4 Facts Small Business Employers Should Know When Recruiting Millennials

March 16, 2016 Pete Jansons

According to the Census Bureau, there are more than 80 million millennials in the United States. Born between 1984 and 1994, this demographic currently makes up about 45 percent of the workforce, and their contribution is expected to grow up to 65 percent within the next 10 years.

These statistics are especially significant for small businesses where either a large portion of their workforces are nearing retirement or they are relying on young talent during their early growth stages. For these organizations, millennials are key to business growth.

In order to successfully recruit and retain millennial talent, it is crucial to understand the way they think and behave. Below are four important things to keep in mind when recruiting millennials.

1. They will hold out for the best opportunity.

Unlike their baby boomer parents, millennials do not abide by the maxim of settling into a stable job, putting down roots and staying until retirement. Many millennials are choosing to start their own businesses so they can be their own boss. Others are waiting for the perfect job comes around or changing jobs frequently. When recruiting millennials, speak to them about opportunities for growth at your company and the ability to have autonomy over their work, which will speak to their entrepreneurial spirit.

2. They insist on social and civic engagement.

Millennials seek out jobs that match their personalities as well as their skills. Most are collaborators who value social engagement at the workplace. According to a study by the Intelligence Group, nearly 9 in 10 millennials (88 percent) prefer a collaborative work culture over a competitive one. Small businesses that offer opportunities to collaborate with various teams and promote a culture of recognition will have a leg up when it comes to attracting and engaging millennial talent.

Community involvement is also important to millennials. According to the same study, more than 3 in 5 millennials (64 percent) say it’s a priority to make the world a better  place, and a recent CareerBuilder study found that “making a difference” is among younger workers’ top career goals. They seek out employers who take corporate social responsibility seriously and engage actively in such workplace initiatives. If social responsibility is part of who you are as a company, make sure millennials know it. For example, you may consider posting photos from company volunteer days or food drives on your company career site or Facebook page.

3. They want flexible work arrangements.

Millennials are disillusioned with the traditional “9 to 5” workday. The Intelligence Group study also found that a remarkable 77 percent of millennials want flexible work schedules. It is one of the reasons behind the dramatic rise of freelancing and the gig economy, characterized by temporary positions and short-term engagements. Small businesses that have provisions in place allowing employees to create their own schedules or work remotely are more likely to appeal to millennials.

4. They value meaningful work and professional development.

Young workers want to find meaning and significance in the work they do. They want to feel valued at work and have their voices heard. To this end, they expect managers to provide feedback and help them enhance their professional knowledge through training and company-sponsored certification programs. Millennials will also jump at the chance to co-lead on projects that excite them and appreciate the opportunity to learn directly under a mentor.

While professional development programs are expensive for small businesses, and it can be difficult to accommodate training and education into tight schedules, mentorship opportunities or cross-training programs provide low-cost ways for employees to develop new skills and diversify their current skill sets. Not to mention these programs promote collaboration and create stronger teams.

A thorough understanding of the challenges of recruiting millennials can help small businesses develop unique value propositions that appeal to the beliefs and attitudes of a younger generation of workers.


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