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How to Make Millennials Want to Work For You

October 13, 2016, 6:30 PM UTC
Millennials office work
Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto

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 Mary Beth McGrath, senior vice president of global talent management at Level 3 Communications.

One of the biggest challenges for an employer today is setting aside your stereotypes and evaluating if your workplace is actually an attractive environment for the millennial generation. If not, you’ll have to make some changes to stay relevant.

First, you need to show employees who you are beyond the balance sheet by communicating high-level company goals and how employees’ specific roles fit into those goals. According to a May Gallup study, 71% of millennials who strongly agreed that they know what their organization stands for and what distinguishes it from its competitors say they plan to be with their company for at least one year.

I saw this firsthand when Level 3 consulted a small group of millennials and discovered they prefer more frequent feedback for their performance reviews, rather than once or twice a year. We now coach our managers through professional development webinars and manager-specific internal communications to prepare for a shift in the frequency of providing feedback both about the company and employees’ individual roles.

Second, you can help your millennial employees become engaged in their communities. Millennials don’t check their interests in philanthropic causes at the office door. Organizations need to help employees connect to their passions in meaningful ways. We have an employee resource group (ERG) specifically focused on millennials. One of the group’s priorities is giving back to the communities where employees live. A sampling of their community outreach this year includes volunteering at our community garden, holiday gift-wrapping for a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping underprivileged children, and helping at a food bank.

Third, you should create a nimble work environment. Through our millennial ERG and our interns, as well as from focus groups and internal surveys, we have heard loud and clear that our employees desire work-life integration, not just balance. This means that they may do work at different times of the day, even when not in the office.


Offering flexible schedules is one way to achieve this. We allow individual managers to decide if flexible arrangements work for their teams. A recent study found that millennial employees in many industries feel rewarded by employers that let them decide when and where they work. Being mindful of how employees perform best enables teams to function more effectively.

Finally, it’s important to show millennial employees you value their input and contributions. Take time to better understand their individual motivations and how you can help them grow within your organization. We tested out a new way to do this last summer by challenging a group of interns to come up with new and innovative avenues for solving workforce issues. Topics ranged from attracting talent; to science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM) initiatives; to flexible work schedules. Each group researched their topic and interviewed various subject matter experts from within and outside the organization. At the end of the program, each group presented a proposed solution to a group of company leaders. Feedback from that program will help inform how we move these issues forward.