There is much to think about when trying to attract and retain the right employees for your company. Each of your employees likely came into your company bright-eyed and ready to start a new chapter in their career. At first, everything was exciting, as they were learning something new and meeting different people every day. But, after a while, the excitement wore thin. It takes continual maintenance and check-ins to keep your employees challenged and loving their jobs—especially for those companies that have expanded their remote workforce

Millennials, the generation born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s, are now a solid part of the American workforce, comprising over 35% of all employees. Keep in mind these characteristics of millennials when working with this generation of workers.

Five Characteristics of Millennials in the Workplace

What are Some Characteristics of Millennials?

1. Millennials are technologically savvy and connected.

Make sure that you and your team stay up-to-date technologically and with your social media presence. If you’re using antiquated technologies in your business, millennials need to know that you are moving toward more updated technologies and look forward to having them help contribute to the process of updating technology.

2. Millennials are transparent.

As you interview millennials for a position, you can use social media to find out more about them. This can be a great tool to give insight on how to manage them, what type of person they are and how to help them be successful should you choose to hire them. Because of their level of transparency, it is important that you are transparent about your position and company in the interview process. Be sure to tell them the good and bad details about the position and company.

3. Millennials value straightforward management and recognition.

This generation needs to feel that their job is important and receive recognition for their performance. Many millennials grew up raised by Baby Boomers who offered them constant praise. During the interview process, let them know the position they are interviewing for is important to the organization and will make a valuable contribution. They need to know that their work will be making a difference. Also, lay out a review process so that they know that their performance will be recognized and discussed periodically. When their performance merits praise, recognize them publicly.

4. Millennials desire diverse work and collaboration.

Millennials have grown up constantly multitasking. They are hardwired to have a lot going on at once. Add diversity and additional responsibilities to the position that will allow them to multitask and collaborate with others.

5. Millennials are attracted to positions that offer a work-life balance, flexibility and career advancement.

This generation is not as willing to sacrifice their personal lives to advance their career. Millennials like to “work hard and play hard,” and they appreciate a company that values this balance. They want to know that their hard work will be rewarded and there is the opportunity for career advancement for successful performance. For companies, this means that you need to stress the importance of work-life balance in your organization throughout the interview process.

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Five Characteristics of Millennials in the Workplace

Five Steps to Keeping Your Millennial Employees Challenged and Loving Their Jobs

1. Communicate every chance you get.

Your employees rely on you for encouragement, leadership, and feedback. Communicating openly and often with your employees is crucial, especially during times of transition. You can significantly improve morale by giving your employees consistent chances to communicate with you and with their team members. Schedule regular meetings to give praise, provide leadership direction, and talk through feedback.

An open-door policy is particularly beneficial. Encourage your employees to come to you with anything they need to talk through—ideas, frustrations, questions—so that they feel listened to and seen. Employees who know that you care will feel more connected to your mission and will be more motivated to step up to challenges as they come.

2. Find opportunities to present a challenge.

Employees who aren’t productive may actually just be bored. Monotonous work will not ignite your employees’ passion and, therefore, will not motivate them to help your company reach its goals. Show them that this position is one that will advance their career and teach them more about the industry. To achieve this, you can present your employees with structured or open-ended challenges—depending on their personality—and ask them to find a solution. The ability to take charge and infuse creative problem solving into their everyday work could be just what they need to be more engaged.

3. Encourage career education and development.

Your employees’ new challenges don’t always have to come from you or the team. Make career development opportunities available to your team and encourage them to take advantage. Learning and networking can motivate your employees to take on new responsibilities or share their knowledge with their coworkers. For a little extra challenge, ask them to present the information they learned to the company or their team.

4. Show your appreciation.

Employee appreciation can go a long way in morale. In fact, in a recent survey, 71% of employees say that they would work harder if they felt more appreciated. You can show that you appreciate your employees with small (or large) gestures such as gifts on birthdays and holidays or celebrating important milestones. Verbal appreciation and giving “shout outs” on your team meeting calls can also make your employees feel seen and valued. Think outside of the box and get creative!

5. Set the tone from the top.

The phrase “tone from the top” has become a cliché, but it’s an excellent guide. Leaders who lead by example show their employees that they believe in what they say. You have a great deal of influence in the way that your employees view your company’s culture. Your actions speak volumes about the business’ core values—more so than a poster with a list of its core values in the conference room.

Lessons LBMC Leadership has Learned from Employing Millennials

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.

“I equate that to when you walk down the hall and ask someone, ‘How’s your day?’ And if they say, ‘Well, it’s not going very well,’ you’d better stop and listen and find a way to help, versus just walking on past. If you just walk on past, asking ‘How was your day?’ didn’t accomplish what you wanted it to accomplish.” – Jeff Drummonds, CEO

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 has implemented at least three ideas brought to the fore through the listening process: standing desks for all employees, two weeks of paid paternity leave (in addition to paid maternity and adoption leave), and dress for your day which allows for jeans when not meeting with clients.

