It seems like the dream of most Millennials — an open, modern office with windows, lounges, ping-pong tables, a smoothie bar and nap rooms.
Thanks to images of excess from some of Silicon Valley’s tech start-ups, a lot of executives come to me worried about their office environment. Will their lack of budget (or space) for a ping pong table put them at a disadvantage when it comes to hiring the best and brightest Millennials?
I tell hiring managers that while “perks” like those offered by giants like Google and well-funded start-ups like may attract Millennials, those cool office features don’t keep Millennials fulfilled in the long run.
Hiring is a serious expense and commitment, and if you want the best Millennials to stay with your company for more than a year, there are other things you can — and should — do.
1. Trust is one of the keys to helping Millennials feel professionally valued in the workplace. Allowing Millennials to manage their own schedules, and providing work-life balance assistance through telework or flexible hours shows Millennials that they are trusted. Although new Milennial employees may need guidance and limits on telework and flex scheduling to ensure the team is supported, Millennials like working for companies that don’t chain them to desks when they can work just as productively elsewhere.
2. Communication is critical — especially with telework and flexible scheduling. Millennials appreciate feeling like they are part of a team and understanding their role in a project or event. They crave engagement and comraderie, and they want to feel that their work and role is contributing to a greater good. Open, honest and frequent communication are key to making Millennials feel engaged at work.
3. Provide professional challenges. Despite the perpetual myth that “Millennials are lazy,” they actually thrive in workplaces that offer them challenging-but- achievable goals and projects. Setting incremental deadlines and targets, and communicating how their project and role fit into the company’s mission, will help Millennials see their path forward.
4. Offer mentorships. Millennials (and all new employees) benefit from and appreciate the value that mentorships provide. Millennials particularly have long-term thoughts but short-term patience spans when it comes to career goals and growth, and mentorships can help them understand how they can get from point A to point B by staying with your company. Mentorships can also help them see what skills they need to develop to get promoted, and companies that simultaneously offer these opportunities for professional growth and development are rewarded with employee loyalty.
Overall, Millennials aren’t looking for the coolest open-concept office or best smoothies at work. They do want an open communication culture and the best opportunities for professional growth. Flexibility with work-life balance will help, too. The companies that are able to show those perks are the ones that will attract the best Millennial employees, and keep them around for the long haul.