We’re used to talking about the millennial generation as the fresh young things whose exciting outlook is shaking up the world of business. But the reality is that a decade and a half has passed since we watched all those zeroes line up on our calendars, and the millennial generation is growing up.
Millennials generation have made their mark through the different outlook and expectations they bring to work. So the question is, are you for when those expectations meet the life changes of middle age?
The past twenty years have seen a lot of talk, and even some action, on achieving a work/life balance for working parents. It’s not long since flexibility and the freedom to achieve that balance were aspirations we looked forward to, but by now they’ve become such a common talking point that this isn’t just something millennials want – it’s something they expect.
So how can you achieve that? Working from home is clearly going to be central – it’s something 92% of millennials want. Letting people adapt their hours also helps, both in creating flexible shift patterns and in allowing varying degrees of part time work to suit different needs. It’s better to have great talent on hand for 80% of the time than to see it leave you entirely.
Millennials have hit the job market in the aftermath of the end of jobs for life. They aren’t looking for stability as their parents did, but for opportunities. 74% of Americans polled said they were looking for new jobs, while 35% began planning their next move within weeks of starting a new job.
Under the circumstances, we can’t rely on habit to ensure that millennials stay with us as they grow older – we need to work on positively engaging them with our work and planning retention strategies. Think about fostering a talent community, a group of candidates with whom you have a two-way dialogue to see how well they could fit with your company, and for whom your aim is less to fill a position than to add lasting, dedicated talent to your pool. Build your brand to attract, engage and retain the sort of people you want – millennials are used to processing the world in terms of brand identity, and expect to be engaged in this way. So make sure that your brand purpose is clear, engaging and appealing.
It’s not enough to think about how you get your message across to millennials. This is a generation that expects to have its voice heard, and you need to enter into a meaningful two-way dialogue with these employees and potential employees, about what they want from you now and what they want in the future. Take into account how they want to be seen and what they want to achieve, both by reading the research in this area and by talking with your employees. If they know that you will listen then they are more likely to speak up about what they want, rather than following it to another company.
Not Just for Millennials
It might sound like I’m telling you to build your business around a small group of employees, but this isn’t just about millennials. Though they are more outspoken about what they want, the things they expect will please other employees as well. Freedom in how we working; knowing that we are listened to; being treated as part of a valuable community of talent – these are things that would please any of us.
Adapting to the millennials as they grow up won’t just make your company a better place for them – it will make it better for all your employees, and help to build a business that lasts.