Dr. Jessica Stahl, Owner of Ignite Results.
Millennials are individuals who were born between the mid-1970s and early 2000s. By 2025, half of the workers in the United States will be of the Millennial generation, so it is imperative that you understand how to attract them, manage them and retain the top performers in your business.
Photo credit to the US Census Bureau.
Opportunity for growth and development is the #1 reason Millennials are attracted to a company. Thus, if you want to be competitive, provide opportunities to expand skills, give regular feedback and create a roadmap for career advancement. This includes providing training opportunities beyond just technical functions. Depending on your company needs, strong training topics include communication, relationship building and leadership. Training can be offered in a group setting such as team building activities and weekly sales meetings; it can also be tailored to an individual through online courses and mentoring programs. Regardless of the avenue, Millennials want to feel like they are being invested in.
Next, regular feedback from leadership should be provided. This can take the form of biweekly 1-1 meetings between the manager and employee, formal performance evaluations, and field coaching on more technical aspects. Whatever method you choose, the focus should be on enhancing performance by pointing out what the employee is doing great and what specific actions can be taken to become better. Finally, a company should clearly show employees their path to career advancement and what it will take to get there. Depending on the position, advancement can mean promotions, expanded responsibility and pay increases. Research shows that Millennials are more likely to stay when they can visualize their future with the company.
In this context, flexibility means shifting the work environment to allow for greater work-life balance. On the most basic level, this means providing flexibility whenever possible to allow for personal appointments, family emergencies or sick kids. Going deeper, this may mean allowing four 10-hour days, adjusting start times and adding work-from-home privileges for employees with lengthy commutes. If interested in increasing flexibility, start by conducting an audit of your policies. Many companies set policies when they start and never update them along the way. One company I worked with had a policy for typewriter usage (seriously)! I recommend revisiting work policies every three years to account for changes in technology, the economy and labor laws. When you review your policies, you should ask yourself (1) are these still relevant and (2) can I be 10% more flexible on any of them?
Another area to consider is increased vacation time. In corporate America, the standard vacation allotment for new employees is 2-3 weeks. With so many options on where to work, increasing vacation and allowing it to be accessed after 90 days will attract high-performing Millennials. If this seems financially unfeasible, consider offering additional vacation time in lieu of a year-end bonus. This creates a win-win situation.
#3 Customized management
One size does not fit all. Remember this is a generation where a regular teddy bear would not suffice. Not when you can Build-a-Bear exactly the way you want with unlimited accessories. Moreover, to be successful, managers must tailor their communication and leadership style to meet individual needs. First, take time to get to know your Millennials including what motivates them, their career aspirations and their unique strengths. Use this information to give feedback in a way that resonates with them and inspires change. Also use this information to assign duties that leverage your Millennials’ unique strengths. (Consider using the StrengthsFinder assessment). For instance, a struggling sales rep enjoys and excels at analyzing data. Rather than firing this person, he/she could be moved to the Production or Accounts Receivable function of the company. Most importantly, create relationships built on trust where employees feel comfortable coming to you for guidance.
Purpose is the last, and perhaps most important guidepost to managing Millennials. To provide a sense of purpose, you need to convey two aspects including (1) why their job exists and (2) how their job fulfills the larger vision of the company. For contractors, this often means communicating the impact each individual has on customers’ homes and lives. Sharing customer reviews at team meetings or showcasing before and after videos of jobs will establish this connection. This content can also be used as a recruiting tool to attract new Millennials to the company.
To communicate how a Millennial’s job fulfills the larger vision of the company, start by defining the company’s mission and vision statements and core values. Your mission statement communicates why your company exists, what its overall goal is, and what kind of service it provides. A vision statement describes what will happen if you accomplish your mission. It should explain how your company will positively impact your employees, customers and the community.
Your core values are the principles that guide the company’s actions and serve as its cultural cornerstones. They set your company apart from the competition and serve as a rallying point for employees1. But values are more than words posted on the wall, they have to connect to the hearts of employees. My most successful clients have created a culture video, wrote a company cheer, provided annual values awards, and organized competitions around core values. Remember, these values need to feel real to both leadership and employees.
In conclusion, these four guideposts are proven methods to attract and retain high-performing Millennials. They will set your contracting business apart from your competition and position you as the employer of choice. When you are committed to developing your staff, providing flexibility for work and life, customizing management styles to meet individual needs, and aligning your team to meet common goals, you are creating a workforce of and for the future.
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Photo Credit: US Census Bureau
To contact Jessica
LinkedIn: Ignite Results
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