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6 Ideas for Corralling Millennial Employees, from Two Millennial CEOs

Are you suffering from a talent crunch? Are you having a hard time filling certain positions, or attracting and retaining millennials? Well, you’re not alone. And to find answers to questions that many mid-market firms have—including, probably, yours—we went straight to the horse’s mouth: a mid-market firm that is run by millennials.

At first glance, Power Home Remodeling Group seems an unlikely company to emerge at the top of the new Fortune list of the “100 Best Workplaces for Millennials in the U.S.” The Chester, Pa.-based mid-market outfit isn’t a tech company and it isn’t in a hip city.

But the firm achieved that rank based on anonymous responses of nearly 90,000 millennials in an assessment survey. Other, more expected, honorees included Google and Twitter.

One reason the exterior home-remodeling company did so well presumably is that its co-CEOs—Asher Raphael and Corey Schiller—are millennials (35 and 33, respectively) who started out in entry-level jobs at the company on the same day in 2003. Twelve years later, in 2014, they became co-chiefs.

“It starts with the belief that millennials can be your best advocates and best workers.”

Of the 1,500 employees of Power, about 84% are millennials. The company focuses on empowering employees and creating opportunities for advancement, helping it to overcome the general lack of allure for Generation Y of a home-remodeling company.

There aren’t many explicitly millennial-oriented perks; no game room, for instance. But Power does emphasize the use of appropriate technology and pays well for top performers.

Raphael shared 6 other lessons about making a company attractive to millennials.

1. Believing in them. “It starts with the belief that millennials can be your best advocates and best workers,” Raphael said. Because they inevitably are going to comprise a greater and greater percentage of nearly every company’s workforce, he noted, “clearly companies have to deal with this new workforce, and most large companies aren’t run by millennials. They feel that there’s an adversarial relationship with them, and there’s a resentment about what this generation represents. If that’s your starting point, that’s a problem.”

2. Understanding how they think. Millennials really don’t think that much differently than previous generations, Raphael insisted. “They’re looking for the same things as their parents did: They want to like where they work, they want upward mobility, they want earning potential,” he said. “So trying to make everything fundamentally different for them is a mistake. And if you treat them like a totally foreign object, like aliens, they’ll feel alienated by you.”

3. Appreciate how they are different. This comes down to two basic areas, Raphael said: Millennials have more mistrust for large institutions that previous generations, including government, higher education institutions, organized religion and large multinational companies. Yet, he said, “They want to believe in what they do and in something that’s greater than themselves; they’re actually longing to find it. And that’s where the biggest opportunity is.”

4. They want openness and altruism. Millennials require a transparent work culture to believe in their employer, and they prefer for “some type of service to be affiliated with their career,” Raphael said. “They’re looking to find the benefits of altruism in a corporate setting, where they can give back.”

5. Information is their currency. The generation “grew up with incredible access to information,” so companies must “create an earnings structure around that mentality. They think top performance should equal top pay.”

They want to have a voice. One result of having grown up with social media is that they believe in “democratized communications,” and they “want to have a voice in it,” Raphael said. “Whether they are a brand new employee or a long-tenured one, a top performer or not, they feel that right from their initial introduction to the organization, they want to be empowered to communicate. Creating several different venues for that to be possible is very important.”

As Power Home Remodeling has demonstrated, millennials are not that hard to corral—you just need to follow the formula.

Attend Chief Executive’s 2015 CEO Talent Summit, September 29th to October 30, in Dallas, Texas.


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