Photo credit: Optition Training


Inside the Millennial Mind: What Employees Really Want

Millennial retention is one of the hottest topics consuming the brains of HR professionals nationwide. Hiring managers want to know how to attract millennials, but most importantly how to make them stay.

From a pragmatic standpoint, millennials already comprise a large portion of our workforce. In fact, the number is expected to reach a staggering 75 percent by 2025. The cold hard truth is that companies don’t really have a choice when it comes to creating a millennial-friendly environment.

Understanding Your Employees’ Needs

Every organization should have a good understanding of what attracts, retains and drives their associates. Most articles you read on employee retention, particularly as it relates to millenials, are hyper-focused on benefits packages, over-the-top amenities and corporate culture.

It’s easy to look at companies like Google and Facebook and think that unlimited food, gym memberships and the option to work from home will solve your problems. What is important to recognize is that these companies spend a tremendous amount of money and resources trying to attract and retain employees. However, they also understand what makes their employees tick from a developmental standpoint.

Millennials, and employees in general, want to know, “How is what I am doing making a difference?” Am I growing? Am I challenged? Do I understand how my work matters?

The Management Mindset vs Leading with Genuine Excitement

How a company relates to its employees makes a huge difference. It’s important to ask yourself if you are genuinely excited about the opportunities that millennials present for you and your business.

With a management mindset, companies are aware they need to do a better job of meeting the needs of their employees, but are hesitant to make any significant changes. They want to get by without making any dramatic changes to their day-to-day operations including training, onboarding or how feedback conversations happen.

In contrast, when there is a genuine excitement about the evolving workplace dynamic, companies are able to establish a true dialogue where they listen to employees and connect with them on a different level. In this type of leadership environment, every employee is encouraged to communicate what is desirable, what works, what’s frustrating, what isn’t impactful and what needs to change.

Companies should communicate to their employees that they are not only an asset, but that they are the lifeblood of the organization. This one small change can ensure you retain the talent to run your business and achieve your mission, while living your company values.

It Starts with Recruiting

When it comes to recruiting, some of the best advice I can give is to be very clear and transparent upfront. It can be frustrating in the throws of recruiting if hiring managers make promises to a potential hire, and once they begin it doesn’t come to fruition. Be very self-aware of what you can offer and what constraints you have. You are inviting turnover if you make promises you can’t keep.

Beyond that...listen. It can be a very healthy exercise to have an expectation that new hires will offer suggestions. Sometimes companies will ask for suggestions, but won’t mean it. Often, new hires don’t feel comfortable enough to speak up. Anyone who joins an organization needs to understand the culture as well as their parameters, but by the same token feel an element of freedom to offer suggestions.

What’s Next

At Catto & Catto, we embrace the opportunity to develop our organizational strategy and design for the future. We have to carefully study our own communication channels, find ways to craft roles that create meaningful careers for our people, and remain focused on our clients. At the same time, we are purposefully devoted to ensuring our employees know the work they do is meaningful. We strive to create an environment where our employees know they can achieve a healthy balance between excellence at work and excellence at home.

It’s simple. No one wants to be stereotyped. Every employee wants to be respected. Some companies have a culture that grows and develops because no one pays attention to it. Others are intentional in creating an environment where their employees know that there are plenty of opportunities to contribute and make a difference. It’s important to listen to and understand, not only millennials, but every employee regardless of generation. Ultimately, it’s those relationships that will cultivate and sustain a strong team.

About The Author

Barbara Bentley serves the employees of Catto & Catto as HR Director, responsible for creating and implementing talent and culture strategies in support of Catto & Catto’s Mission and Values.  Barb has over twenty years of HR experience across several industries, has earned the SPHR and SHRM-SCP designations, completed her MBA and is currently pursuing a second Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership through Gonzaga University.




Photo Credit: Optic Training

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