In 2015, Millennials (those born between about 1980 and 2000) became the largest generation in the US workforce. By 2025, three-quarters of the global workforce will be Millennials. While this generation has seen its fair share of negative press, Millennials are also one of the best-educated and globally-minded generational cohort in history. This generation grew up in an increasingly globalized world and is acutely aware of the issues that society faces.
Most importantly: Millennials see the power that businesses — from scrappy startups to large corporations — can have in making a difference in the world. According to research from Cone Communications, nearly two-thirds of millennials say they won’t work for a company that does not have strong corporate responsibility commitments and once hired, they are more likely to be loyal when they feel they can make a positive impact on issues at work.
Attracting Millennial Workers: Prove Your Appeal
With unparalleled transparency due to sites like Glassdoor and Great Place to Work reviews, most employers are acutely conscious that they need to tell their stories about what makes them more appealing than their competitors. Mission-driven businesses, social startups, and conscious companies can’t just assume that candidates know about the great work that they’re doing; like all employers, they must prove to potential job applicants that they’re great places to work.
Here are four ways that conscious companies can tap into millennial worker candidates, who tend to be searching for social impact jobs:
1. Show, don’t tell, how you’re on a mission
More and more companies are engaging in and publicizing corporate social responsibility efforts, which is forcing Millennials to fine-tune their “BS meters” to identify who’s just in it for the publicity and who’s actually trying to make a difference. Conscious companies should share their founding stories in hiring materials to explain why their founders chose to start the company and the problems that they’re trying to solve. Videos with customer impact testimonials and real employees using their own words about what it means to be a conscious company are more powerful than a flat page just listing your mission, vision, and values. Provide real examples and data for how you integrate CSR and conscious decision-making into multiple aspects of your business. Efforts like these show millennials that this is more than just a marketing stunt, it’s truly the company culture.
2. Spread your message through others
Growing up in the era of social media, Millennials are more likely to trust what they hear from peers and industry experts rather than advertising and press releases. Make a list of potential partners that you can use to promote your business, company culture, and job openings. Consider your customers, business partners, board of advisers, bloggers, and thought leaders. Use these relationships to increase awareness and trust in your brand amongst millennial job seekers. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can also be powerful media that are the first stop for many millennials who are researching a company. Use your own employees to share the great work you are doing with their connections, whether a volunteer event, a company outing, or a customer you’ve had a positive impact on.
3. Demonstrate a willingness to change.
When a company pivots their business model, stops a project, or closes a department or location, they often don’t like to discuss the detailed reasons behind the change. Transparency and explanations for why things happened are actually something that will attract millennials to your organization. Millennials don’t accept the idea of “it’s always been done like this.” They are coming of age in a culture more aware of lean, agile methodologies, and “fail fast” thinking and want their employers to act that way. Millennial job candidates will respect your honesty and transparency about the mistakes and changes that your company has made, and it will show them your willingness to constantly improve.
4. Show you care about employees
Nearly 90 percent percent of millennials say professional development or career growth opportunities are very important to them in a job, according to Gallup. Providing training opportunities demonstrates to millennials that your company cares about more than just employees coming to work and putting their nose to the grindstone. Conscious companies can create programs that provide employees exposure to other departments or even industry experts. Internal training programs, tuition assistance, and mentor programs are other great ways to give millennials the chance to learn new skills.
The social impact advantage
Overall, when it comes to attracting and recruiting millennials, it’s all about “show don’t tell.” On your website, in recruiting materials, and during interviews show millennial candidates what it means to work for a mission-driven business, conscious company, or social enterprise, and the differences they’ll experience. Conscious companies are at an advantage when it comes to providing millennial employees with the rewarding and socially conscious work that they’re looking for. Now you just have to prove why you’re the best conscious company for them.
Susan Hunt Stevens
Susan Hunt Stevens is the founder and CEO of WeSpire, the positive business platform that helps companies design, run, and measure employee engagement programs for their entire workforce. She is a recognized expert in social/game mechanics. In 2015, she was named an EY Entrepreneur of the Year for New England.