Desperate to belong but fiercely independent, digitally connected but socially aloof, the millennial generation presents a conundrum that both marketers and businesses are desperately trying to figure out. This new generation of driven, educated and highly-skilled individuals is rapidly taking over the world’s workforce, iPads and hashtags in hand, forcing enterprises to reevaluate their value propositions and find new ways to break through the seemingly impenetrable force field that surrounds Generation Y.
Raised in the age of advertising and educated during the digital boom, millennials are equal parts savvy and cynical, and unwilling to settle for anything less than what they perceive to be their right to eternal happiness. Given these lofty expectations, job-hopping has become the norm, the days of long-term employment and retirement benefits now firmly relegated to the past.
As such, businesses have lost the upper hand in the recruitment game, and now have to work much harder to nab and keep the world’s brightest stars. Whereas in a previous era, throwing money at the problem might have solved it, this generation is much harder to buy. You see, millennials seek purpose over payouts, flexibility over financial stability– they believe that work should fit into their lives rather than the other way around. In short, engagement no longer comes with a price tag.
So how do you appeal to this new breed of employee, and foster the type of loyalty and engagement that ensures they don’t run off to your closest competitor after six months of “padding the CV”? Luckily, there are ways to make this “me culture” work in your favor. Here are five top tips to help you tap into Generation Y:
1. Be flexible
Work-life balance is incredibly important to millennials, and many simply don’t see the need to be office-bound for eight hours of every day when they have plentiful communication devices at their disposal. Businesses are slowly adjusting to this burgeoning need for flexibility, and many are in fact starting to see significant benefits as a result. After all, why force a night owl to sit at a desk from 9-5 when you could get much more out of them after dark? Millennials might be driving this trend, but businesses are the ultimate beneficiaries, so don’t be afraid to embrace a more moderate approach to working hours.
2. Focus on existing employees
A generation raised in an age rife with multi-platform advertising is largely impervious to marketing tricks, so if you want them to stand up and take notice of your business, word of mouth is the way to get there. Peer reviews have taken the world by storm, largely thanks to the inherent cynicism of this new generation, and that applies as much to the working world as anywhere else. So get your current employees talking about your business –whether you do this by offering new benefits, implementing free lunches or enforcing remote working is up to you– and the millennials will soon come knocking.
3. Get digital
We’re best equipped to reach our potential in an environment that feels familiar, and for the millennial generation raised in a connected world, that environment is the digital arena. Far more comfortable in front of a screen than an actual living person, millennials thrive in the online space, which is why collaborative tools like Slack and Yammer have gained tremendous popularity over the past few years. Similar in nature to networks like Facebook and Twitter, these applications allow employees to interact, collaborate on projects and connect with one another in a way that feels comfortable– and if your millennials feel comfortable in your organization, they’re a whole lot likelier to stick around in the long run.
4. Listening and learning
With rapidly dwindling attention spans, millennials are no longer responsive to passive acquisition of information. If you ever feel like you need to drive your Facebook usage figures through the roof, just hold a one-hour, Powerpoint-based training session for a group of Gen-Yers. Today’s workforce wants to learn by engaging, interacting and collaborating with others, so it’s important that you offer them a forum through which to do so. Encourage innovation, schedule time for the development of new ideas and give your millennials a chance to have their voices heard. Not only will this keep them happy and help them to feel recognized, but it’ll also boost the likelihood of learning and expose your enterprise to a world of creative ideas that might surprise you.
5. Think with your heart
Saving the world is a priority for many a millennial- you’re unlikely to find anyone in today’s generation who isn’t supporting some cause or the other. So for Generation Y, a company’s commitment to CSR can play a huge role in deciding whether or not they sign on the dotted line. Giving back has become an increasingly significant factor when it comes to both employee acquisition and retention– not only does it help to round out your employer value proposition, but it also assists in boosting morale throughout your ranks. So don’t be afraid to get involved in your community, and to publicize your efforts within the walls of your organization. Better yet, get your employees involved, and you’ll soon see your engagement rates ticking up swiftly.