Millennials are notorious for their strong love of technology, ubiquitous social media posts, and text messaging, explains Monster, but they also show a marked preference for small businesses. Katie Bardaro, lead economist at PayScale, quantifies the issue by saying, “Forty-seven percent of Generation Y (Gen Y) workers are employed by small companies, compared to only 23 percent who work for companies with over 1,500 employees” – and they aren’t there for the money. In fact, salaries tend to lag at small companies in general.
So what makes small businesses so attractive to millennials? One big issue is that many millennials prefer flexibility. “Younger workers are drawn to startups because they offer more opportunities to meet challenges, make big decisions and work on their own terms,” explains Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding. “Research shows that Gen Y prefers meaningful work over big salaries.” In other words, millennials like to get involve with businesses that afford them a certain lifestyle while letting them really cut to the bone of your company’s mission – and the distinction matters.
By 2025, roughly 75 percent of the workforce in the United States will be millennials. Learning how to attract and retain workers in this age group now is one of the top small business best practices going forward.
Start by taking a look at what your company offers outside of pay. Do you have a casual culture? If not, you might want to reconsider. Millennial workers often shirk the 9 to 5. That’s not to say they are slackers. In fact, workers in this age category often work later and longer than many other demographics and they stay plugged in during off hours. Also, take a look at your dress code. From allowing tattoos and colored hair to letting staff wear jeans when they aren’t working face to face with clients, a more casual work environment is a top consideration for younger workers. They don’t want to have a wardrobe devoted to their work day any more than they want devices with divided duties, which brings up another point – tech policies. Offering wi-fi at work and allowing social media is a good first step. Many millennial workers practically live online, so access to social media is an important part of them feeling connected to their work, but take it a little further. What could you do to make sure that your millennial workers will enjoy their time at work as much as their off time?
Flexible Work Arrangements
Millennials aren’t so different from other generations. Their wants and needs are “strikingly similar to those of colleagues from other generations,” says Lori Goler, head of human resources at Facebook. “They’re looking for jobs that give them a sense of fulfillment or meaning, allow them to be authentic and play to their strengths, offer opportunities for learning and growth, and empower them to take initiative.” And, they want to do it on their schedule, with their own devices, wearing their favorite pair of jeans. When you offer flexible work arrangements, like setting your own schedule or working from home, young employees actually tend to see a bump in their individual productivity because they end up working more hours and staying more plugged in than if they blocked off 9 to 5 every day.
That said, millennials also care about social responsibility. You can turn your whole office into a rec room with free coffee and super fast wi-fi but younger workers need to believe in what you are doing. According to Deloitte, nearly half of all millennial workers will refuse an assignment if it contradicts their personal values – how many do you think decline jobs for the same reason? Start a conversation with your younger workers and potential hires to make sure that your company and the things you value are a good fit.