Attracting and Retaining Millennials and Gen Z
By Katie Hulce
With Millennials taking over the workforce and Gen Z aka “Zoomers” hot on their tail, it’s critical for all companies to focus their attention on drawing this crowd to their workplace.
There are several differences between these generations. Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, making most of them established adults. Quite a few Millennials were young children during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but still old enough to comprehend its significance. Zoomers on the other hand, were born between 1997 and the early 2010s and many remember the Great Recession during their childhood, as well as the recent pandemic.
Generally, most employees want the same things from an employer, but different generations shift what they deem most important to them. Younger workers’ “why” is very different than the generations that are thinking about retirement.
Ways To Attract and Retain Millennials and Zoomers
1. Emphasize Company Culture
Professionals want a workplace where they can connect with others. After enduring a long pandemic, many are craving interaction with others more than ever before. The more Millennials and Zoomers feel a culture match, the more likely they are to stay at a company because it would be devastating to leave coworkers and mentors they have established a relationship with both inside and outside of the office.
Relationships are important. Millennials and Zoomers value having a genuine and candid relationship with their boss. It’s as necessary to them as working with an authentic company brand.
It’s critical for these employees to feel appreciated. Zoomers specifically are coming to the age where they are beginning the transition from internships to a full-time career. Most new graduates unfortunately are used to being handed busy work that doesn’t feel like it creates a lot of value. By the time they have a year-round full-time job, they want to feel like they are doing something that matters. Making an impact is high on their list of career fulfillment.
2. Have A Purpose
Younger workers not only want to feel like they’re doing impactful work themselves, but they also want to feel like the company they work for has a clear purpose/mission and makes a difference in the lives of others.
Working for a company with purpose helps retain Millennials and Zoomers because it adds meaning to their lives. Doing something that people can be proud of helps them focus on their tasks and see the importance of their work. Every company has a purpose – being able to clearly articulate it is what will attract the best talent.
3. Diversify Your Workplace
Diversity is more than race, it’s background. Age, religion, gender, economic status, the list goes on and on.
Businesses are becoming more and more collaborative, and there’s no challenge of thought if you only collaborate with people who always share your perspective.
Diversity is very important to younger workers because the more diverse your workforce, the more inclusive everyone feels in the workplace. This leads directly back to company culture. People feel accepted in an environment that supports their workers from all backgrounds and walks of life. Innovation can only happen if you surround yourself with people who view the world from many different lenses.
4. Be Flexible and Adaptable
Younger generations appreciate employers that are willing to keep up with technology and trends. There’s no sense in having tech savvy people learn how to use outdated programs. For those who lack a love of technology, utilizing the young generations’ expertise not only keeps them motivated, but it also assists with growth of your company and keeps what you do relevant to present day.
We’d be lying if we didn’t acknowledge that older generations tend to be less than enthusiastic about training on new programs or technology, so any desire to bring your business to the 21st century in that department will surprise and excite young employees.
5. Be A Mentor
Mentors are not the same as a boss. It’s someone who is knowledgeable and willing to show your employees the ropes and take time to guide them through loving, candid conversation. Being given a mentor shows that the business not only cares but is also willing to invest in them as a professional.
Mentors are able to hold people accountable and push them to meet personal and professional goals for themselves without the stress and formalities of meeting with the boss. The relationship between a mentor and their mentee should be natural, not forced.
For the Millennials generation heading to mid-career, a sponsor is also a good idea. Different than a mentor, a sponsor is someone who will pull the employee along in their career so as they move up the ladder, so does the young emerging leader. Think of it like the government. A sponsor helps ensure you have all the “votes in the room” before the bill is voted on, making it easier to pass. A sponsor believes in you and is your champion when you are absent “from the room where it happens”.
Impact on the Workforce
There’s a reason Gen Z are being called “Zoomers”. Many started looking for a career job in the middle of a pandemic and have become very comfortable working remotely. Younger generations crave flexibility in their work-life balance and want the freedom a standard 9-5 job doesn’t offer.
Millennials and Gen Z must deal with being labeled as job-hoppers and flakes, when in reality they are simply less willing to stay at a job they feel unsatisfied in. Flexibility is a big part of this issue. Many of the newcomers saw their parents struggle during the Great Recession, putting in long hours and feeling overwhelmed in an effort to make ends meet. While the economy is unpredictable, it made an impression on the next generation who doesn’t want to feel trapped at work, hence the stance for flexibility. The standard white picket fence, two kids, suburban dream is becoming less and less attractive to them.
Millennials grew up and were quickly introduced to technology, while Gen Z grew up alongside it. Both generations have had significantly more exposure to it than past generations. Technology in the workplace has been controversial. Some people think AI will end up taking most jobs, whereas others are excited to utilize it to increase their productivity. As younger professionals take over the workforce the use of technology will continue to advance.
Not as unique to younger generations, fear of failure is strong. Frequent feedback, whether it be from a mentor or boss, will be key for the success of Millennials and Gen Z. The talent gap is beginning to put people with less experience into positions that require greater skill. Because of this, asking questions before acting will be common. Learning and development will be more important than ever.
Every generation is unique and has differing goals from the last generation. Although accommodating everyone is impossible, adapting to the needs of the majority of the workforce will help retain good talent.