Millennials have now surpassed baby boomers as our largest generation, making this group key to achieving business success and growth. What’s more, there’s a very competitive hiring market for top performers in this group.
Like many companies, we have grappled with the workplace issues raised by the growing presence of millennials, a group that some have labeled (we believe incorrectly) as impatient, lacking in loyalty and far too busy looking at their cellphones.
Eighteen months ago we decided to take a fresh look at how we do things and see what it would take to attract and retain millennials. While we don’t have all the answers, what we’ve been doing at LBMC has resulted in improved retention of millennials, a strong recruiting program, and, most importantly, great ideas and hard work from a group of young people who some employers are giving a bad rap.
Our success with this group of employees revealed valuable lessons. Here’s what we learned:
Millennials want to be heard
The biggest lesson we learned about millennials is that it’s critical to listen to them — and all our employees. Really listen. Ask questions and then act on the ideas that make sense for them and the firm.
This process of listening and acting communicates that the firm takes its employees seriously and respects them — which is a key need for millennials. LBMC recently implemented two ideas brought to the fore through the listening process: standing desks for all employees as we transition to our new office space and two weeks of paid paternity leave (in addition to paid maternity and adoption leave).
Millennials want to have influence
Jessica Utley, LBMC’s human resources director, says that in addition to having a voice, millennials want to feel they are able to contribute — to have influence in the decisions made in the workplace.
“Millennials don’t expect to be the final decision-makers,” says Utley. “But by knowing and understanding that they are part of the process and have influence on the decisions that are made — they are more likely to fully support any initiative or change that might be happening in the firm.”
Millennials want work/life balance
Millennials working at LBMC have expressed a desire for more workplace flexibility and more opportunities to take advantage of technology. In response to that, we’ve implemented technology solutions that allow our employees to work productively in remote locations as needed. This allows their work schedules to fit their lives, fundamentally important at LBMC where we value the commitment to a balanced quality of life.
Millennials want to feel empowered at work
At LBMC, managers are informed of what it takes to become a partner and the expectations that come with that role. To further empower young employees, LBMC started a Young Professionals Group (for those in the first seven years of their career) and a women’s initiative, called the WIN@LBMC.
In addition, every young employee is paired up with a mentor with whom they meet regularly to discuss what’s going on in their career, what they are doing well, what they can improve on and how to continue developing their career path with LBMC. We’re also working on expanding our professional development program to ensure we are meeting the needs of our employees at all levels within the organization.
Millennials can teach us
While we may not have figured out everything that makes millennials tick, we have learned valuable lessons that benefit employees of all ages within our firm. One of the key takeaways from our millennial initiative is that we all have more to learn. Just as our millennial employees feel they can grow through the mentorship provided by more experienced members of our team, our leadership team feels the firm can grow by allowing our young employees to mentor us on what it takes to provide a fulfilling, successful workplace. In other words, we’re learning from each other.
As a result of our efforts to attract and retain millennials, LBMC was named one of the 25 Best Places to Work for Recent Grads in 2016, based on work-life balance, culture, mentoring, benefits, training and employee rankings. As a company, we look forward to learning and growing together as we develop a multigenerational workforce.
Jeff Drummonds is CEO of LBMC, a premier Tennessee-based professional services firm. Contact Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-309-2224.