In the past ten years many companies have explored ways to recruit, retain, and, failing that, recapture employees born since 1980, a.k.a. Millennials or Gen Y. This is a summary of the best practices we’ve found, a.k.a. ideas that actually work in recruiting Millennials.
- Acknowledge that the gray ceiling (Boomers staying on past age 70) is a fact. If companies don’t acknowledge and discuss the problems of younger workers “running in place” younger workers think management doesn’t know what is happening.
- Provide provide work-readiness skills, a.k.a. business etiquette. Spell out how we work with others, how we talk to clients/co-workers. Assume nothing. Call it orientation if you must have a better title. Think of it as the “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots” of organizational life.
- Pick your most productive millennials and question them intensively. What do they like/dislike about the job, the organization, the management? Have an outsider do this and compile the results. Circulate ideas on recruiting among the most successful young employees and ask them for comments. What would their friends say?
- Provide instant feedback. Never wait for a performance review to correct performance. Say, “Stop. Do it this way.” Never ask, “How else could you have done this?” If the person had known a better method he would have used it.
- Provide flexible work hours. The more different schedules you can accommodate the longer you keep younger employees. This is not about children or family responsibilities; it’s about giving people choices.
- Practice cross-functional job rotation. See that younger workers are on a steep upward learning curve. Retention depends on regularly adding new skills.
- Reward shortcuts and take advantage of the millennials’ computer literacy. Let them write recruiting ads for your website.
- Coach Boomers in how to work with younger people. Help them understand the company needs a multigenerational workforce.
Tell any good employee who leaves that he or she is welcome to return if there is an opening. Millennials don’t leave jobs because they hate them. They leave to see what’s over the next hill. If you want loyalty you will purchase it at the price of innovation.