“Money can’t buy happiness.” A cliché we’ve all heard before, and one that’s proven true. Money won’t fix all of your personal problems, and it isn’t a silver bullet to eternal happiness. Professionally, however, different story. Right? Conventional wisdom has always been: better pay and better perks are the recipe to happy employees. But like most things conventional, millennials need not apply.
A company cannot grow without a team of employees who take ownership of the company’s future. Interviewing and hiring individuals who understand your brand, are motivated, and will not only respect but uphold the standards you have set for them is only the beginning. As an employer, keeping employees engaged and motivated once they’re onboard is as important, if not more important, than keeping your investors happy. Traditionally this meant promoting and giving raises to your best people. However, it has become apparent to employers across the country that millennial employees are simply not satisfied with a steady, well paying job. Millennials expect more than a paycheck.
A study conducted earlier this year by The Motley Fool revealed that the #1 reason younger employees were resigning from jobs was unhappiness with company culture and work atmosphere. This does not go to say that millennials don’t also desire high salaries, opportunities for raises, benefits packages, and job security. Rather, this means that the rising generation of professionals has added a bullet point to their list of professional wishlist.
This trend is apparent in businesses of all sizes. In a review of the popular YETI Coolers based in Austin, TX, a currently employee raved about the company’s culture above all else, saying “The employees take so much pride in the brand and company. Extremely passionate and talented people looking to make people’s lives more enjoyable! Collaborative, fun loving, and family oriented.” In this review, the employee rated Work/Life Balance, Culture & Values, Career Opportunities, and Senior Management all a dazzling 5 out of 5. This individual has chosen to take to the internet to rave about a job that presents them with values and opportunity over money. YETI’s strong sense of millennial culture and partnership and support with its employees has proven to outweigh its employees’ paychecks.
However, not all who try succeed. Among Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work for 2018 are Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. Each are cited as offering employees generous salaries and benefits packages, including paid maternal and paternal leave, health insurance, and an abundance of paid time off. However, the three lack opportunities for professional growth, like Facebook’s offer of lateral shifts but lack of true promotional opportunities. Perhaps this is the reason that these three companies are cited as having retention rates of 2.02 years, 1.9 years, and 1.81 years respectively, according to Business Insider.
It’s easy to say “This is just how it is” and proceed as you are, simply hiring replacements when a millennial jumps ship. But turnover is a major drain of time, energy and money. Retaining quality employees makes your job easier, your company culture stronger, and your likelihood of success greater. Instead of anticipating resignations, strategies for retention by establishing a list of values and a plan to put them into practice: rewarding strong employee performance with recognition in addition to money, and requesting feedback often.
Core values that matter
Having a set of meaningful company values will set you apart as an employer. These can be as simple as “Care,” and as complex as “Human Connection,” but the idea is to show employees that you value them, their work, and their time. Choosing values that align with your brand is your first step toward creating connections with your employees. Putting your values into action is the next. Purposeful internal communication and an office environment that reflect your values will foster genuine investment amongst your employees.
Rewards that reward
Rewarding your employees can be as simple as congratulating them on a job well done in a way that their co-workers can see. Pride will push young, driven millennials to work harder and achieve this praise again while simultaneously encouraging the rest of your employees to work harder and receive the same reward.
A more discreet way to reward employees is to show that you are aware of their interests. This can be as simple as planning a brief, daily meeting or taking time to catch up with them during lunch. Humanizing yourself in this way will give millennials the feeling of connection to their workplace, create a friendly and welcoming brand identity, and likely convince them to stay with your company long term.
Opinions that are heard
Requesting feedbacking from your employees will not only provide you with an outline of what needs to be improved, but will also let them know that their voices matter. Ask your employees why they chose to work for your company. Was it for the title, the pay, the company culture, or was it just an open position? Do they believe you have their best interest in mind or do they feel they deserve more from you? Do they believe they are receiving adequate benefits and compensation for their work? If not, what would they like to see change (aside from the expected request for a pay raise)? Do they feel like you genuinely value them as an employee and individual or do they feel like another cog in the machine?
The happiness that your millennial employees are seeking is not found in material things, but rather in the human connection they find with you, the employer. Finding the right balance of personal and professional can prove to be a challenge, but once you find it, your employees will notice. The next step is showing the world your employee-minded approach to business. Let this sense of connection and care be the forefront of your brand, because the key to keeping millennial employees engaged and happy isn’t perks, it’s people.
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