July 20, 2017
The millennial is elusive. For one thing, they’re just a collection of people who are roughly the same age, even though the category of “humans born in the 80s and 90s” covers a mass of different life experiences.
On top of that, plenty of misguided stereotypes exist that claim to define the millennial. They’re supposedly killing everything from diamond rings to the concept of buying one’s own home — never mind that the latter problem is attributed to millennials’ avocado toast budget rather than the actual cause, which is student debt.
If you are looking to attract a millennial to move across the country to your town and work at your company, you’ll need to know what they truly value.
Millennials Are Looking for a Work-Life Balance
Contrary to popular belief, millennials actually move less often than previous generations did at their age: According to a Pew research report from last February, just 20 percent of 25- to 35-year-olds reported having lived at a different address one year earlier, a number down from 26 percent of both Generation X and Baby Boomers at the same age. As with their slowing home purchases, debt and income inequality may be responsible.
Yet millennials are less likely to have a spouse or a child, which means they are relatively free to move, for the right opportunity. What could attract the movement-shy millennial to your company? A recent study from Universum Global has the answer. Young workers worldwide all love the same value: A proper work-life balance. TechCo chatted with several millennial-friendly companies to see how they worked towards offering a position and environment worth moving for.
What Millennials Move For: Meaningful Work
Millennials make up about 44 percent of the U.S. workforce at the edtech company Hobsons, and their Senior Director of Human Resources, Amy Broughton, emphasizes millennials similarity to all workers: They want to engage in fulfilling, interesting work.
“In my experience,” Amy puts it, “millennials tend to be bold and want to try new things. Also, they want to be included in the decision-making process, not just be told when decisions are made.
At the end of the day though, although there tends to be some generational differences, I would say millennials want what all workers want: They want to do interesting and meaningful work. At Hobsons, our mission is to connect learning to life by matching students to opportunity across a lifetime of education decisions. Each and every one of our colleagues plays a part in helping to make that dream a reality for students. There’s nothing more exciting — or meaningful — than that!”
This is a corollary to millennials’ interest in work-life balance: If they’re working in what they consider a meaningful position, their life will become more fulfilling as a result.
Build Communities Through Events
But a fulfilling job doesn’t exist in a vacuum. A business should create a sense of community, and running fun events outside of typical work hours can be a great way to do just that.
“Last month, we held the Starfish Going Mobile Hackathon,” Amy told me. “The event spanned three days and consisted of more than 50 developers, web designers, and user experience researchers and designers. Cross-functional teams iterated to create new mobile solutions that empower advisors and engage students.”
With a primary location in Arlington, VA, Hobsons benefits from a vitalized startup community, with everything from coworking spaces to mentorship opportunities. Millennials moving across the country will need a support group of people their own age. A company can’t control for everything, but picking a location with plenty of vibrant neighboring communities will make it more attractive to promising talent.
The CEO of media business VideoBlocks, TJ Leonard, runs the three-quarters-millennial company out of the town, proving that the Arlington area has plenty of similar community to engage.
“People want to come to work in an environment that reflects how they like to work,” TJ says. “They value flexibility both in terms of the types of spaces available in the office, as well as in their daily schedules. We evaluate the team based on results, and the ability to meet the commitments we make to each other. If that happens from your desk, great! If it happens from a couch in our reception area, great! If it happens from your kitchen table after dinner, equally as great.
[…] We have found that in addition to looking for a certain type of work environment, people want the ability to make an impact, and feel like their day to day is connected to our broader mission.”
Why Communities Matter
In fact, the concept of a community involvement more important than a nine-to-five workplace came up again and again in my discussions with millennial-focused companies.
“Traditional benefits like healthcare and 401k are considered commonplace,” says Alyssa Smith, Senior Advisor of Strategy and Operations at the cybersecurity consulting company Fortalice, ” we look to provide a sense of belonging and community. We want our employees to feel tied to our mission – using technology to connect to the greater good and protect and defend people, companies, and nations. Typically this resonates extremely well with our millennial staff, who are looking to be a part of something bigger when they come to work.”
Fortalice, which is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, currently has 23 on staff, over half of whom are millennials. Alyssa highlighted flexibility, work life balance, and community service as values they hold, noting that perks like a fully stocked fridge and a great workspace didn’t hurt either.
In the end, the companies that work well with millennials agreed: They didn’t aim to attract millennials specifically, they simply offered an engaged, meaningful community for all who wanted one. As TJ put it, “We don’t believe the desire to feel a sense of ownership or purpose in your work is specific to one generation or another.”
Read more about attracting millennials to your company at TechCo
Tech.Co has partnered with Arlington Economic Development to bring you this story. For more in this sponsored series: AED ecosystem.
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