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How to Attract Millennials: Talent Acquisition Secrets from 7 Top Brands

There’s a stereotypical image of a millennial as an avocado toast-toting kid that’s glued to an iPhone, where they scroll through Instagram and destroy industries like napkins and golf.

The reality is that in 2020, millennials now range from their mid-20s to late 30s. And it’s estimated that by 2025, just five years from now, millennials will make up 75 percent of the global workforce. That means businesses that ignore millennials’ unique wants and needs are about to get left behind by this generation.

To stay competitive, businesses need to be thinking about how to attract millennials (and then keep them for the long term). For many leading organizations, that means implementing new practices and strategies that will cater to what millennials look for from their employers.

Looking for the best strategies your company can use to attract and retain millennials workers? We’ve got those, plus some examples from the brands where millennials love to work.

Why Millennials Matter for Businesses

Since 2016, millennials have been the largest generation in the global workforce. There are 1.8 billion of them in the world, and around 73 million of them in the United States. Ignoring this generation means ignoring the majority of the workforce, which means this generation is important for every business looking to stay competitive in the war for talent.

But there are more reasons businesses should be focusing on attracting and retaining millennials than just their sheer numbers.

Millennials are the most educated generation ever, as the share of young people with college degrees has been steadily climbing since 1968. 39 percent of millennials have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 29 percent of Gen X, 25 percent of Baby Boomers and just 15 percent of the Silent Generation. By and large, they’re smart, talented and driven to succeed. 

In short, millennials are the idea-generators and innovators that drive business growth and competitiveness. Companies should be making a serious effort to recruit them.

How to Attract Millennials to Your Company

To understand how to attract millennials, you have to understand what the majority of millennials want from their employers. Of course, every person is different and we’re using broad strokes here, but in general, they have different needs and desires than past generations. This is in large part because the world of today looks so different than it did for past generations.

More than their older peers, millennials tend to value:

  • Experiences over possessions.
  • Overall health, including physical, mental and social health.
  • Ongoing educational opportunities and mentorship.
  • Diversity and inclusion.
  • Passion, purpose and creativity.
  • Loyalty, from their companies and their peers.

Keeping those wants and needs in mind, these are some of the strategies companies are using to be more attractive to the millennial generation.

Give Employees Plenty of Autonomy

More than previous generations, millennials value autonomy in the workplace. They want to choose what they work on, when and how—in other words, they want to get their work done, but also have control over when and how they do it.

One easy way for businesses to offer their workers more autonomy is with flexible schedules. Work-from-home days, flex hours and once-a-month Fridays off are just a few ways some companies are making their flexible work hours more attractive to millennials.

And millennials aren’t the only ones who will benefit from increased autonomy at work. A study from The Office Club showed as employees of all ages gain more control and autonomy in their positions, their job satisfaction goes up, too.

Create Values That Align with Millennials’ Goals

Millennials are unique in how they value things like creativity, passion and collaboration at work. In fact, Undercover Recruiter found many millennials prioritize having a job that’s meaningful to them over higher pay.

That means a great way to attract millennial workers is to create positive company values, and then practice those values all the way from the recruitment stage. A purpose-driven company attracts purpose-driven people, and that’s especially true when it comes to millennials. 

A company that’s doing this really well is Patagonia. Millennials make up 61 percent of their 1,798 employees, and 91 percent of them say it’s a great place to work, and it’s had a spot on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list for the last six years.

Use the Latest Tech Tools

Millennials grew up at a time that has seen technology advancing at lightning-fast rates for pretty much their entire lives. They’re well-versed in the latest tech tools, which means they’ll feel out of place in a job that’s too old-school.

Using the latest technology (especially cloud-based tech that can be accessed from anywhere) is something millennials have come to expect from their employers. It’s also good for business as these tools focus on speed, efficiency and connection.

Provide Opportunities for Continuous Learning

Millennials place a high value on their professional development. They love having mentors and opportunities for continuous learning. This could mean having spending accounts for learning and development that employees can use for the skills or development of their choice, and/or having a mentorship program in place for all fresh hires. 

In general, millennials aren’t looking to get into a workplace and do the same job for 40 years. They’re looking for ways to grow, learn and expand their skill set. Workplaces that provide educational and professional development opportunities for their workers will attract more millennials than workplaces that don’t.

Plan to Invest in Employee Engagement

Millennials want to be engaged in their work, and the best way to get them engaged is to show them they’re a valuable part of the team. Offering training and clear paths to advancement can help. It’s also important to give workers interesting, meaningful work, rather than rote tasks or busywork.

This is another strategy that will especially appeal to millennials, but will benefit your entire company—a recent Gallup poll showed businesses with highly engaged employees see their profitability increase by 21 percent, and absenteeism decrease by 41 percent.

