Creating an Optimum Workplace for Retaining Millennial Talent

April 12, 2017

Creating an Optimum Workplace for Retaining Millennial Talent

Millennials are the largest generation in the workforce today, making up 50 percent of the candidates for open positions. Employers across industries—ranging from consumer products, finance, health care, manufacturing, and more—are competing for top talent against technology giants and startups. To attract the best candidates in a tightening job market, businesses must demonstrate that they understand candidates’ values and needs.

The good news: It’s not all about the money. A 2015 survey by Accenture found that 59 percent of recent graduates, among the last of members of this generationn graduating from college (Gen Z will begin graduating this year), said they would rather work in a company with a positive social atmosphere than a place with a higher salary, and 52 percent said they would forego some compensation to work at a company with a strong commitment to the environment or the social impact of its products and services. 

Come to think of it, wouldn’t we all like to work for an organization that offers a positive work environment and believes in doing right in addition to doing well? I expect most of us do. And that’s why emphasizing organizational values and policies that appeal to Millennials in the labor market can help businesses attract and retain a diverse range of top talent.

So what do Millennials looking for in a workplace? Dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover factors that should appeal to top performers in any generational group. In a recent Gallup poll, 87 percent rated “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as an important factor in their jobs.  It’s critical for employers to let Millennials know how they're doing by providing honest feedback in real time and by highlighting positive contributions or improvements on key competencies. This is a best practice for all employees.

One of the most effective ways employers can do this is by creating or enhancing training and development programs. These programs may include on-the-job training, continuing education, and workshops that help employees develop themselves even further. Implementing structured systems will keep Millennial employees satisfied, making them more likely to stay with their employer.

Employers can attract and retain Millennials by creating a work environment that encourages healthy work/life integration. For example, at Kimberly-Clark, we offer people flexible schedules and the ability to work easily and productively from home as needed, so employees can meet their work and personal commitments most effectively. And we provide world-class wellness programs and onsite fitness facilities that help them achieve their health and fitness goals. We also offer programs to encourage people to bike to work.

To maintain a culture that engages Millennials, it’s important for employers to ensure their unique voices and original ideas are valued and accepted. This begins with the recruitment process. Kimberly-Clark recently launched the “Welcome Original Thinkers” program, designed to spotlight the value we place on innovative ideas and our openness to different thinking styles and new approaches to build our businesses and brands. Aimed at attracting talented candidates to our company, the program includes an engaging online quiz that helps people discover their individual thinking styles and apply this knowledge to succeed in their careers.

Your organization’s social impact and commitment is an important factor. The Millennial generation consistently indicates it desires opportunities to take on missions bigger than themselves. In your recruiting efforts and day-to-day communications, emphasize how your business is making a difference and operating in a socially responsible way. At Kimberly-Clark, we celebrate how we deliver products like diapers and facial tissue that make lives better for millions of people around the world. And we do it sustainably and responsibly, by respecting the environment as well as the communities we serve.

Remember that workers today don’t work for you—they work with you. Millennials expect their workplace to be collaborative and to embrace their values and idealism. They want to feel their contributions are valued and recognized. Understanding the factors that are important to them will help employers attract and retain the talent that continues to shape the future of the business world.

The Authors: 

Sue Dodsworth is vice president and chief diversity officer at Kimberly-Clark Corporation.