The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “How can you help millennials feel like they’re part of the company?” is written by Tom Gimbel, founder and CEO at LaSalle Network.
I love millennials. They make up 75% of my company. Hiring hundreds of them over the years has helped me learn the nuances of what they value and how they’re motivated. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Understand what success means to them
You might not agree, but you don’t have to.
Where a lot of companies fail is trying to offer millennials “success,” but without speaking their language. For other generations, it was often about how much money you made and what your title was. For a lot of millennials, those things matter less than the company mission, feeling challenged, and making a difference in the organization.
As employers, we have to ask them what their passions are, what they’re good at, and how can we find a role that’s a great fit for both sides.
Be transparent about company goals
Most millennials don’t want to sit on the sidelines and be a cog in the machine. They want to understand the big-picture company perspective. Be open: What’s the organization’s vision for the next five, 10, 20 years? How do they fit into it? I always tell my staff that if we grow as a company, they grow. One doesn’t happen without the other. Being transparent helps millennial staff understand what their work means to the company, which motivates them to deliver on their end of the bargain even more.
Highlight career growth opportunities
Be candid about how success is measured in their role, and create an environment where hard work is rewarded.
“Growth” doesn’t just mean climbing the ladder vertically like it used to. Many millennials see professional growth as moving horizontally and trying different roles within the company. Moving internally allows millennial employees (and anyone else, for that matter) to discover new strengths and find the best fit for their skill set. And it increases the chances of the company having a loyal employee.
Provide consistent feedback
One of the reasons I love working with millennials is they’re eager to learn. They ask for more to do. They think about solutions—not the problem. They don’t want to wait a year to get better. They want to know what they can improve today. That’s where annual performance reviews fall short.
Companies like GE (GE) and Accenture (ACN) are trying new approaches to feedback. The secret? Consistency. Whether a millennial employee’s work product is excellent or poor, if you wait a year to give constructive feedback or recognize good work, you’re going to lose them.
Focus on company culture and create meaning
Motivated millennials want their careers to be more than just a paycheck. They want a sense of belonging. There’s no better way to provide that than by having great culture. You can’t fake the synergy you feel when everyone buys into the company way.
A lot of “experts” say you need ping-pong tables and kegs to attract millennial talent—wrong. While it’s great to have fun things, those aren’t culture. Culture is having an open-door policy with senior leadership. It’s investing in training to grow their skills. It’s creating an environment where their ideas are valued and they’re friends with their co-workers. At the end of the day, millennials don’t want to punch in and punch out. They want to contribute to something meaningful.