Whatever your industry, you are most likely competing with other businesses over the best talent. Every company wants the most skilled, loyal and experienced employees, at the right salary level. But how can you make your workplace genuinely attractive to candidates – especially to the discerning millennials who are dominating the workforce at the moment?

Who are the millennials?

Millennials are fast becoming the most represented age group in employment. They are sometimes also referred to as ‘Generation Y’ and are generally considered to be people born between 1980 and the early 2000s. This generation has been labelled with various stereotypes, both negative and positive, but let’s take a look at what the overall generational traits are and how we can use this information to create workplaces that millennials love.

The ‘Digital Natives’

What makes the millennial generation truly unique – and attractive to employers – is the fact that they are ‘digital natives’. They are the first people to have grown up in a world where advanced technology and digital communications have been a natural part of their daily lives. They are perfectly adept at using technology and can typically pick up new digital skills much faster than their older colleagues.

This means that workplaces can make technology a central part of their workplace landscape and implement new tools and systems faster than ever before. However, it also puts pressure on you as an employer to nurture a sense of digital curiosity. Your employees will expect software to be smart and intuitive, and they will want to keep exploring new systems and devices that help them do their jobs better.

The ‘Generation Me’

One millennial stereotype which has been portrayed in various books and research is a certain sense of entitlement. This trait has been described as a ‘higher level of narcissistic behaviour’ than previous generations, often expressed through a need for attention, or a certain level of vulnerability.

The so-called selfishness of millennials is something which has often been highlighted unfairly and taken out of context. The real issue is often a lack of understanding between generations. The high-tech age has created a very different landscape for young people to grow up in, with pressures and expectations that previous generations were not faced with – triggering defence mechanisms that can sometimes be interpreted as self-absorbed.

Becoming an attractive millennial workplace

So – what can businesses do to make sure they attract and retain high-quality millennial employees? Let’s take a look at some useful strategies.

  • Invest in software
    Software is a critical piece of the work puzzle when it comes to job satisfaction – and efficiency. The systems your staff work with on a daily basis need to be tailored to the task, integrated with each other and easy to use. If you run tired, slow legacy systems that are painful to operate, nobody will enjoy working with them. Especially not the app-savvy millennial who impatiently wants to complete one task and move on to the next.
  • Recognise and reward talent
    Everyone needs a bit of encouragement from time to time, but for the younger generations it’s becoming more important than ever. More and more workplaces are offering internal recognition for staff in the form of awards or special perks. You may want to look at ways to reward all your employees for being a part of your business, through things like subsidised gym memberships or free drinks, but you should also aim to offer special rewards for extraordinary performance by individuals. This will create a stronger sense of achievement, and it will encourage others to achieve better results as well.
  • Invest in hardware
    Just as software is important, so is equipment. You should aim to regularly upgrade laptops and phones to make sure your teams don’t have to deal with frustratingly slow devices when doing their job. By providing top-of-the-range hardware, you show your employees that you value them and that you want them to have the best user experience possible. In addition, you allow them to be more productive thanks to better and faster tools!
  • Encourage social activities
    For millennials, the lines between work and downtime are slightly more blurred than what previous generations are used to. It’s often important for younger employees to have a good social engagement with their co-workers. In many businesses, this has given birth to the idea of integrating a social element into the working week. It could be beer and pizza on a Friday afternoon, movie nights in the conference room, or picnic lunches in the summer, complete with music and games.
  • Listen
    One of the most important skills of a good business leader is the ability to listen. This is crucial when it comes to tuning in to what staff actually want and need. It doesn’t mean giving people everything they want, of course, but it creates an environment of mutual respect and a willingness to understand each other. For millennials, this offers an opportunity to voice their ideas and concerns and to feel valued.
  • Offer fair and equal pay
    The rate of pay is of course an incredibly important part of why someone chooses to work in your business. But what’s more, employees will want to know that you offer a fair pay to everyone else in the business as well. If you employ both men and women, you need to show that you are offering equal opportunities and money regardless of gender. And if you run operations in other parts of the world you need to also show that you treat people fairly, provide good conditions and pay a decent wage.

Integrate different generations

If you employ several different generations in your business, you may find that it’s an additional challenge to integrate different people and help them to work smoothly together. Some older members of staff may struggle with the new technology, while the millennials get up and running quickly. Do make sure you allow people time to adapt to changes, but don’t make the mistake of holding back on innovation to placate older employees.

Keep the business moving forward – and let your millennials help guide the way!