You have to collaborate, not condescend.
The Fortune 500 Insiders Network is an online community where top executives from the Fortune 500 share ideas and offer leadership advice with Fortune’s global audience. Today’s answer to the question, “How do you attract millennial talent?” is written by Ken Lamneck, president and CEO of Insight Enterprises.
As business leaders, we need to understand and appreciate our newest generations in order to attract and retain them. My daughter is a millennial. Recently I asked her when she uses email, and she stated matter-of-factly: when she has to talk to old people. Keeping this in mind, I’ve found these strategies to be especially useful when working to attract and retain millennial employees:
Offer diverse opportunities
If you want to employ millennials, you need to be prepared for a rapidly changing workforce that requires flexibility and demands new experiences. There a few ways that companies are integrating approaches that recognize these needs.
For more junior employees who are first entering the workforce, you can offer temporary rotations with different departments. You can also put practices in place that allow employees to apply for different jobs within the organization when they become available. Another smart approach is to create opportunities and encourage employees to build or join strategic committees within the company. This can offer the flexibility millennials want to help build a diverse resume.
We recently rebranded and crafted a new statement of purpose: to build meaningful connections to help our clients’ businesses run smarter. Collaboration with all of our employees—especially millennials—was important to shaping this statement.
To ensure teammate voices from all generations were heard, we worked hard to make sure we solicited millennial input just as much as we did from those who have been with us for longer. We also specifically worked to gather feedback from millennials by conducting video interviews, so that their language and thoughts would be effectively conveyed in the end result. Since millennials make up a majority of our workforce, it was important that they were part of this process.
Once millennials have an interest in what your company does, they start to research your core values and purpose. They visit your social media sites, make their way to your press room, and look at your community efforts. In fact, according to a Cone Communications study, 82% of millennials ages 18–24 and 75% ages 25–34 consider corporate social responsibility efforts when deciding where to work.
If your company’s actions and core values don’t resonate with millennials, it’s not going to be a good fit. Unlike workers from my generation, millennials will actually take a job making less money if they believe in the purpose of their work. Inviting millennials into the planning process and soliciting their feedback ensures that everything from your purpose statement to your corporate social responsibility initiatives will resonate with them.
Amplify their voices
By challenging organizations to innovate and evolve, millennials have been impressive change agents who are pushing companies to create better workplace practices to meet current and future talent needs. Embrace their passion for change as a way to drive transformation in your business and your culture.
For example, we offer teammates the opportunity to help shape our company with our Shark Tank initiative, which has been successful in offering both professional development and workplace innovation at the company. Insight employees across the company have the opportunity to pitch the executive team, including me, on how to improve the workplace. One millennial got to lead the replacement of our intranet platform; another won for suggesting the idea that teammates could purchase an extra week of time off.
So what does this all mean? If millennials have a sense of ownership, enjoy the projects that they are working on, are offered opportunities to try new things, and are seen as instrumental in creating the culture of the company, they will want to remain with your organization for a longer period of time. Beyond loyalty and longevity, you will likely unearth some great talent—and they may very well become your best employees.