13 February 2015

How Millennial-friendly is your business?

With Millennials set to represent the majority of the workforce by 2025, what strategies should you implement to attract and retain them?

Stereotypes fly around when people discuss Millennials. A quick Google Image search gives you the lowdown on the characteristics often given to Generation Y – bright, talented, tech-savvy, social young things, who are often seen as slightly self-centred.

But Millennials – people born between the early ‘80s and noughties – are full of contradictions. And given they now range in age from late teens to early 30s, many of them are in, or about to enter, the workplace.

And they differ from previous generations. Studies by PewResearch and Nielsen suggest Generation Y is diverse, linked by social media, digitally native, don’t always obey work policies and want a more flexible working life.

As an employer, how can you feed these nuances into your strategies? How can you attract and retain the Millennial generation – and in turn benefit from their positive attributes?

The big picture
Millennials are set to account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025, according to the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, so now is the time to prepare for the impending influx of Generation Y workers.

Companies are actively creating workplace-flexibility programmes to cater to younger employees, as that’s what they’re demanding, with mobile working and more flexible hours gradually replacing the usual 9-to-5.

In fact, the traditional 8-hour workday could become the exception rather than the rule.

What’s more, Millennials have a different set of beliefs and values that drive their behaviour in the workplace.

For instance, Achievers has found that 80% of Generation Y prefer on-the-spot recognition to more formal appraisals while research from Bentley University highlights how 84% say helping to make a positive difference in the world is more important than professional recognition.

Furthermore, a study by Badgeville reveals 71% sometimes ignore official workplace rules on social media.

Become ‘Millennial-proof’
The findings listed above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Millennials in the workplace. You therefore need to Millennial-proof your business to ensure you can attract and keep Generation Y workers.

One way of doing this is to encourage creativity among your employees, letting them come to you with their business ideas. Implementing the best ones where you see fit will help your staff feel valued. 

Being open to flexible working policies, including telecommuting, is one of the most effective ways to keep Millennials on board, while investing in corporate social responsibility, such as environmental sustainability programmes and social welfare initiatives, is another tried and tested method to ensure Generation Y workers remain on-side.

Assessing your reward and appraisal structure is another way to go about it. Give credit where credit is due. But don’t wait for a formal review to offer praise, dish it out as and when employees do good things.

Embracing tech trends like bring-your-own-device also helps. Millennials love their modern devices – smartphones, tablets etc – rarely leaving home without them, so let staff use them for work purposes. 

Whatever you do, make sure you keep Generation Y in mind. After all, these ‘digital natives’ are the future of the business world.

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