Today’s teens have disrupted many facets of our culture, from media to communication to self-expression. And now, they’re starting to disrupt the workplace itself. Last year, Millennials displaced Gen X as the largest generation in the workforce. With an improving economy and a much tighter labor market, employers are fighting tooth and nail for the best Millennial job candidates. Pay is important, and indeed, wages are finally starting to rise after years of stagnation.
But pay isn’t everything. Today’s teens and young Millennials are not only demanding a competitive salary, but also benefits and a corporate culture tailored to them. Employers are responding by offering benefits like greater training and development, more “work from home” days, more flexible hours, better work/life balance, community service days and corporate charitable initiatives. Most notably, some are even offering student loan paybacks. Fidelity Investments started offering this benefit last month, and PwC is scheduled to follow in July. The benefit is currently taxable, but there’s pending legislation in Congress to make the first $5,250 tax-free, as with tuition reimbursement
And beyond benefits, companies are changing their HR practices and their very culture to become more appealing to teens and early 20somethings. They’re providing continuous feedback instead of once-a-year reviews. They’re providing more qualitative reviews, since Millennials hate getting “3’s,” which they equate with C’s. They’re making their offices pet-friendly, and providing on-site pet care. They’re making senior executives available to everybody for questions and mentoring, regardless of title or seniority. They’re conducting ongoing employee surveys and implementing the results. And they’re infusing the work itself with a greater sense of purpose.
How can your company make itself more attractive to the youngest Millennial employees?
* Empathize with your teen customers. By engaging in a two-way dialogue with your customers, you’ll hear more about their fundamental needs, and you’ll be able to translate those not only into your product/service offering, but also your employment practices. If you hear their panic over rising student debt, you can design tuition-reimbursement and loan-payback programs. If you hear them talk about the stress in their lives, you can design work/life balance programs. If you hear how important pets are to them, you can offer pet insurance and bring-your-pet-to-work days. As important as it is to research tactical matters like new ads and taglines, it’s equally important to monitor the larger trends affecting your customers so that you can respond not only as a consumer brand but also as an employer.
* Empathize with your employees. As mentioned earlier, employers (and employees) are taking job-satisfaction surveys much more seriously these days, and companies are sharing back comment and acting upon them in a spirit of full transparency. Some employers have created employee insight communities where team members can connect, share their thoughts on the workplace, and respond to potential changes. Others have adopted comprehensive employee engagement tracking systems where happiness and pain points are monitored continually and acted upon. Both are equally important, and allow companies to review current and future corporate policies with employees, and then measure the success of those policies in driving engagement and satisfaction.
* Share your employee messaging with your teen customers. Once you listen to the life needs of your young consumers and employees; design policies to meet these needs; test the policies through an employee insight community; implement the policies; and monitor their success through engagement tracking, don’t hide it…flaunt it! Teen customers give their business to the companies most in tune with them, and they “vote with their feet and wallets” for the brands that promote the most progressive employment practices. You’ll also potentially inspire a young teen customer to come work for you some day, or major in a relevant subject matter. All of these are great outcomes, and they won’t happen unless you spread the word with teens.
As Millennials continue to “take over” the workplace, don’t let your company fall behind in the war for talent…start today to ensure they line up to join your team.