Millennials want to have influence

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. But by knowing and understanding that they are part of the process and have an 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 have also expanded our professional development program to ensure we meet the needs of our employees at all levels within the organization.

“Some organizations I worked in were very hierarchical and based on seniority, and that’s very frustrating for Millennials,” said Katie Tarr, a shareholder in the healthcare valuations department. “If I’m working smart and hard, why am I not at the same level as someone who’s less productive than me, just because they’ve been here longer? And the entrepreneurial mindset of Millennials is very different from prior generations, in that I have to care about what I’m doing and I have to feel like I’m on a mission and involved in something — as opposed to just doing a job for a paycheck. No Millennials I know will take a job just for a paycheck — they want something they can get behind and get excited about and feel a part of.”

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.

“I don’t want to give the appearance that we have everything figured out. We have to embrace many of the things that Millennials and others are asking for, but that doesn’t mean capitulation. As long as you’re willing to be open and honest with them, I think that this generation is willing to meet you halfway.” – Jeff Drummonds, CEO

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.

How Millennials Are Changing the Workplace

Millennials bring a variety of social and cultural experiences to their careers. As they grew into adulthood, they watched the birth and growth of the Internet, the advent of social media, strong socio-political and cultural conflicts, and a major economic recession. These myriad influences, along with the parenting styles of baby boomers, helped form a generation that’s resilient, optimistic, purpose-driven, and flexible. As they bring these values to the workplace, they’ve helped to shape how companies offer benefits, schedule working hours, and communicate purpose. In fact, there are four major ways Millennials are changing the workplace.

1. Millennials are Changing Workplace Technology

If asked, most Millennials can verbally recreate the squeaking, cracking, and high-pitched squeals that accompanied dial-up Internet access. Yet, even speeds of 56 kbps allowed Millennials access to more information on a desktop than prior generations had in large libraries. Since they are “digital natives,” many Millennial employees feel greater ease with technology than their older counterparts. This can be a great benefit in a variety of industries. Employers can trust Millennial workers to research, implement, and troubleshoot new technologies that can transform workflows and productivity. Millennials are also big fans of big data, and they’re primed to collect, analyze, and interpret information on click-thrus, conversion, and customer engagement.

2. Millennials are Changing Workplace Stability

Although the exact numbers are hard to pin down, most studies show that Millennials change jobs at a higher rate than their predecessors.  Although serial job-hopping may appear problematic, it has some hidden benefits beneath the tumult it can cause in lives and organizations. In reality, changing roles, positions, and workplaces allow Millennials to see a wide variety of industry approaches and management styles. This means that when they arrive in a new workspace, they can offer new ideas and thoughtful observations based on prior experiences. Millennials are also highly flexible workers, due to the fact that they’ve held many roles. If you’re looking for a classic “many hats” employee in a smaller business, a Millennial might be just the right match to take on several roles at once.

3. Millennials are Changing Workplace Flexibility and Transparency

Millennials value flexibility in their work, a high level of transparency, and a strong work-life balance. These priorities have helped change workplace expectations for employee responsibilities. While a typical 8 to 5 schedule was the norm even a decade ago, technology and employee preferences have created an increase in flexible work schedules, remote work, the gig economy, and the sharing economy. Millennials are drawn to workplaces with measurable benefits in addition to a salary, and flexibility is top among their concerns. They also desire a high level of transparency in their careers, with access to supervisors and administrators. It’s a good idea to establish a crystal-clear feedback process to support the annual review process. Many Millennials leave positions if they feel feedback is only offered once yearly. Frank, open conversation within a company hierarchy is highly sought after and deeply appreciated.

4. Millennials Are Changing Workplace Values and Purpose

Another trait that many Millennial workers share is a desire for a higher purpose in their working lives. This generation is drawn to workplaces that can clearly state the value they bring to their clients and to the world. As part of a globally-aware group, Millennials want to know how the work they do benefits those around them, and employers who can communicate their values are often preferred. Millennials also want to connect their specific skills and interests to a company’s larger vision. Employers can encourage greater engagement from Millennial workers by helping them craft roles that truly reflect their talents. Finally, Millennial employees want to give back. Since they can be somewhat skeptical of capitalism, they want to work for companies that contribute to their communities. Whether it’s through profit sharing, volunteerism, or sponsorship, employers must brainstorm ways they can support organizations around them to attract and retain a committed younger workforce.

Millennials in the workforce have been maligned as entitled, self-absorbed, restless, and lazy. The reality is that they’re engaged, creative, analytical, and thoughtful. As they’ve begun to integrate into the larger workforce, they’ve become a true catalyst for workplace change.