As the largest generation in the workforce, millennials are transforming the way businesses operate (Pew Research Center). The majority population, born between 1980 and 1997, is quickly replacing the baby boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1964.
As both a millennial and Kforce employee, I’ve had the opportunity to observe these work trends first-hand. From large Fortune 500 companies to small marketing agencies, I’ve witnessed how companies have responded to the unique needs of millennials. Let’s explore how employers are changing the way they operate, recruit and retain top talent.
Millennials have transformed the workforce into the new “gig economy” or employment based on a single project or task. An Upwork study estimates that in 2017, 35 percent of the U.S. workforce choose to be contractors, temp workers and freelancers instead of the traditional, long-term career path. This trend is a sharp contrast from the baby boomer generation, where employees often obtained 30+ years of tenure at a company before retiring. In fact, 30 million U.S. employees work independently as their only source of income. By 2019, this number is projected to grow to 40 million.
The increase in gigs over permanent positions reflects millennials’ affinity for flexibility. Millennials prefer to select where and how long they work, often ditching the typical nine-to-five workday for something with more freedom. Adapting to the gig economy requires that employers evaluate their company culture to ensure that it gives employees the flexibility they need to be happy (within means of course). Giving employees the opportunity to work from home has become a common practice among employers trying to satisfy their employees.
At Kforce, employees have the opportunity to work remotely. The ability to collaborate at the office, as well as remotely, motivates our team to better ourselves, as well as our company as we work forward in the competitive marketplace.
Millennials have different ways to get discovered online by potential employers more than any other generations before. With the advent of social media, job boards and online review sites, millennials are conducting research into a potential employer’s business values, culture and salaries before applying to a position.
Reflecting back on my previous job searches, I’ve experienced the way social media is transforming the application process. I’ve been hired by companies that reached out via LinkedIn and requested an interview via Google Hangout and Skype before making a phone call.
Mobile devices have now become an integral part of the job seeking process. A 2017 Glassdoor report states that 45 percent of job seekers say that they use their cell phones to search jobs at least once a day. If a company fails to create an easy, mobile apply process, they can expect millennial job seekers to search elsewhere.
Make social media work for your business. The 2017 Recruiting Brief reports that 1 in 4 job seekers use social media as a primary tool for job hunting; it’s crucial to use these channels as an opportunity to highlight positive culture, company perks and job openings. Targeted Facebook ads, recruiting via LinkedIn and responding to both negative and positive online reviews are a few ways to catch millennial’s attention on social media. Ensuring there is a mobile apply solution for your company’s website is critical, as well.
Innovative companies such as Google and Facebook have pioneered the modern office. Standing desks, exercise ball office chairs and complimentary K-Cups are now part of the norm. As research continues to document the harmful effects of extended sitting, millennials are demanding a change in office culture that promotes physical well-being. Sure, millennials in the workplace are changing office styles, but they’re improving it, by making it a place that aligns with employee values. These new office staples may seem like an unnecessary demand, but it’s a trend that many employers believe will increase productivity, health and overall employee morale.
Millennials ultimately want fun integrated into the office. Ping pong and foosball tables are the fuel that keeps this generation running. Companies like Kforce are creating a positive culture to attract and retain employees by offering fun, collaborative activities. At 3 p.m. when I’ve hit my creative wall, I can count on one of my Kforce teammates to join me for a game of ping pong down the hall.
Employees desire a personal life balance at work; deliver this to earn their loyalty. Try hosting a walking meeting instead of gathering employees into a conference room or encourage small stretch breaks throughout the day.
Making a positive impact on the world around them is a consistent value for most millennials, and they search for that attribution in potential employers. In the same way consumers demand more from the companies they purchase from, they’re holding employers to the same standard.
A study by Horizon Media’s Finger on the Pulse found that “81 percent of millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship.” Members of this generation want a company to align with their core values, not the other way around. Businesses are capitalizing on this trend by increasing philanthropy efforts and involvement in charitable initiatives, giving millennials the opportunity to be choosier about their employer.
To make employees have all the charitable feels, take note from Kforce and sponsor a “Day of Stewardship.” On this day, all Kforce associates volunteer a few hours during the work day with partnered charities. Also, be sure to highlight your company’s corporate responsibility initiatives online, where potential employees can easily access it.
Companies that fail to provide millennials with the work environment they enjoy will not be able to retain top talent. The Harvard Business Review reports that when employers don’t meet this generation’s work needs, they quit.
To gauge happiness inside the office, conduct an anonymous employee survey every quarter. Use the feedback to make your business a better place to work and enhance culture.
What can employers learn from all of this? Millennials are creating an idealistic workforce of their own - one that contains flexibility, fun and an identity that reflects their own. As the baby boomer generation continues to retire, the workforce will continue to change. Now more than ever, adapting to this trend is vital to recruiting and retaining talent.