I once worked for a company where a scathing email was sent to the entire team, hundreds of us, demanding that we be grateful for the coffee, paper cups, and plastic spoons we were provided every day. Perhaps this employee who sent the email overheard someone complaining that we were out of pumpkin spice coffee pods but whatever it was, it really set her off. While the mass email certainly didn’t sit well with many, it really rubbed the millennials in the building the wrong way.
Millennials, also known as Generation Y and those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, are changing the face of hiring and retaining employees as we know it. Over the past year, everyone from CNBC to Mashable has covered these job hoppers, many of whom leave a company after just one year. They’re not consumed with planting their flag in the ground and climbing a traditional corporate ladder to become a top executive. They’re always peeking over the fence to see if the grass is really greener on the other side and hopping it if it is.
These millennials are jumping ship for a variety of reasons but it’s the power of the internet that lets them explore bigger or better options. A majority of people in the work force, regardless of age, would happily take a pay increase. Combine that goal with the country’s student loan debt crisis and you’ll find that many people in their 20s and 30s are searching for a way to not only pay off their education but secure their future. Sites like PayScale, Salary, and Glassdoor show if you’re earning as much as you should and if not, quickly lead you to methods to make a change.
However, millennials are looking for more than just a paycheck. Last year, Santa Monica recruiting and training company Cornerstone OnDemand released a workplace productivity report that showcased just how overloaded Gen Y-ers feel when on the clock. While they expressed being more overwhelmed than Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers, all three groups admitted that they would feel more productive with a flexible and remote work schedule. In fact, many a millennial have said in surveys, such as a recent one by Ernst & Young, that they would even forgo a raise or promotion just to be able to have more freedom, flexibility and control over their schedule and working conditions.
Now, there isn’t a person alive (or least online) who doesn’t know just how awesome Google can be to work for. With nearly 30,000 employees, they consistently rank at the top of any Best Companies to Work For list. Of course, this multi-billion dollar company can afford flashy perks such as unlimited free food, complementary rides to and from work, and the ability to bring your dog to the office with you. However, even small companies can find affordable incentives to reel in employees and demonstrate their appreciation for them. You can partner with a local gym to offer discounts or provide free seminars that contribute to personal or professional development. Sometimes, something as simple as not guilt tripping people for using their sick or personal days or celebrating birthdays and milestones can make all the difference.
So… back to the coffee email. Millennials aren’t coming to work every day for a free cup of coffee. They’re clocking in to find purpose and passion while still maintaining a high quality of life. If you’re looking to tailor your work environment to be more millennial friendly, a few questions to ask yourself are: Is my salary/benefits package competitive with other companies in the area? Am I able to focus more on results than a time card? Are we open to changing and evolving as a company in order to listen to what our employees both want and need? This isn’t to say to kowtow to every request a fresh faced college grad may put forth but considering what matters most to future business leaders could keep talented people on your team and in your corner for much longer than the next 12 months.