How to adapt your workforce culture to attract and retain millennials

Have you hired a millennial lately who stayed only six months before moving on to work for a social enterprise or a company that allows dogs in the office and offers paid time off for employees to volunteer in the community?

If so, then perhaps you’re starting to understand that workforce culture is changing dramatically with the retirement of baby boomers and the onboarding of millennials.

By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be comprised of millennials. To put that in perspective, there are only 16% of Gen Xers currently in the workforce, and, as we know, many baby boomers are retiring.

Companies that cannot change their culture to attract and retain millennials will soon lack an adequate workforce.

In general, millennials are highly engaged and caring (about people and the environment)—and work best in a team atmosphere. And, according to, they grew up in an era when primary education was focused on collaboration and group dynamics.

Even more than corporate social responsibility, millennials are looking for purpose-driven companies.

Here are some millennial statistics from the Intelligence Group:

  • 64% say it’s a priority for them to make the world a better place
  • 72% would like to be their own boss. But if they do have to work for a boss, 79% of them would want that boss to serve more as a coach or mentor
  • 88% prefer a collaborative work culture rather than a competitive one
  • 74% want flexible work schedules
  • 88% want “work-life integration,” which isn’t the same as work-life balance, since work and life now blend inextricably

Millennials want to know their work makes a difference in the world—and they want to do that work in a friendly, casual and relaxed environment.

Adapting your workforce culture to attract and retain millennials might not be as difficult as you think.

Upgrade and rethink your social and mobile

If you haven’t already cued in to the social and mobile world, it’s about time. This means upgrading your website to be mobile friendly and carving out your niche on social media. And, ahem, recognizing that millennials absolutely have to check their phones and social media feeds throughout the day. Making employees check their mobiles at the door won’t work with this generation—or even Gen Xers these days. Smart phones have become a lifeline for nearly everyone and are a key part of millennial culture.

Offer millennial-friendly benefits

Contrary to popular opinion, millennials are not all focused on what makes their lives better right now. They are highly educated and have tremendous student loans to pay off. And, after living through the Great Recession and seeing how that affected their parents and themselves, they are seriously concerned about the future, too.

Some baby boomer employers tend to think that work will only get done if people are in the office—but that’s not true, especially with millennials. They grew up with technology and think nothing of opening a laptop or iPad at random times to get work done. They will gladly work evenings and weekends if they can come in late the day after attending a Drake or Beyoncé concert, or leave work early to see their young child perform in sports or a play.

At Blackstone Staffing, a technology staffing firm, we provide generous time off, flex schedules, work-from-home days, Friday afternoon social hours, a fridge full of snacks, as well as volunteer opportunities. In the summer, we plan camping trips as a team, and in the winter, we 0rganize weekends in the mountains.

We are also active in the tech meetup community and encourage our employees to continuously learn and develop both personally and professionally.

Realize millennials have prospects

At Blackstone Staffing, we have seen that millennials are looking for competitive benefit packages as they weigh their options.

We’ve also seen an encouraging trend of more and more clients being open to hiring entry-level candidates and recent graduates than ever before. And STEM-degree candidates are in high demand with many opportunities available to them.

Millennials want to learn and progress quickly in their careers—many of them make astonishingly upward career moves in a short amount of time. Employers who want to keep such talent should provide a roadmap to their career success as millennials do want to see tangible benefits for their efforts.

And millennials prefer to work with like-minded individuals— they want to engage, be active in decision-making, and make a difference—so they don’t always work cohesively with colleagues who have an “old school” mentality.

Provide opportunities for millennial engagement

Millennials are looking for a sense of purpose in their work and in their life and opportunities for career development, which is not the same as training. They want and need to be coached and mentored—they thrive on relationships.

Because of technology and the way they communicate, millennials have many more connections than other generations. Depending on the culture of their workplace that communication can have a tremendously positive or negative impact when it comes to their employers.

When millennials feel they are in a collaborative environment and they’re appreciated and being mentored to succeed, then they are likely to stay longer with your company and give you their best work.

Employers who provide a great work environment that millennials are proud of will see it pay dividends in a more productive, collaborative and successful work environment.