing to give up annual compensation—up to $7,600 per year—to work at a company with a better culture. That differs from other generations where salary and benefits have been the driving factors for deciding whether to accept a job offer.

So what do millennials value about corporate culture? Believe me, it’s not just about a cappuccino maker and free snacks . . . (although who doesn’t like a little pick-me-up mid-afternoon?)

Millennials will look at your diversity and inclusion when determining whether to accept your job offer. Diverse and inclusive workplaces lead to better ideas and innovation, better employee retention, and better profits. It also fosters more trust among employees and increased problem-solving.

To millennials, diversity is not just about race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and physical ability. It’s also about mixing up varying backgrounds, ideas, opinions, and identities. Millennials want a collaborative environment where people with different opinions, ideas, and perspectives can work together for the greater good of the organization.

Additionally, millennials will observe your actual work-life balance. In past years, saying that your organization had work-life balance was for the most part baseless. Success has been a juggling act. Millennials grew up watching this juggling act, and they are demanding a healthy work-life balance.

Millennials want to work for an organization that prioritizes the happiness and the health of its workers. And they’re willing to sacrifice compensation for it. Work-life balance could include company-sponsored gym memberships, flexible schedules, working from home, or helping with child care.

Demands that employees work at their desks from morning to night have gone by the wayside. Having a positive culture helps everyone - millennials are just the first generation that is demanding it. A great corporate culture will not only get millennials in your door as new employees, but it will also help retain them.

Offer professional development

Millennials are more likely than Baby Boomers or Generation X to say that jobs that accelerate their learning and development are “very” important to them, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace. Millennials not only want to grow professionally, but also individually. By continuing to develop professionally and personally, millennials will increase their own value within your organization. If you don’t have a developed corporate learning and development program, you’re behind the eight ball.

To ensure that you can attract and retain Millennials, be sure to highlight your learning and development opportunities. Let your prospective employees know how you deliver your professional development, whether it’s through longer computer programs, or through microlearning on laptops, pads, or smartphones.

Understand how millennials learn best and structure your development program accordingly. For example, if you are still using old-fashioned teaching modules, such as all-day seminars in a conference room, you’re going to lose your millennial audience. Learn how to introduce technology, interaction, and gamification into your professional training modules. Use analytics to track your employees’ interactions. Monitor the modules continually so you’ll know when to make changes or add (or delete) training. And don’t forget to get feedback from your employees.

Millennials have been raised in a fast-paced learning environment where they can get answers to their questions by a simple Internet search. By having a robust professional learning and development program, your prospective millennial employees will become attracted to you as an employer.

Help employees develop career paths

Learning and development directly helps millennials define their career paths. Make investments in your millennial employees by coaching or mentoring them to take ownership of their careers and to define their career paths.

Help them define their strengths and competencies. Encourage them to take their professional development into their own hands. They need to be in charge of their future. Employers need to stay in the role of coach or mentor, not delegator.

Create roles for your employees that fit their strengths. You want your millennial employees (and frankly all of your employees) to take pride in their work and performance as well as leverage their innate talents. Develop accountability goals with your employees and allow them to take ownership of their career paths.

By actively encouraging your employees along their career paths, you’re creating employees who are loyal and dedicated to the company and who are becoming brand ambassadors. Loyal, involved employees are happy employees. Happy employees stay at their jobs longer than unhappy employees.

Developing your employees, through training or helping define their career path, creates employees who are continuously learning and refining their skills, which helps them directly and contributes to your company. You’re also contributing to your retention of your millennial employees. Good all the way around.

Demonstrate corporate social responsibility

Seventy percent of millennials are willing to work for organizations that support causes that they care about. Enter corporate social responsibility. Although millennials support many different causes, there’s one common thread. As a generation, a majority of millennials want to give back to the community, whether it’s local or global.

Creating corporate social responsibility programs doesn’t have to be a major undertaking, either. You can have your employees participate in a 5K for breast cancer research or donate at the local food bank. Ask your current employees, especially your millennials, what they're interested in socially. Get them involved in the decision making process.

Showcase your organization’s involvement internally, through email, at team meetings, or through the company newsletter. Also, send out posts of your involvement on social media, and encourage your current employees to like and share. Prospective employees will start associating your company with its social involvement. You’ll become an employer of choice!

Reward employees for referring job candidates

When attracting millennials to your organization as prospective employees, look no further than your current employees. Employee referrals are the number one source of hire by volume. And referred workers have higher productivity, lower turnover, and lower screening costs. Your current millennial employees could already be connected to your next rising star.

So how do you convince your employees to refer prospective employees to you?

Establish a fantastic employee referral program. Make sure that everyone understands the parameters around the referral program. What are the rules? When do people get incentives? Are all incentives the same? Are all referrals treated the same?

Reward your employees for referring candidates during the hiring process as opposed to when their referral leads to a hire. Give a little swag here and there. Give some extra time off. The hiring process can be lengthy - rewarding as you go along will encourage employees to keep referring.

Adapt a different way of recruiting

If you have an outstanding culture, you offer professional development, and you demonstrate corporate social responsibility, your millennial employees are going to want to sing your praises. They’ll want to refer their friends and acquaintances to your organization for job opportunities. After all, the best brand ambassadors are your current employees. And on the flip side, those happy millennials that are referring, they’ll probably stay awhile too.

The workplace is shifting and millennials can be credited with much of this shift. If anything, we’ll continue to see vast change in companies over the next several years. Millennials approach their jobs and careers with a different set of expectations. They want to learn and develop, both professionally and personally. They want to understand how their careers are going to grow. They want to have work-life balance (for real), and they want to have meaning and life purpose in their careers, even if they have to sacrifice compensation to get it.

To attract and retain millennials, organizations need to adapt to a different way of recruiting. It’s a more holistic form of recruiting now. It’s more than one interview, a meet-and-greet, salary, benefits, and here’s your desk. Millennials want their career to fit their life and their life to fit their career. It’s a blending of worlds.

It’s time to change how we hire.

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