How to Hire and Retain Talented Millennials

As fast as Baby Boomers exit the workforce, Millennials—those born between 1980 and 2000—are coming in. Small businesses need to know how to recruit and retain Millennials, aka Generation Y.

Owners and academics are both weighing in on this issue, so we’re getting some good practical advice as well as a theoretical overview of the situation. Smart and creative small business owners should be encouraged; working in an entrepreneurial atmosphere ranks high on the list of attributes Millennials appreciate at work. Let’s look at some more.

Social media
All forms and applications of social media are important to Millennials. That’s probably not a surprise. Further, it’s so important they generally rate “social media freedom” above salary in importance. Creating a work environment that incorporates social media within job functions is a good strategy.

Your Millennials are going to be on and off social media frequently, find good ways for your business to be included in those interactions. By the way, studies have found that Millennials are very willing to tweet and post positive items about their companies.
There’s a flip side of this: be sure your business has a strong social media presence. Millennials will pour over your company on the web and in social media. Be certain your social media—and your website—provide ways to get employment information.

The personal touch
This might be in part a result of the “social media-zation” of Millennials. They prefer frequent, personal responses to their job performance, rather than those six-month or yearly official reviews.  Just as you would “like” something a person posts on Facebook, or write a short comment about it, be proactive in your timely approach to letting the Millennials on your staff know they’re doing a good job. Deliver compliments in realtime, not after a six-month delay. (But, of course, always be sincere.)

Building relationships with Millennials even before they are ready to start their careers is also a good strategy. Have an active internship program and network through the appropriate departments at local colleges.

Build loyalty
Every survey of Millennials indicates that they see frequent job changes in their future. This puts an added burden on the small business owner who wants to avoid turnover in key positions.  As I mentioned at the top, an entrepreneurial spirit is important to these young professionals. Provide them with freedom and room to grow. Allow them to take on added responsibilities. Listen and implement good ideas they offer.
Millennials want to enjoy work and they also tend to have an ethic that gives them a strong desire to make the world a better place. Keep spirits high in your company and be a positive force in your community.

Be flexible
Members of previous generations often defined themselves by their jobs and allowed their work to shape their lives. Millennials want work that fits their lives. Provide flexible schedules and telecommuting options as much as possible. Millennials will “blend” work with their lives almost every waking hour.

“The times they are a-changin’,” Bob Dylan first sang in the early 1960s. It remains true today and in the workplace, the changes Millennials bring are, to me, very exciting.

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