Win Young Talent With A Culture Of Flexibility And Collaboration

Steve Watkins, Investor’s Business Daily News, 5/28/16

Companies are battling for young talent these days. That means they’re fighting to lure millennials. One of the main things that 18 to 35-year-olds are believed to look for in an employer is a company culture that fits their values.

Here’s how to build your firm’s culture to draw millennials and serve others too.

Win the battle. Millennials will place culture far ahead of pay. One study showed they’ll accept a $40,000 job over a $100,000 job if it offers flexibility, learning opportunities and work that has meaning beyond a paycheck, says Debora McLaughlin, CEO of the Nashua, N.H.-based Renegade Leader Coaching and Consulting Group. She worked with one major company that was puzzled why millennials were leaving shortly after starting. An employee engagement survey showed the answer.
“People are not even looking at you if the culture is not a good fit for them,” McLaughlin, author of “The Renegade Leader,” told IBD.

Gain talent. A company’s values are the key to luring millennials. That’s vital to replacing baby boomers who are getting ready to retire.
“I think culture is the critical tool for attracting and retaining people,” said Tim Irwin, an Atlanta-based organizational psychologist. “People want to join a company where the values are clear, aspirational and are reinforced.”

Lay out values. Decide on the principles that are at the core of what your firm does. Strong customer service might be one. Make sure each employee understands the standard of performance you expect.

“Then it’s an every-employee concern and not just a buzzword,” McLaughlin said.

Reinforce it. Irwin has worked with a company that has five pillars as its key tenets. They include things like financial performance and taking care of assets. Managers at each of the firm’s locations talk about one of those values every day, explaining how it fits into an employee’s typical workday.

“That’s incredibly powerful, and it builds an intentional culture,” said Irwin, who wrote “Impact: Great Leadership Changes Everything.”

Take action. Keep the culture intact by rewarding those who live up to it and enforcing consequences for those who don’t. Even if a person is great at what they do, cut ties if that person can’t maintain the firm’s values.

“It can be hard to part ways, but it’s putting your money where your mouth is,” Irwin said. “It absolutely sends a message.”

Be flexible. Millennials value the ability to work hours that fit their schedule and focus on getting the job done rather than being in the office from 9 to 5. Don’t fret if they don’t come in until 10:30. They might finish the job in the evening. Let people go to the gym during the day as long as they wrap up work later. Others value that too.

“Why can’t we entrust people to get their jobs done?” McLaughlin said.

Collaborate. Companies often create silos where their people work without interacting with others. But most millennials want to work with others. That can spur creativity and innovation.

“Look at what you can do with cross-functional teams to build collaboration,” McLaughlin said.

Build a bond. Create ties with your people. Millennials typically want to form an emotional connection with the leader of their organization, Irwin says.

“They want to feel cared about, and they have a good nose for when it’s not genuine,” Irwin said.

Back it up. Make your actions back up the firm’s values. If you develop a culture of innovation and creativity, invest in technology, training and recruiting to fit that principle.

“Check to make sure your core culture is showing up,” McLaughlin said.

Get participation. Seek opinions from your people. The input helps you make better decisions, and you’re employees will feel involved. That’s important to millennials and others.

“I think a strong culture appeals to just about everybody,” Irwin said. “It cuts across generational differences.”