Culture is one of the critical aspects to decide the success of an organisation. A company that demonstrates a positive and engaging work culture is more likely to be innovative, productive, and long-lasting (in no short part because fulfilled employees tend to want to stick around for the long haul).
When recruiting young candidates, the presence of a positive culture within your workplace is a must. Compared to their generational forebears, Millennials tend to value job satisfaction very highly and are more likely to leave an employer who cannot provide an appropriate level of satisfaction and engagement. Last year, the Pew Research Center observed that Millennials are now the “largest generation in the U.S. labour force”, representing over a third of American workers. As Baby Boomers continue to retire and exit the workforce, the Millennial majority can only expand. It is incumbent on any company to thrive in this evolving landscape to nurture a culture that will motivate Millennials into positive long-term action.
It won’t be easy to prepare for the coming structural changes, but constructive change is never effortless. Large-scale cooperation at all levels in your organisation is vital in understanding and developing a positive work culture.
The leadership must be on board with policy decisions and follow through on them, and the rank and file need to know what is happening and provide real-time feedback. However, you can create positive change if you have a clear and definitive vision of what you want to achieve despite the challenges.
Now, what does a vision of a positive company culture entail? Let’s look at four targets that Millennials will love to see from their future employers:
1. Open Communication
Outstanding communication between employees is not just a matter of efficiency and creative cross-pollination — keeping employees in-the-know and allowing them to exchange ideas freely will make them more engaged and loyal to your organisation. Your employees should have a clear understanding of your organisation’s goals, what is being done to achieve those goals, and how they contribute to the bottom line. Your co-workers should also feel comfortable sharing your ideas and concerns with your coworkers and higher-ups in an open and free-flowing platform.
Millennials thrive exceptionally well in organisations that promote open communication and collaboration. They like constant contact with their supervisors. Supervisors should provide Millennial employees with frequent evaluations (rather than the stale standard of annuals) of their work and ask for opinions. The opportunity to develop a strong relationship with a supervisor is viewed as especially important and can go very far toward creating a culture of collaborative loyalty.
2. Flatter Hierarchy
Millennials don’t have the same regard for rigid authority as their forebears. When they immerse into your organisation, you can probably expect them to be informal in their composure, with everyone from the janitor to the CEO. Organisations should take note of this and adjust (within reason) their hierarchical barriers.
Google is a striking example of a company that has excelled with a relatively flat hierarchy. The Harvard Business Review describes its culture as one that allows freedom. Their employees can be creative and have a voice in the company’s decision-making process. However, this amount of space also comes with the responsibility to give compelling reasons to defend their ideas.
Google does maintain a multi-level hierarchy (In 2002, they unsuccessfully experimented with eliminating management). Still, they actively avoid hierarchical barriers and encourage employees to make decisions independently and speak up as needed.
Google’s situation would undoubtedly be revolutionary for more than a few organisations, but there are certainly some stylistic beats for a more moderate approach to take note of. Innovative ideas shouldn’t be halted at inception because they hail from someone far down the totem pole. Managers and executives should be receptive to their subordinates’ ideas and seek opportunities to speak on an even level with them. As workplace cultures shift to a more autonomous structure, organisations demonstrating stale leadership will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage in the coming decades.
Flexible hours and telecommuting are desirable perks for younger workers. Employers should recognise that many Millennials’ have a “work to live, not live to work” mentality. They want to engage in pursuits outside of work and are willing to go to great lengths to have an excellent work-life balance.
This demand can create tensions with employers, many of which have held long hours at the office as an expectation. A global study by Ernst and Young says that 1 in 6 Millennials believe keeping a flexible work schedule has negatively affected their careers and that inflexibility and excessive hours are two of the most common reasons for job changes.
Employers should flow with this changing expectation of work-life-integration.
Employees with flexible work arrangements (you know, executing overtime in pyjamas) have been shown to be happier, healthier, more productive, and more loyal.
4. Bonding With Coworkers
The discussion of work-life balance should not be taken to mean that Millennials don’t want their work lives and social lives to intersect. Employees should be given opportunities to forge meaningful bonds with their co-workers outside of the office context. Parties, dinners, philanthropic events, sports leagues, and the like are great opportunities to break down barriers between employees of different levels.
5. In Conclusion
There is a fundamental culture change coming in the labour force. Employers can either embrace it or risk cultural stagnation. Organisations can meet this challenge (we like to think of it as an engaging opportunity) by crafting positive cultures in which employees are valued and engaged. Creating a magnetic culture can a challenge, but any forward-thinking company can and will thrive at the challenge.
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Ha, Minh Nghia is the Junior Marketing Executive at Rakuna, a cutting-edge recruiting operation, and marketing platform. I write with a passion to support Talent Acquisition Leaders in their recruiting endeavours.