I attended a supply chain conference this past May. The average attendee had to be at least 50 years old; there were just two of "us" (millennials) in attendance. Much of the first day's discussion centered around how to attract millennials to the purchasing industry. Concerns that we have limited attention spans, we want everything now, we bounce from job to job, we are entitled and that we have substandard work ethic were expressed. I thought it a bit ironic that no one asked me or the other millennial for our perspectives, so I spoke up. I highlighted the positive attributes we can and do bring to the workforce: information sharing, compassion, caring about a greater cause, creativity and innovation.
All that being said, here's how to attract us creative types and innovators.
We care about the greater good. It's not just about the profit today, but how what we do today affects our peers, friends and families five years from now. How do our actions affect the planet? Let your employees know how their work is contributing to the greater health, wealth and livelihood of the company and the world. Be open and clear about the cause and effect. Let your employees know that their actions will help improve the end game for the greater good. Start the conversation and then step back and listen. Your company's mission should evolve and improve
through your employees. Ultimately, your employees should not feel like employees at all. We millennials want to feel like we are part of a family.
HAVING THE RIGHT LEADERS
We know that we work for our bosses. But if we don't like our bosses, we are happy to leave and find another company that has managers more in line with our goals and purpose. Hire or teach your leaders to be strategic, inspirational, forward-thinking — and be real people that we can relate to. Listen to "us."
We like feedback. But we want that feedback in real time versus a traditional once-a-year performance review. We want to know how we can improve and become better contributors now. Set up a mentorship program. Allow mentors and mentees to spend quality time together, but don’t make it too formal. Allow us to guide the relationship and let the mentors know how they can be of most value.
We aren't always fond of an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. We perform at our best when there is
flexibility in our schedule. We might work a few hours in the morning, then take a break to workout, play with our kids or visit the dentist. Then we can resume work in the afternoon when we are recharged and ready to focus. Empower your leaders to give millennials the flexibility they need to perform at their best. Focus on the results, not on how much time you see us sitting
at a desk. Consider allowing us to work from home at least two days a week. Working at home allows us to structure our schedules to maximize productivity.
Millennials check their social media outlets for news, entertainment, sports and just about any information we need. We like short, concise information as opposed to long, clutter-filled, tedious reports. Adjust the way you communicate with your employees and your customers. Don't send formal written notices. Consider developing an internal company platform to post information online, such as company wins, employee of the month and inspirational quotes. Encourage us to engage with other employees online and talk about new ideas.
Now that you have "us" and like "us," how do you keep "us" at your company? We are contributors. We like to be involved and offer ideas and suggestions. We don't want someone always just telling us what to do. We want to be a part of the process to help make things better. Schedule regular time for leadership to meet and talk about strategy and vision and how to solve the problems within the company. We have thoughtful, innovative and sometimes even fun ideas. Have innovation meetings at least once a month with people from different departments. Many of the best ideas will come from employees working in the business. Be a good listener.
Sarah Scudder is chief growth officer at The Sourcing Group.