How Millennials Approach Their Next Job & How Startups Attract Top Talent

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Millennials. we’re you’re interns, up-and-coming account executives, and your friends’ little brother who’s still in high school. Officially, it’s anyone born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s (though there are no official set years).

We’re the future of the American workforce.

The word itself came to fashion right after a scathing Time Magazine article in 2013 tried to pin us as the most self-centered generation—lazy, unmotivated, and mostly concerned with ourselves.

But after floods of studies and journalist coming to their defense, we have the world’s attention.

Countless studies are being conducted now to figure out how Millennials tick, what our work habits are, and what’s attracting top talent. To start, let’s look at some of the facts about Millennials:

According to stats gathered by NPR from Pew the U.S. Census Bureau:

  •      Millennials now make up 28% of the population.
  •      The most common age of a U.S. citizen is 22.
  •      43% of Millennials are nonwhite—a big jump from 28% of baby boomers.
  •      Millennials are waiting longer to get married than past generations.
  •      Average student debt for the class of 2012 was $27,000

So from the start we can conclude that Millennials are a) having a harder time finding jobs, b) more conscious of diversity, c) less concerned with “settling down,” and d) in a lot of debt.

But what does that mean for employers, and what does that mean for Millennials on the job hunt? For starters, it’s affecting how long Millennials want to stay in one place.

Job Hopping: A Trendy Way to Work

According to this Forbes article, Millennials plan to stay at their jobs a maximum of three years, generally about 18 months—down from the current 4.4 year average today’s worker sticks around. It’s a combination of a whole slew of intangibles, but one reason is definitely clear: happiness in the workplace.

That same article goes on to say that 88% of Millennials think a “positive culture” is an important and even essential element to their dream job. And sure, ideally we all would appreciate a positive work culture. But is that reflected in how top employers are attracting top talent?

Let’s take a look.

5 CEO’s Who Are Really Listening

Craig Malloy is the CEO at Lifesize, originally an enterprise communication software company. In trying to develop a younger workforce—and an environment that attracted such—he tapped into his ability of “recognizing patterns.”

In addition to adapting to more cloud-based technology sales, which harkens to the skillset of Millennials, he redesigned his office to have a more accommodating, open floor plan.

Additionally, he began to add more Millennial-friendly benefits like free food, and group exercise activities.

Rather than focusing on what he calls the technology flavor of the month, Malloy tried to “observe what’s happening, understand what’s important, and get people moving together in the right direction – guiding the process with both people and technology.”

Nancy Altobello, EY’s Vice Chair of Talent, was able to sit down and give Forbes some of her insight into what she sees as the best method for keeping Millennials around.

She isn’t too married to the statistics, but rather focuses on the needs of her employees—similarly based on some of the facts we mentioned before.

Some of her major touch points? She knows her millennial employees value interesting work, flexible work schedules, and competitive compensation (those student loans don’t pay for themselves!) and regular feedback.

It seems simple enough, but what it comes down to is a fundamental understanding of who your employees are, and what drives them.

Brian Halligan, CEO of the ever-growing HubSpot, knows that Millennials are ready to learn and are excited by challenges. Because Millennials are less concerned about stability early on in their careers, Halligan has demonstrated that it’s worth letting them take risks as your employees.

For starters, Halligan says that he puts them in challenging rolls because “gray hair and experience are really overrated.”

In that same lens, he makes sure that his employees are moving to new positions every three months or so, so that they continue to feel they’re being challenged, and not falling into a monotonous role within the company.

Michael Waxman, the founder (and successful user) of Grouper, an online dating site, shows that attracting Millennial workers is about creating purpose.

As you can see below, working at Grouper is pitched much less like a career and much more like socially impacting the world for better. You’re not just joining an office, you’re joining a cause.

Of course, it’s just an online dating app, but it’s that kind of mentality that is going to get hard working Millennials behind a startup that has had little else to back it up.

Finally, see the innovative strategy that Seth Bannon, the founder of Amicus, is using to attract Millennials to his startup: offering them a cow.

Successful applicants will have a cow donated in their name, and possibly win $2,000, to help raise money toward a nonprofit’s work—a central part of the company’s mission.

This strategy again taps into Millennials’ desire to feel like they’re a part of a greater movement—that their work has meaning beyond work, paycheck, and savings.

If you’re doing anything to attract top notch Millennial talent, it should be rooted in the understanding that they want to have meaning, they want to take risks, and they’re not afraid of instability—in fact, they’re fighting it with their own powers of volition.

As your company does more to attract Millennials, be empowered by knowing who they are and what they want. As you shape your brand to that message, watch how the applications come pouring in. If you’d like further reading on how to create a company incentive program to keep

Millennials motivated check out this blog post from When I Work.

How does your company tackle this interesting topic on attracting top young talent and keeping them motivated in the workplace?

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