The best way to transform a company to become more Millennial-friendly is to combine an effective work culture with exemplary employee engagement. In the previous blog post we explained what these terms mean, and in this post we focus on how to incorporate both aspects in bringing about a change at the workplace. This approach is not only the prerogative of the Human Resources department, but also requires active effort from senior executives. However, it is important to mention that there is no single ‘right’ strategy that employers can adopt, and there are different methods which work well for different companies. This article offers several examples of companies which have successfully brought about a change within their organizations, and become even more attractive to Millennials.
#1 Provide hands on management
This calls for a shift from the usual hierarchical system of communication at the workplace. People in leadership or management roles need to be more involved and aware of ground-level tasks. Google’s work culture provides a great illustration of this. Google prides itself on maintaining an open culture, in which every employee is a hands-on contributor and comfortable to share new ideas and opinions. They also conduct a weekly all-hands meeting where Googlers are free to directly interact with founders Larry Page, Sergey Brin and various other senior-level executives. This is an excellent example of hands-on management helping to improve employee motivation.
#2 Develop a real mission and purpose
SouthWest Airlines follows an interesting model of this. Trying to challenge the usual icy attitude that people associate with airline companies, SouthWest is using employee engagement to change the perception of its brand. In January 2013, SouthWest offered its employees an ambitious and crisply worded vision; “We exist to connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.” This is reinforced every week, when CEO Gary Kelly gives a “shout out,” or publicly praises employees who go an extra mile to provide impeccable customer service. So far the strategy has paid off for Southwest, and their employees are motivated by the idea of achieving the noble ‘purpose’ of their job, which could otherwise seem mundane.
#3 Be inclusive
Millennials have witnessed a world that is more inclusive than ever, and constitute a cohort of formerly disadvantaged groups. The young, productive workforce now includes talented women, people from various ethnic backgrounds, and differently-abled employees. Therefore, a workplace needs to reflect the same, as Millennials will not support a discriminatory or restrictive company. Google is yet again at the forefront of this change. The company describes its workforce as highly inclusive, mentioning that the employees “hail from all walks of life and speak dozens of languages, reflecting the global audience” served by them. Apple, Nike and JP Morgan Chase were some of the earliest firms to offer transgender-inclusive health insurance policies, even including gender identity in non-discrimination policies. Facebook is not far behind, with an employee policy that is worded, “Be your authentic self. We’re dedicated to creating a workplace where everyone belongs.“ Millennials hold such values in high regard, and they are much-better mobilised towards the cause of universal equality.
#4 Create a healthy and fun working environment
Millennials are so particular about a healthy work environment, that about 70% of 2016 graduates are willing to accept a “lower salary” if their job offers a “positive social atmosphere.” Twitter is one of the best examples of a positive work environment. Employees at Twitter rave about the company culture, as it includes rooftop meetings and very sociable colleagues. Employees can also take advantage of free meals at the San Francisco headquarters and in-office yoga classes. It is no wonder that Twitter is an attractive employer for Millennials. However, this does not mean that Millennials need unbridled autonomy to work effectively. What they want is the freedom to be self-directed without a manager breathing down their necks, and being trusted to complete their self-assigned goals on time. Employers should instead work on encouraging employees to see a sense of purpose in their work, improve their intrinsic motivation and then create a healthy work environment for employees to achieve the best of their potential.
If you have any other tips for building a great millennial work environment, please let us know in the comments, or drop us an email! We’d love to hear from you.