All of our generations have to have catchy names these days. Generation X, Generation Y, and now the Millennials. After naming them, those who analyze such things then decide that they need to define them by a set of common characteristics, as if people aren't going to be different from each other just because they were born during a set time period.
Okay, that's not entirely fair. It is true that a generation shares some characteristics, based on the trends and advances of their day. For instance, Generation X wasn't known so much for consuming digital music because, well, there wasn't any such thing in the 1980s and early 90s. MIllennials, on the other hand, aren't exactly familiar with cassette tapes so much.
Since we can agree that there are certain similar characteristics among people of the same generation, it's important for businesses to understand what those common things are when they're looking to recruit, hire, and retain them as employees.
They Want You to Care
Why does Starbucks attract so many twenty-somethings into their ranks? It's because their brand is recognized as one that cares. They care about their employees, offering attractive perks like paying for continuing education and aggressively promoting from within. They care about causes, and they back it up with both time and monetary investments.
Millennials are similar to the hippie generation of the sixties and seventies in this way, but with more showers and less drug-addled communes involved. They don't want to work for companies that are purely profit-driven; they want them to take an active interest in both their employees and the state of the world at large.
They Want to Innovate and Lead
Most Millennials interviewed say they want to work for a company that pushes the envelope and is innovative in its ideas, structure, and practices. Likewise, they want positions that challenge them to push their own envelopes. If your business adheres to a rigid system that doesn't allow for growth and creative thinking, they won't be interested.
Part of that growth includes the ability to develop and prove their leadership skills. Millennials aren't much on the idea of following, at least not indefinitely. They want to know that they will have the opportunity to move up, take on more responsibility, and help lead the company to new places.
They Want to Make a Difference
This goes hand in hand with the idea of "caring". It's one thing to care about something; it's another level when you do something about it. It's a pretty common theme among this generation to want to do something that has a lasting impact in change for the better. That could be locally, but most of them think bigger - mainly because they have grown up with world events as part of their daily input. They're more likely to know about starvation in some third-world country than the homelessness in the next county.
That doesn't mean that won't help locally if it's brought to their attention however. Most give to charity or volunteer time with some worthy cause. Businesses need to work with them on both counts. Have ways to collect funds for causes, and be flexible in allowing time away from the office to volunteer time as well.
Speaking of Flexibility
Millennials expect some sort of flexibility in work schedules and conditions. Some trends have emerged that would make older generations stare in disbelief: giving new hires a two week vacation before they even start just so they'll be rested and ready to go, having no set work hours as long as the work gets done, and other ideas that are meant to attract talent from this generation.
Don't dismiss these ideas out of hand. Many of them are proving to get results. Whether it's working from home, setting their own hours, or whatever accommodations you can come up with that doesn't hurt your business, the future belongs to businesses that are willing to change in these ways. After all, the Millennials will make up three out of every four workers ten years from now.
Socialty is a full-service social media marketing and social recruiting agency in Chicago. We create content, websites, blog posts, email marketing and strategic marketing plans for small and medium size businesses. Our social recruiting team helps you attract talented candidates via social media outlets. Socialty connects you to your audience and potential employees. We'll keep you social while you carry on with your business. Keep Social and Carry On!