Even if you’re not a millennial, there’s a very good chance you work with a few.
If figures prove correct, 2020 marks the point at which millennials account for 50% of the workforce. Born between 1997 and 1980 they’re no longer a fringe generation in the world of work – they’re starting to dominate it.
But millennials have been tarred with a reputation of being “difficult to manage” and “flighty” for a while now - meaning some employers are hesitant to employ millennial staff and play it safe with the more predictable Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers.
But as millennials have grown up, with many of them starting their own families, their approach to work has become better defined.
They’re increasingly being recognised for their socially-conscious attitude, their need for purpose and their entrepreneurial approach to work.
Perhaps their previous feckless reputation was simply a case of youth.
Why attracting millennial talent is important for small businesses
There are several reasons that hiring millennial talent will help your small business.
Diverse teams are successful teams
Employ a broader cross-section of individuals and you’ll see better results. Studies repeatedly show that diverse teams – in terms of gender, ethnic group and age – are more productive and more profitable. And why wouldn’t you want that?
They’ll help you connect with your millennial customers
Unless you’re selling exclusively to older generations, hiring millennial employees will naturally help you connect with your millennial customer base.
Although the ability to connect and understand any customer group is a key skill, there’s no substitute for hiring staff who can directly relate to your customers.
You’ll benefit from their entrepreneurial mindset
Want a new process? A new way of talking to your customers? A different way of analysing your data runs?
Cultivate a culture of 'intrapreneurism' and your entrepreneurial millennial employees may be able to help you get there.
They understand the value of a strong company culture
Millennials want to be paid a wage - just like everyone else - but a purpose is more relevant to them than older workforce generations.
Because of this, they’re less likely to put up with working somewhere with a weak culture.
They like small businesses
A study by Sodexo found that 47% of millennials think SMEs are the ideal business size to work for. That's more than double the 19% who believe larger companies are the ideal size.
Technology and the future of work
There’s no getting away from the fact that technology will change the future world of work.
The industrial revolution transitioned work from small-scale manual production to mass-production. And, similarly, the digital revolution is moving our workforce away from the traditional office-based model to something more modern and productive.
Millennials are ideally placed to help guide SMEs through this technological change thanks to their need for flexible work patterns and love of technology.
And crucially, not only do they love tech, they understand its limitations. Knowing where to mistrust technology and understanding how to treat it with caution will help your business get the most out of the future world of work.
There’s a catch, though - not only do you need to hire millennials, you also need to invest in the right technology for them to work with.
And for that, you need to understand the technology that millennials see as a foundation for success. Which leads us nicely onto the next part...
What sort of technology do millennials look for in an SME?
Here are some key types of software that millennials may look for when looking at a new role:
If your set-up means you need to be in the office to access files and programmes, you’ll have a hard time convincing Millennials to join your business.
Millennials value flexibility and a healthy work-life balance - so prioritise tools that enable this.
Using cloud storage, accounting tools or HR software like Breathe lets your employees work from anywhere and on any device - whilst keeping your data safe in the cloud.
Millennials will be drawn in by the flexibility, and your business will thrive. What's not to like
Technology to help them develop
The millennial definition of success means personal development is crucially important.
Even if they’re not being promoted, they want to see that you’re interested in their professional growth.
That’s why giving your employees access to tools that will help them develop is worthwhile.
There’s a large choice, from HR software that visualises performance against goals and track their training progress to coaching apps that help them achieve key goals.
They’ll thank you for taking an interest in and supporting their development with their loyalty.
To digital natives, a business without a collaboration app could seem like it’s in the dark ages.
According to PWC, 41% say they prefer to communicate electronically at work rather than face to face or even over the telephone.
So whether it’s Slack or Monday.com, some form of collaboration space will help your millennial employees stay in touch and share ideas.
Could the company mobile phone be the new company car? Quite possibly.
Millennials are typically heavy device-users and will appreciate the way a work phone lets them separate their personal life from their working life.
Supply your employees with a modern device and load it up with useful and relevant apps. Bingo – they can now collaborate and communicate from wherever they are. More productive at a swipe!
So, to summarise...
Ultimately, Millennials are just younger versions of the generations that have gone before, they’ve just had different experiences shaping their expectations.
Take some time to understand them as individuals and listen to their input; you’ll find your millennial employees quickly become a valuable part of your business.