How to attract and retain Millennials as employees and customers.
They are quite different than any other generation. They are the largest generation ever, and number over 80 million in the US alone, which exceeds the Baby-boomers. They will represent approximately 50% of the workforce by 2020.
“These digital natives grew up in the shadow of September 11 and the Great Recession, and are well adapted to change, technologically-savvy, multi-tasking, and are poised to unleash innovation when given the right environment, support, and autonomy.” (Katherine Reynolds, Fortune.com)
They expect technology to work and prefer self-service options. They operate on multiple and mobile channels. They want to know everything. It is hard to overwhelm them with pertinent information.
To attract them, your company must be active on social media. They extensively research companies and products before making a decision and are swayed by user reviews. To gain their loyalty, your company needs to respond to any negative feedback on social media within 15 minutes. They expect you are as engaged on social media as you are with answering calls and emails.
They are very social; they like to eat, shop, travel in groups and thus are a terrific source for referrals. 33% indicate that they also significantly influence their parents in their purchasing decisions. Additionally, they are very self-expressive, liberal, upbeat, and open to change. For them, communication = texting. Do you offer texting to employees and customers? Communicate regularly with them – you are not “bothering” them but are engaging with them. Most Millennials sleep with their phones nearby.
They expect a work/life balance and they are continuous learners. They value Mentors and know they have much to learn. However, they also are aware that they have much to offer, especially regarding companies’ sometimes outdated technology and older employees who still are not technologically skilled. They frequently become the go-to person for older employees’ technology problems. They usually do not mind as long as they are given credit for it and it is part of their job.
Some have said they are high maintenance, which could be true, but the flipside is they are also the most innately innovative, technologically savvy, highly educated, adaptive to change, and thus may be the highest performing generation. Engage with them; ask them their opinions. They need to and want to make a difference; it is part of their DNA.
This was the generation that was hit the hardest by the Great Recession. That has left its mark. This is the first generation that does not expect to be as financially well off as their parents. They carry more student debt than any other generation. Many choose to live with their parents after college and delay getting married or purchasing a home.
As Millennials become a larger portion of the workforce, all companies need to learn to work with them. Most smart companies are adapting their recruitment, training, and retention efforts to match their needs. All companies will eventually need their unstoppable optimism, innovation, technological skills and willingness to change to just stay ahead of the curve. To truly be great, you will need to genuinely and warmly welcome them to your company, listen to them, and only then will your company experience future repeated outstanding successes. They are the road to the future.
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