I hear many leaders tell me they’re struggling to engage their millennials. Common complaints include statements like these:
As soon as they’ve hit 40 hours for the week, they’re out the door!
Where is their work ethic?
Where is their loyalty and dedication?
Ah. If you’re asking those same questions, then you’re missing one important key to attracting, retaining, and motivating the millennial generation.
A cause worth fighting for.
Millennials, in my experience, are actually very loyal—to the things they believe in. They’re loyal to family, relationships, political parties, favorite music bands, organic diets, you name it. The cause might be different for each individual, but in general men and women of the millennial generation are passionate about standing behind something they believe in.
So I have to ask—what are you giving them to believe in?
As an organization, it’s imperative to define your cause and then find young professionals possessing a passion for that cause. Many companies are good at training their employees to do the job, but not so much at hiring people with a passion for the job—for the product or mission. In other words, they’re so focused on finding the talent that has the right expertise (checking the boxes of the job description) that they neglect to seek out the talent that has the right fit for their cause. And when that happens, employers spend a lot of time and frustration trying to convince their young talent to develop a passion for something they just aren’t passionate about.
So how do you define your cause? Frankly, sometimes it’s just a matter of semantics. For example, if I were to tell you that I need you to get involved in a community engagement project, would you get all fired up about it? Probably not. I mean, what is community engagement, anyway?
But what if I told you I need you to help me build a city. Whoa. Now that’s an exciting challenge worth standing behind.
Do you see? Community engagement, build a city. They’re basically the same thing worded differently. But this concept goes beyond words. How are YOU looking at your company’s goals and mission? Are you passionate about it? Do you understand how the work you’re doing adds value and makes a difference? If not, then how in the world will you ever be able to attract young talent with a shared passion for your cause?
One characteristic common among the millennial generation is what we call “parallel career paths.” Essentially, young professionals often work two jobs—one 40-hour workweek to pay the bills, and a second “side job” to fuel their passion. This might be anything from starting up their own business, to non-profit volunteering, to working at a local coffee shop where they enjoy the ambience and discount lattes. My own daughter’s third grade teacher is a yoga instructor and swim coach after hours. Is this because she needs the cash? Maybe. But more likely, these “side jobs” involve a cause she is passionate about.
So why aren’t your millennials giving up their parallel careers in order to devote more time to your organization? Because I believe those “side jobs” have figured out the key to engaging this generation. They say things like we really need you here, and you’re making a huge impact on our customers and our community. They’re showing their millennial workforce that they are significant and contributing to a greater good.
Are you doing the same?
- Define your cause.
- Find young talent with an inherent passion for your cause.
- Build a culture in which every employee understands their work is valued and important.
That’s how you’re going to attract and retain talented people with a fire in their gut to grow your business—for both their benefit and yours.