Secrets to Attracting Millennials to the Workplace

Female professional smiling while her coworkers clap for her

The makeup of the modern multigenerational workforce is evolving. Employees of the baby boomer generation — people born between 1946 and 1964 — are starting to retire, and more Generation Y workers, also known as millennials — those born between 1980 and 1995 — are entering the workforce. As of 2018, millennials officially outnumbered their baby boomer colleagues in working America. This is why attracting millennials to the workplace is imperative for employers seeking to grow their workforce.

According to Pew Research¹, the boomer labor force has been declining by 2.2 million every year, or about 5,900 a day, since 2010. This downward trend differs from the statistics on millennials in the workplace, which show that more than one in three workers are now part of the millennial generation (Gen Xers also make up a big portion of the workforce, accounting for about a third of American employees). 

This significant change in the workforce leaves many employers trying to figure out how to appeal to millennials. But, what do millennials want? What are some recommended best practices for attracting millennials to the workplace? 

Characteristics of Millennials in the Workplace

We’ve addressed some of the differences between millennials and baby boomers in the workplace in a previous article. However, to attract and manage millennials in your organization, it’s helpful to understand some of their critical characteristics, so we’ll touch on those for a moment here.  

Millennial workforce trends span a variety of topics. Some pertain to their expectations of workplace culture, environment and flexibility, while others deal with more tangible topics like their desired compensation, benefits, and advancement opportunities.

Workers of this generation sometimes get a bad rap, frequently stereotyped as being lazy, narcissistic, coddled, and less likely to stick with one job for an extended period. It’s true that millennials do switch jobs more than their older peers; Gallup, which called them the “job-hopping generation,” found that 21% of millennials² have changed jobs within the past year. That’s more than three times the number of non-millennials who say they’ve changed jobs. 

On the positive side, millennials also are often regarded as being more cognizant of diversity in the workplace, being inspired by an organization’s values, and having fresher perspectives and greater technical skills than previous generations. After all, millennials are digital natives — they grew up using portable devices, computers, and social media that either didn’t exist or weren’t available to the general public in previous generations. They’re unattached to organizations and institutions, instead of hitching their proverbial wagons to values and movements they care about.

So, the question remains about how to attract millennials to your business — what can you do as a small to midsize business (SMB) manager or human resources expert to get the younger generation through your doors?

Tips for Attracting Millennials to the Workplace

Here are six things you can do to attract millennials to your organization. 

1. Promote Positive Values and an Engaged Company Culture

Millennials want to feel like their efforts and ideas matter. This is why it’s essential to create a millennial work culture or company culture that includes values younger employees can stand behind. It’s equally important to create an environment that promotes diverse viewpoints, transparency, and openness — meaning a culture that is inclusive or set up in a way in which everyone can participate and follows the same set of rules.

A great way to help your company connect with millennial applicants is to make sure they receive a tour of your office—whether in person or virtual—as part of the application process. Connect them with managers and other employees who can share their experiences about working at your organization to help them visualize what it might be like to work there. If a candidate sees themselves in a role, they are more likely to accept your employment offer.

2. Offer Flexible Work Opportunities

Flexibility isn’t just a nice-to-have, but a must-have for millennial employees. One of the most effective methods of attracting millennials to the workplace is integrating flexibility into business practices and employee benefits. 

Nonmonetary benefits such as flexible hours and remote work opportunities appeal to this generation of candidates because the benefits provide more freedom to work around the employee’s interests, hobbies, and family responsibilities, which many of them place a higher value on than their 9-to-5.

3. Offer Transparent Compensation That Reflects the Skills You Seek

Millennials grew up in a time of economic instability with the recession that hit in the mid-2000s. As such, many crave financial security. If you’re looking for someone with a lot of technical skills or expertise, don’t shortchange millennials simply because they’re young. Offer compensation that’s representative of the level of knowledge, skills, and expertise you desire for each position, regardless of how long the candidate has been in the workforce — and be transparent about it.

According to Professor David Burkus at Oral Roberts University, pay transparency³ is vital to many millennials:

“Pay transparency — sharing salaries openly across a company — makes for a better workplace for both the employee and for the organization. When people don’t know how their pay compares to their peers’, they’re more likely to feel underpaid and maybe even discriminated against.”

Some companies, like Buffer, have doubled down⁴ on becoming leaders in pay transparency, making all salaries for every role in the company publicly available online. 

