How Companies are Successfully Attracting and Retaining Millennials

GettyImages-481292765-compressor“Old-school” tech giants like GE and IBM are investing heavily in “employer branding” to better market themselves to younger workers as proven “purpose-driven” organizations.

The company started by running a TV ad campaign encouraging millennials to give the “digital industrial” giant a second look. The ad worked and visits to the GE career site went up eightfold. Then IBM, with the aid of recruitment firm Uncubed, created videos “in which pierced-nose, flannel-clad hipsters talk about working at Big Blue,” helping the firm land 73 new engineers.

Career consultant Elaine Varelas has said companies can avoid claims of age discrimination by not targeting younger generations outright, but more subtly by focusing on specific media channels they’re likely to frequent, such as virtual job fairs, watching videos about companies they like on LinkedIn or Facebook, or seeing messages on Twitter from people they follow. Recruitment messages, she said, should focus on the specific skills required for the job and the kind of potential candidate who is most likely to be a good fit based on that.

“Companies should target specific skills and appropriate media outlets rather than focusing on the millennial age group outwardly.

In addition, employers wanting millennial workers should focus on instilling a healthy culture—which means not having unsupportive colleagues, excessively demanding bosses or constant ill-treatment, all of which can increase risk of heart disease, depression and high blood pressure.

Employers such as payments company Yapstone have implemented well-being initiatives, such as flexible time off policies that give employees “the trust and freedom” to manage their own time off. Millennials also are attracted to employers that provide training, fun perks and the ability to work from home.

Some companies like social media research firm Fizziology give their employees yearly stipends to travel—and not just for business meetings, but to find “inspiration,” according to speaker and workshop facilitator Stan Phelps. Then, after an experience staying in an Airbnb, employees give presentations at an all-staff meeting. Fizziology founders Ben Carlson and Jen Handley told Phelps that the program has engendered loyalty and a sense of gratitude among the team, and as a result, no one has left the Indianapolis company in two-and-a-half years—a rarity for many millennials.

Of course, companies wanting to attract younger people should never forget the biggest recruitment tool: offering a substantial market value salary “that reflects not only who they are, but who they might become” via a robust training and development program.

A key point to remember, however, is that millennials aren’t that different from older workers. Everyone wants to be treated well and fairly, work at something that is fulfilling and enjoyable, and to be made to feel “like partners in the company they work for, not just like hired hands.”

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert
Katie Kuehner-Hebert has more than two decades of experience writing about corporate, financial and industry-specific issues. She is based in Running Springs, Calif.

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