Offer the Right Benefits—In the Right Way

Millennials are faced with a more complex and challenging healthcare environment than any generation before them. Out-of-pocket costs have risen roughly 60% over the last decade as employers cost-shift to cope with the rising costs of providing employee healthcare benefits. A recent study conducted by the Harvard Business Review and League found that 25 percent of employees would rather have more robust benefits over a raise in pay.

What’s more, millennials see health differently than previous generations. It goes beyond physical health to encompass lifestyle and well-being, and they place a lot more value on social, mental and financial health. Flexible offerings like spending accounts are an invaluable tool businesses can use to appeal to this generation.

And this is another area where rethinking the employee experience will give businesses a big competitive boost. By making health and benefits easy to navigate, understand and use, employees can get what they need, when they need it—helping them live the healthy lifestyle they really want. Forward-thinking companies know the value of having total rewards that include comprehensive, flexible benefits packages on an easy-to-use digital platform.

7 Brands that Have Figured Out How to Attract Millennials

What better way to learn how to attract millennials to your company than looking to the brands that are already succeeding? 

These are the businesses where millennials love to work, and they all have lessons other companies can learn to make themselves more attractive to this generation. Take a look at how these six companies are putting the above strategies to work.

General Electric

Millennials overwhelmingly want feedback on their work—50 percent more often than employees from other generations. That’s why, when looking to attract a younger workforce, General Electric scrapped the annual review process it had been using for more than three decades.

Instead, GE now uses an internal communications app that makes it easier for workers to receive real-time feedback if they want to. This fits into the ways millennials tend to operate: Faster and on mobile devices. It puts the company in a great position to appeal to this younger generation of workers.

PricewaterhouseCoopers

Despite declining rates of homeownership, millennials are more likely to have significant debt than their older peers—because of student loans. The average graduate with a bachelor’s degree owes nearly $30,000 in student loans, and that number is even higher for workers with more advanced degrees.

That’s why business consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers offers an employment benefit that’s tailor made to appeal to millennials: For employees who have been with the company at least a year, PwC offers up to $1,200 a year to be applied directly to any student debt they have.

Unilever

This consumer goods company was looking for new ways to show their commitment to the health and well-being of their employees. They digitized their benefits programs to offer a more modern and streamlined employee experience that’s more in line with millennial expectations. They also added live chat concierge services for health benefits support and offered flexible benefits that employees could use to suit their unique needs. It all came together in a digital wallet that was simple to access and use.

Like other forward-thinking companies looking to attract millennial talent, Unilever made it easy for employees to stay on top of their mental health, preventive health and holistic well-being. It worked, too. Engagement levels went up, and employees took advantage of their new and flexible benefits offering.

Netflix

Millennials really prioritize work-life balance, and that’s even more true as the generation is beginning to build families. Currently, more than 80 percent of new moms are millennials, which means company benefits related to family leave are extremely attractive to this generation.

Netflix has made a serious effort to attract and retain talented millennial employees, and that has meant instituting a groundbreaking policy that provides up to a year of paid leave for new parents—both moms and dads. Parents can take as much paid time off as they want in the first year after their child is born or adopted, and when they do return to work, they have the option of coming back with part time hours, or alternating stretches of work with paid vacation to help ease the transition. In the U.S. especially, where companies aren’t legally obligated to provide any parental leave at all, this kind of benefit is extremely attractive to younger workers with plans to start families.

Google

There are many reasons Google consistently tops lists of places millennials want to work. Google is the king of offering unique, comprehensive perks. 

Everything from free catered lunches to paid sabbatical to months of paid leave for new parents can be had by Google’s employees, but it’s the company’s focus on health and wellness that makes it particularly attractive to millennials, one of the most health-conscious generations ever. Right on Google’s campus, workers can visit doctors, nurses, chiropractors, dieticians, physical therapists and more. The company makes it easy to take care of your body and health, right at work.

AT&T

Millennials who value ongoing training and professional development love to work at AT&T, where career growth is an important value. The company offers a program called AT&T University, where workers can take onsite and virtual classes in leadership, management skills and more.

This means when AT&T has openings in leadership positions, it can prioritize hiring from within, giving career advancement opportunities to workers who take advantage of the company’s educational tools. Not only does this make AT&T an attractive place to work for millennials, but it cuts down on employee turnover for the company.

Dow Jones

Paid leave isn’t the only benefit that appeals to workers who have or want to start their families. As millennials become the largest age group to be having children, they’re attracted to all kinds of perks that make work a family-friendly place.

Dow Jones is known for doing this by offering classes to help support new parents, as well as onsite childcare and summer camps so parents don’t have to worry about where their kids are while they work. Not only does this help Dow Jones attract millennial workers, but it helps keep them employed at the company after they become parents, too.


Attracting Top Talent Means Attracting Millennials

Millennials make up enough of the workforce that companies that don’t try to recruit them are likely missing out on some of the top talent in their fields. One of the best places to start is with your benefits strategy.

From fostering a work environment that promotes meaningful company values, to delivering health benefits in a modern way, these strategies will help companies meet the diverse wants and needs of the millennial generation.

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