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Beyond Perks: Developing a Millennial-Friendly Culture

Free lunch and ping-pong tables aren't enough anymore to attract top candidates, and retain them. Here are some proven tactics.
Beyond Perks: Developing a Millennial-Friendly Culture
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Free lunches, sleeping pods, ping-pong tables and an onsite gym are just a few of the perks companies offer to attract top talent and incentivize young professionals. While these are great employee perks, today’s millennials are finding there’s more to a career than free lunch. 

So, just what are young professionals looking for? Let’s take a look at several top-rated companies to uncover what’s working well, how they’re competing for talent and where you can apply their lessons learned and tactical strategies to your own hiring.

Show what it means to be a part of your company’s culture.

There’s a lot of buzz around the word “culture” and what it means within an organization. It’s built around the mission, core values and what you embody as a company. But It all boils down to “practicing what you preach.” Companies can talk about what they want their culture to be, or offer perks to promote it, but in the end it needs to be actionable.

For instance, the grocery store Wegmans puts their mission into practice with a core set of values, called “Who We Are,” which are built on creating a great place where caring about and respecting people is the priority. Employees shared their praise, echoing Wegman’s commitment to their company culture in a recent survey where 98 percent of employees called Wegmans workplace a “great atmosphere” and 94 percent said they were “proud to tell others [they] worked there.”

One employee says, “Wegmans provides a lot of resources that allows its employees to excel and provide exceptional service to the customers and patients. It fosters a great culture to motivate great productivity and workflow to continuously improve the experience for both the employees and customers.”

Help employees achieve career growth.

Learning and growing on the job is critical to employees, both prospective and current. As more employers require candidates with soft skills—leadership, communication, collaboration and problem-solving—candidates are looking for growth opportunities and a clear career trajectory.

Offering professional development and training opportunities enables employers to promote employees from within the company. While there are many ways to do this, health-care company Kaiser Permanente sets a good example by encouraging employees to participate in programs to advance their career within the organization, including career development and mentorship programs, online and in-person classes to sharpen on-the-job skills, tuition reimbursement and business resource groups.

“I love that Kaiser requires their employees to be up-to-date with their training so employees can continue to provide excellent services to the patients,” says one Kaiser Permanente employee. “Kaiser is a company that allows and supports their employees to advance their career.”

Give employees opportunities to make an impact.

Today’s young professionals want to feel like they’re making an impact. As Mark Zuckerberg stated in his Harvard commencement speech, “[I]’m here to tell you finding your purpose isn’t enough. The challenge for our generation is creating a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.”

Providing employees with the chance to volunteer in their community can go a long way. In-N-Out Burger believes volunteering builds character and encourages employees to use two paid vacation days every quarter for volunteer work. In-N-Out Burger also has their own charity, the In-N-Out Burger Foundation, which assists children who have been victims of child abuse and underwrites all costs associated with the foundation so that 100% of money raised is given back to the community.

In-N-Out Burger’s contribution to the public is recognized and appreciated by employees. One former In-N-Out Burger employee says, “In-N-Out is a great company to work for… All employees enjoy gatherings paid entirely by the company, holiday gifts and volunteer opportunities to help out the community, among other things.”

With opportunities for employees to give back, In-N-Out Burger is cultivating and strengthening their company culture. Their charitable acts are also noticed within the community. Recently In-N-Out Burger launched a Cover to Cover reading program, which rewards students reading five books or more with a free burger. This story got picked up by the local media and the publicity not only helps build In-N-Out Burger's employer brand, but also helps with recruitment when it comes time to hire.

Whether you’re a large corporation, or a small, family-owned business, free lunch and ping-pong tables will only get you so far. But by building a strong, action-minded culture that provides employees with career advancement and opportunities to make an impact, you’re not only attracting top candidates, you’re retaining them.

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