4. Support Mentorship and Learning Opportunities for Growth

Millennials place a high value on growth opportunities when considering employers. In a Deloitte survey⁵ of more than 7,500 millennial workers around the world, 71% percent of those likely to leave their jobs in the next two years said they were unhappy with how their leadership skills were being developed.

This is in alignment with Gallup⁶ research, which found that learning and growth opportunities strongly appeal to millennials when they apply for jobs:

“Millennials care deeply about their development when looking for jobs and — naturally — in their current roles. An impressive 87% of millennials rate ‘professional or career growth and development opportunities’ as important to them in a job — far more than the 69% of non-millennials who say the same.”

To enhance your existing growth opportunities, make training available 24/7/365. With the proliferation of online training resources, businesses large and small can provide access to vast and comprehensive educational resources.

5. Showcase How You’ll Use Their Skills

Millennials want to feel like they’re contributing to their full potential. In the same Deloitte survey we mentioned earlier, only 28% of workers in this age group felt that their current organization was making “full use” of the skills they have to offer, which contributed to feelings of disloyalty. Make it a point during your recruiting process to highlight the particular skills that make a millennial an attractive candidate for your company and how you plan on leveraging them to advance the company’s goals.  

This generation also wants to feel like they have the resources and support they need to thrive in a new job.  In a Qualtrics survey⁷, millennial employees said they expect employers to offer the following:

  •       Sufficient training (40%)
  •       Goals and expectations to be clearly established (31%)
  •       All the information they need to get the job done (30%)
  •       Reasonable goals and deadlines (26%)
  •       Leaders who are demonstrably invested in their success (23%)

Showcasing how you’ll set millennials up for success helps them see where they’re headed not just in a new role, but within the company, which can promote greater longevity.  

6. Promote Diversity

Millennials want to work at diverse companies. 74% say⁸ their organization is more innovative when it has a culture of inclusion. But what exactly does that mean? 

For millennials, the term “diversity” covers everything⁹ from racial, gender and sexual differences to differences of perspective and opinion. They believe that the pursuit of such diversity should be the rule rather than the exception. That should come as no surprise, since millennials are the most diverse generation in the workforce to date, with 44% of workers in the age group categorized as belonging to a minority.

Millennials are more comfortable than some of their older peers with having potentially uncomfortable conversations, like those that arise around workplace diversity, and are more likely to embrace the chance to engage on the topic rather than shy away from it. As an employer, you can appeal to this preference among millennials by showcasing the ways you promote and advance a culture of inclusion within your company. 

Work with a Recruiting Firm That Understands Millennials

Is attracting millennials to the workplace something your business struggles with regularly? You’re not alone. This is a challenge many clients are facing when they meet with us. The professional staffing team at 4 Corner Resources (4CR) is here to help.

Employing proven strategies and best practices, we attract, source, and screen the best candidates for clients across a variety of industries — everything from IT to legal support to healthcare. Speak with one of our experienced and knowledgeable recruiters to see how our professional staffing services can meet your staffing needs.


Resources and Sources

  1. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/07/24/baby-boomers-us-labor-force/#:~:text=Rather%2C%20the%20Boomer%20labor%20force,most%20of%20whom%20have%20retired.
  2. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/231587/millennials-job-hopping-generation.aspx#:~:text=Millennials%20have%20a%20reputation%20for%20job%2Dhopping.&text=Gallup%20found%20that%2060%25%20of,workers%20who%20say%20the%20same.
  3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jessicalutz/2017/11/30/millennials-are-slowly-killing-salary-secrecy-and-thats-a-good-thing/?sh=1f897866015b#178665756015
  4. https://time.com/5353848/salary-pay-transparency-work/#:~:text=Companies%20like%20Whole%20Foods%20and,salaries%20publicly%20on%20their%20website.
  5. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/gx-millenial-survey-2016-exec-summary.pdf
  6. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236438/millennials-jobs-development-opportunities.aspx
  7. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/21/the-no-1-millennial-need-from-a-new-job-and-new-boss.html
  8. https://oie.duke.edu/how-millennials-are-solving-workplace-diversity-problem
  9. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/245084/ways-millennials-advance-workplace-diversity-inclusion.aspx

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the president of 4 Corner Resources, the nationally acclaimed staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. His mission back then was the same as it is today: to do business in a personal way, while building an organization with boundless opportunities for ingenuity and advancement. When not managing 4 Corner’s growth or spending time with his family of six, you can find Pete sharing his sales and business expertise though public speaking, writing, and as the host of the Hire Calling podcast.