Attracting Millennials: Understanding What Millennials Want in a Career

This year millennials surpassed Gen Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, according to Pew Research. Instead of debating about millennials’ work style or views, companies need to embrace this new generation and figure out how to attract and retain top talent. Gone are the days when attractive salaries and retirement options were enough to land top recruits. Millennials want more than just a paycheck. This is good news for companies who can’t compete with the salaries of big corporations. But it also means getting more innovative and proactive about offering millennials what they really want.

Rewarding and challenging work

Forbes reports that millennials want rewarding, fulfilling work that makes an impact on the world. Money isn’t necessarily the objective as long as millennials feel their work is part of something bigger than themselves and that they can make a difference.

But what if your industry doesn’t attract millennials? For instance, only 5.4 percent of the 80 million millennials are interested in jobs in manufacturing, according to o-ring manufacturer Apple Rubber. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s SMC Business Councils reports that millennials consider manufacturing to be unglamorous, boring, dirty and tedious. In reality, today’s manufacturing needs multitasking, computer-savvy employees with the ability to take on many roles. This dilemma can be used to entice millennials who want to disrupt the industry and take on more responsibility than an entry-level office job.

Companies can invite millennials to re-strategize their marketing campaigns, streamline processes and come up with innovative new product ideas. The more you involve millennials in the process and give them ownership over their career, the more both parties will benefit.

Ultimate flexibility

Millennials see time as a limited resource that should be handled wisely and they aren’t interested in trading it for money. They want to work hard at their jobs and then leave when the work is done instead of clocking in at 9 a.m. and leaving at 5 p.m. like previous generations. Companies can offer employees more flexibility by starting to measure employee performance using milestone accomplishments and long-term goal setting instead of who puts in the most hours. PwC’s “Millennials At Work” study shows that many would put off a promotion just to hammer out an ideal schedule for themselves. To attract millennials, offer flex time, telecommuting days and additional vacation time contingent on their work performance.

Collaborative work

Millennials are team-oriented players who crave collaboration and a voice to share their ideas and opinions in the workplace. This also means they’re less interested in a cutthroat, competitive workplace. Allow your millennial staff to have a voice in projects and group them with mentors or co-workers so they can draw out each other’s talents. Even if your industry is accustomed to working autonomously, you may find the collaborative environment gives a boost to your productivity and work culture.

Fast-paced trajectory

IBM’s infographic on myths, exaggerations and uncomfortable truths about millennials in the workplace shows that this generation isn’t so different than baby boomers. Although they may demand more flexibility than previous generations, they’re still ambitious. Millennials value making a positive impact on their organization, solving social or environmental challenges and working with a diverse group. This isn’t so unlike what baby boomers were after at the start of their own careers. Give millennials an opportunity to step up to their responsibilities and promote them based on their work performance rather than the standards typically held in your industry.


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