How company culture can help attract and retain millennials

As far back as that ancient era known as the 1990s, it used to be salary, benefits, job security and advancement opportunities that drove job seekers to different employers. The organization that could offer the best salary-plus-benefits package – and maybe toss in some stock options – was usually the one that could land the candidate of its choosing. But those days are long gone – the latest waves of job seeking graduates are more interested in company culture and work-life balance than any generation before.

As a result, successful companies will adjust accordingly. Rather than remaining stubbornly traditional, employers should serve up an extra dose of flexibility, cooperation and start-up culture to attract and retain winning millennial candidates. But, hey, it beats getting into a bidding war with huge corporate competitors over the top talent. For the record, this trend isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon: Consulting firm PwC predicts that 80 percent of its global workforce will be made up of millennials by 2016.

Work? Play? The best organizations ride the line.Work? Play? The best organizations ride the line.

Focus on the extracurriculars
Most people say they work to live, not the other way around – but millennials are one of the first generations to bring that ethos into practice. Work-life balance is a must, and organizations that can’t accommodate the extracurricular needs of its millennial employees will likely find they are more than willing to walk out the door in search of greener pastures. However, some companies have already made the transition to more flexible scheduling.

PwC makes it clear to their associates that their personal priorities come first, according to CNN. Teams are expected to allow time for a weekly fitness class or a kid’s Little League game on occasion. McKinsey allows its employees 5 to 10 weeks of time between projects to pursue personal endeavors. The time off is unpaid, but the benefits remain – that’s the type of compromise millennials are willing to negotiate on and the type of flexibility that will keep those employees around.

“Millennials are sick of management examining their every move.”

Empower your employees
Millennials are sick of management examining their every move – they would rather have the freedom to get the job done where they feel most comfortable and at their own pace, so long as they meet deadlines. That’s why many of them respond well to work-from-home initiatives: When they sense their employer will trust them to accomplish what’s necessary in the time allotted, they’ll feel an extra sense of responsibility and appreciate that attitude.

Additionally, allowing millennials to take a break on the job builds teams and reduces stress – which, as it turns out, is a good thing for productivity, according to Brigham Young University’s publication The Digital Universe.

“More and more companies are considering the well-being of their employees and are providing social opportunities and perks to help employees manage and cope with stress,” Troy Nielson, associate teaching professor of management at the Marriott School of Management, told the publication. “If you have an opportunity to take a break and go play ping pong, that accomplishes building relationships.”

As millennials continue to dominate more and more of the workforce, it behooves employers to examine what it is those candidates look for in a company. Culture plays an increasingly important role, and while the inflexible, overly formal traditions of past generations may be on the way out, productivity and progress aren’t going anywhere.