Attracting and Retaining an Engaged Millennial Workforce
Job seekers entering today’s workplace are used to company websites listing bottomless snacks and ping pong tables before health benefits. The perks of an office kegerator and a game room with comfy couches no longer set companies apart.
Just like you can’t buy genuine social media fans, companies can’t buy loyal employees with superfluous perks. Instead, by demonstrating your values, being transparent and recognizing your employees, you can attract and retain an engaged millennial workforce.
Demonstrate your values.
It’s easy to select a few values and hang them on a wall. But companies that live and embrace their principles have a better chance of retaining talent. For example, cloud computing company Salesforce values community service, so its social commitment has become a large part of its company culture. In addition to generous annual charitable donations from the company’s CEO, Salesforce provides its employees with paid volunteer days and matching donations. To date, the company has matched more than $100 million in employee charitable donations and logged 1.3 million volunteer hours.
Millennials also want to know companies are investing in them. According to a study by Deloitte, the most loyal employees feel they receive a lot of support, encouragement and training to take on leadership roles. An example of a company with good engagement practices is The Boston Consulting Group. The company partnered with a Harvard Business School professor to develop a program that helps their employees manage a better work-life balance by rethinking their work processes and making work more meaningful. BCG also has a feedback-based career development program to help support employees throughout their careers. With more than half of the company comprised of millennials, the firm noted a 74 percent increase in reported intentions to stay at BCG long term after implementing these initiatives.
Be transparent and communicate.
Rob Goffee, author and London Business School professor of organizational behavior, and Gareth Jones, author of Why Should Anyone Work Here, spent three years investigating what the ideal workplace would look like by surveying hundreds of executives. They found that authenticity and a workplace where important information is not suppressed were two of the most important organizational pillars for the ideal workplace.
Transparency and authenticity go hand-in-hand. Companies that lack transparency are often the companies whose offices have wild rumor mills and gossips. In a world where most of us share every detail of our lives online, job seekers expect the same from their employer.
Consistently ranked as one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, family owned supermarket chain Wegmans is a prime example. In addition to great perks like onsite childcare and fitness classes, 85 percent of employees noted the company often or almost always maintains great communication.
Recognize their contributions.
Gen Y wants to change the world and create a positive impact, and companies that recognize their contributions often resonate most with millennials.
A study found when companies focused on employees’ individual strengths and personality rather than emphasizing conformity and an organizational identity, there is greater customer satisfaction and employee retention after a six-month period.
One of the best ways we at Whistle Sports have found to keep our values in the forefront is through recognition. We recently established peer-nominated awards that are given out quarterly for each of our values. One sure sign of an engaged culture is that our award for “We Have Fun” is held in just as high regard as other categories such as creativity -- and it may even be the most fiercely competitive category.
At Google, aside from perks like free lunch and an onsite hair salon, the company also has a “gThanks” platform that allows employees to recognize their colleagues’ outstanding performances. The initiative has been such a success that one department created a “Wall of Happy” for employees to share glowing thank-you notes and praise emails.
Despite millions of millennials already in the workforce, companies are still struggling to attract and retain millennial talent. Instead of focusing on purchasing an office foosball table, companies should work to build a stronger culture with their employees, be communicative, listen to their feedback and acknowledge their individualities and contributions. Once that’s established, the company’s dedication and passion will build a thriving culture and loyal workforce.
Michael Cohen is executive vice president for finance and operations at Whistle Sports. Before joining Whistle in 2013, he founded WHOISMCOHEN Ventures to help early-stage companies (Seed through Series B). Previously, Cohen worked in consulting (strategy and innovation), private equity (operationally focused investing) and investment banking (M&A). He holds a B.B.A. in Finance & Marketing from Emory University.
Amanda (Meyer) Jesenof, people operations and office manager, joined the Whistle Sports team in the summer of 2015. She focuses on elevating office culture and increasing productivity. Jesenof has experience in operations, logistics and administrative functions. She is an avid participant and volunteer in New York City's running community. She earned a B.A in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts Boston.