The question of how to create an office-culture that Millennials will love has always struck me as odd. Because, well, I am a Millennial, and I’ll tell you right now, I don’t look for anything unusual or outlandish in a company culture. I’m not searching for an office that has a pool table or a basketball hoop. I don’t need a pizza Friday or Bagel Tuesday. And I don’t think there is anything I could care less about than bean bag chairs (seriously, where did that misconception even come from?).
What I am looking for is an employer that values my ideas and my work, a job that gives me a little fulfillment, and a paycheck that I buy as much avocado toast as I want (has the horse been beaten to death yet?)
Anyway, you clicked on this post because you want to retain some of your Millennial employees or get some in the door at any rate. Being 23 and completely content with my office situation, I can help you out on this one. Follow these four tips, and you should be in pretty good shape when it comes to dealing with those pesky, needy, overly-entitled, tech-obsessed twenty-somethings.
Step 1: Dispell Stereotypes
The first step to creating a culture that millennials will flock to is to dispell all Millennial stereotypes. Because, let’s face it, regardless of whether or not stereotypes hold any kernels of truth; they are silly/ridiculous/ludicrous—pick a negative adjective.
Literally five minutes ago one of my coworkers (who happens to be 40+ years of age), knocked a glass of water off a table sending it plummeting to a glassy death. Two Millennials immediately jumped into action grabbing a broom and paper towel to help with clean up. Everyone else in the office remained still.
Now, I know this isn’t the perfect example, but does that sound like the self-entitled, self-involved, selfie-taking breed of sub-human portrayed in the media? Not exactly.
There are lazy baby-boomers, lazy Gen-Xers, and lazy Millennials. There are hard working baby boomers, hard working Gen-Xers, and hard-working Millennials. There are people who always come in late, people who think they deserve more than they do, and people who can’t get off their damn phones, but none of those characteristics have anything to do with the generation an individual was born into.
So stop buying into generational stereotypes and start building an inclusive company.
Step 2: Recognize generational differences
While disposing of all generational stereotypes is a great idea, ignoring the differences between the generations is not. The time period in which someone was born can affect a lot of different things, including what motivates them, what they expect from an employer, and how they communicate.
For example, while Gen-Xers might find job fulfillment in the paychecks that help them provide for their families, millennials might find it in seeing how they are changing the world around them.
To give a less abstract example of generational differences: while technology is a part of a millennial’s everyday life and most have a general proficiency in using social media, Gen-Xers were not brought up with the same exposure to technology, and thus many do not hold the same skill.
If you want to cater to Millennials and build a successful business along the way, realize the differences between the generations your employees hold without acknowledging the stereotypes that upset them.
Step 3: Be employee focused
One of the core values here at Mindscape is accountability. We expect everyone here to do exactly what they say they are going to do. That is a given rule at any workplace, but highlighting it as one of our values has done two things for us:
- Allowed our employees to have open discussion with each other, providing relevant and helpful feedback
- Allowed the company to be flexible with employee schedules
Why am I telling you this? Because here, accountability is the same for everyone. If you need to leave the office early to pick up your child from school, that is completely fine—as long as you get your work done and keep your team informed. If you need to leave work early because you are going camping with a few friends, that is completely fine—as long as you get your work done and keep your team informed.
Are you following? Being family focused is something all business should be. But being employee focused? Even better.
Every single one of your employees has a life outside of work. It doesn’t matter if that life is filled with two children and a spouse, or a cat and intramural soccer league, if you want to retain millennial employees, you will respect both lifestyles and be flexible with everyone.
4. Care, support, understand
Now, don’t go and misinterpret this headline. Millennials don’t need to be coddled. But like every other one of your employees, they do want to feel supported, understood, and valued—especially younger millennials. While your 35 and 36-year-olds may be content taking home a paycheck and supporting their families, younger millennials need a little more. They want to make a difference. They want to feel like they are helping your company and like you are helping them.
How do you give them what they’re looking for? Take a vested interest in your younger employees’ goals. Figure out what they want to do in life and help them achieve it. Allow them to sit in on important meetings so they can learn and grow. Hear their ideas and opinions. You hired them for some reason or another; you might as well see what they can do.
If you want to keep millennial employees around, it is simple. You just need to show them that you respect them as human beings as well as employees.