I’ve seen a ton of media coverage and HR expert discussion about the degree to which millennial employees expect to be catered to. People complain about how entitled millennials are, how they’ve been spoiled rotten by participation trophies and feel-good BS.
While there may be some valid complaints about the generation entering the workforce, one fact is clear: we have to learn how employ, work with, and motivate them. They are our future workforce.
Fringe benefits aren’t something new that millennials created. There’s a long history of companies providing perks to employees, and it’s done for a number of very good reasons. When you’re stepping back to examine your hiring and compensation practices with an eye to ensuring your company appeals to millennial prospects, here are a few things that really matter.
1. Shared values. While some older folks may think it’s silly to want to feel fulfilled by your work, it’s certainly a common trait among millennials. They don’t just want a paycheck; they want to feel like the company they work for reflects their ethical standards. How do you adapt? It can be as simple as doing business in a transparent, moral way. Or you may use a portion of your company’s profits to support worthy causes. However you choose to make a connection between your company values and the values of your employees, you’re strengthening loyalty.
2. Flexibility. Unless you need your staff to deal face-to-face with customers at specific times, there are almost certainly ways you can make work hours and locations flexible. Millennials didn’t grow up with traditional offices, and they know it’s possible for many of us to work in our pajamas – at least some of the time. You may have to be willing to consider alternate schedules and invest in home office setups if you’re going to woo top millennial talent. Additionally, even though many millennials may not yet have children, they value companies that support family life with perks like emergency child care or schedules that flex according to a school calendar.
3. Coworker connection. In addition to wanting to feel connected to corporate values, millennials want to feel like they’re part of a team. More accustomed to collaborative work than perhaps some earlier generations are, getting the best from your millennials may require you to foster a sense of community. From team-building exercises to corporate retreats and company-wide contests, if you can find a way to help your millennial employees feel connected, they’ll reward you with their dedication.
4. Cold hard cash. While millennials may want feel-good benefits, they’re not working for Monopoly money. They want competitive salaries (they know how to do the research to determine the going rate), and they also want benefits like health and retirement options. Perks can’t be seen as a substitute for a fair wage.
Millennial bashing is the trend-du-jour, but considering the fact that we are – sometime soon – going to be faced with no other alternative, it’s to our benefit to figure out a way to bring millennials into our company fold and keep them happy. Unless you can find a way to avoid hiring an entire generation of workers, you’re better off being an early adopter of millennial-friendly practices.