by Dr. Colleen Batchelder
For years, companies have tried to figure out the one answer that would win Millennials to their company. They’ve hosted Quidditch tournaments, installed game rooms, and held ping pong Olympics for their employees every Friday night. However, these fun and games might have worked for a while, but in 2020, they’re falling flat and not engaging or even entertaining Millennials anymore.
According to Gallup, “Contrary to popular belief, Millennials, when applying for jobs, place little importance on whether a company encourages creativity, is a fun place to work or offers an informal work environment. In fact, Baby Boomers are more likely than Millennials and Gen Xers to say that creativity and fun are ‘extremely important’ to them when applying for a job.”
In many ways, creativity is the frosting; not the cake. This is why, if companies want to engage Millennials, they have to invest more into the ingredients for the cake than the frosting.
Millennials want more than cereal buffets, game rooms, and rock walls. They want more than entertainment and enticement. Millennials want to work for companies that want to work with them.
Engaging Millennials is not rocket science. But it does take work. It requires leaders to reconstruct their perception of this generation. Millennials are not judging a company’s creativity. They are looking for companies that provide equal opportunities for mentorship, meaning, and education.
If you’re looking for ways to engage Millennials, then check out these three tips:
PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES TO LEARN
This is huge! Millennials are lifelong learners. They don’t see education as a means to an end. If anything, they see it as a journey that is continuous.
Millennials are the most educated generation. However, this abundance of education is not always based upon their love for learning.
Since 9/11, Millennials have faced multiple recessions, setbacks, and uncertainties. In many ways, this generation grew up believing that education was the only means for survival, financial security, and protection against economic downfall.
This is pivotal for companies to understand. For Millennials, their access to education equates to job security. This generation values diversity and the opportunity to gain insight. However, their interest in two-fold. Education is continued out of curiosity and out of fear.
OFFER OPPORTUNITIES FOR MENTORING
For Millennials, mentorship is a give-and-take conversation. It’s also a holistic relationship. If you’re planning on starting a mentorship program, then make sure you get feedback. Sit down with a few people and ask them what they need, how they want to grow, and what they want from a mentor. Once you know the basics of their expectations, you’ll be able to construct a solution that meets their needs.
Millennials see mentorship from a drastically different perspective than most.
Younger generations grew up with a lateral leadership model. This includes calling adults by their first name and conversing with elders like peers.
When Millennials came out of the womb, they were given all the privileges of adulthood, starting with the ability of choice. Children added their voice and their vote to family decisions. And their dreams were fully supported from a young age. In many ways, they grew up fully supported, valued, and heard.
Millennials were raised with the expectation of equality.
When being mentored, they expect to be on equal footing with their boss and their team. They also want mentorship to be a two-way conversation instead of a one-way conversion. One of the worst things that companies can do is try to make Millennials in their image. They’re not interested in being a carbon copy.
From birth, Millennials have been making their own decisions and expecting to be on equal footing with their parents, their bosses, and their peers. This is why, they’re inclination and preference towards lateral leadership is imperative to note.
If you want to mentor a Millennials, then expect every day to be casual Friday. They won’t be honoring hierarchy.
CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR MEANING
Millennials are not impressed with companies who do good for the sake of raising their numbers or increasing their followers. If a company really wants to engage Millennials and provide opportunities for them to find meaning, then they have to start at the source.
This generation wants to work for companies that offer opportunities for growth, meaning, and mentorship. They don’t want to serve the company’s agenda and pose for a photo op.
For Millennials, meaning is intrinsic to creating spaces of equality, diversity, and equality. In order to create opportunities for meaning, companies need to work with Millennials and invite these generations to the table. This means that executive leaders need to lean in and listen to their team before offering volunteer signup sheets.
Creativity, Quidditch tournaments, and ice cream socials might have been a top priority for younger generations when they graduated college. But Millennials are changing, and their needs are evolving.
If you’re looking for ways to engage Millennials at your company, offer them mentoring, meaning, and education. Give them cake; not the frosting.
As a Diversity and Inclusion Strategist and Consultant, Dr. Colleen Batchelder helps leaders create companies where Millennials want to work. Her doctoral background in leadership and global perspectives gives her an added edge because she approaches generational dissonance from all directions, including from an anthropological, theological, sociological, and ethnographic lens. Connect with Dr. Batchelder on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.