5 Ways to Connect with the Modern Workforce in a Competitive Job Market

 
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The modern workforce demands something much different than the previous generations. Seeking things like purpose and belonging before anything else is what drives them to commit to an organization. Today, young professionals between the ages of 23 and 35 make up more than 50% of the workforce. So, how does your organization begin connecting with them in order to stay afloat in a competitive job market?

1. Connect them to purpose.
The modern workforce requires a connection to something greater than a job description or the bottom line of the business. They need to understand where they fit in the grander scheme of the organization, how their talents contribute to something greater than themselves. Company values, strategic plans and culture committees are great, but how are you connecting their contributions, their jobs, their desires to develop personally, to the broader strategies and mission? Is it done once a year or in a regular cadence? Draw a memorable, visual line to connect their accomplishments to the success of the organization and you will find the need for Millennial bashing will disappear.

2. Create communities around their common interests.
How well do you know your people? What are their interests, what inspires them, what are their intrinsic motivations? Once you’ve discovered the answers to these questions, you will be in the position to create true communities within your organization. Invest the time and resources to identify common passions and help people organize events to celebrate them. Sponsor a triathlon, match charitable giving to employee volunteerism, hold a master chef contest among business units. You are only limited by your imagination, and a small investment will create real community. With community comes connection, loyalty and serious discretionary effort. Big companies seem smaller. Smaller organizations feel like family. People rarely leave the family.

3. Celebrate who they are and who they aspire to be.
Many organizations support training and development needs, but who defines those needs? Personalize development by asking your team members to create their own professional and personal goals and plans to achieve them. Use this platform as an opportunity to connect at a deeper level and demonstrate your commitment to their success as they define it. Celebrate them by listening to both. Challenge them to reach the edge of their potential, both professionally and personally. Bring in resources to train groups and consider sending individuals out for specific life experiences. Provide the schedule flexibility to enable that side hustle or mindfulness class. You’ll find they will return the investment several times over in increased effort and loyalty.

4. Give them a voice.
Do you know who the influencers are in your organization? Those who are sought out when someone needs honest feedback or discrete direction? Those who are trusted to give others the needed affirmation or kick in the pants? These people are worth their weight in gold and should be celebrated for their ability to develop trusting relationships within your walls. If you haven’t already, find a way to identify them and then get them involved in the decision process for your business. Get them on a strategic or tactical planning committee, have them lead a culture initiative or promote them to a staff-level leadership council. Give them a seat at the table to make tough decisions about the business. When they commit to a direction, those who trust and listen to them will accept the message more easily making commitment and change happen organically. It’s just human nature.

5. Don't box them in with the 'Millennial' label.
Being classed as a Millennial in the workplace means being called "kid" when everyone else is called by their name. Try creating a “Millennial Swear Box” where teammates are required to throw $1 in the box every time they utter the word. This may curb the sport of Millennial bashing in the workplace which causes pervasive status issues and shuts down creativity and performance. Try making them feel “equal to” instead of “lesser than” and you may find them less likely to job hop.