Keeping employees engaged, happy and motivated is no easy task - especially if you're a boomer trying to attract and retain millennial talent.
We've all heard the barrage of attacks on the character of millennials, but far less common is a critical look at some of the ways employers can help aid engagement of not only millennial employees, but all employees. Forty per cent of companies say that their top concern is losing people to attrition, so this is a big deal for many organizations.
Make onboarding fun and experiential
One of the quickest ways to lose an employee could be connected to how they're introduced to your company and their role there. This is why the concept of gamified onboarding has started to pique the interest across industries. Burger King recently hired Snoop Dogg to film their internal employee training video and also hired Spanish comedian Charo for Spanish-speaking employees, but you don't have to wow with celebrity to get employees excited to come to work.
Deutsche Bahn is a transport group that has launched an onboarding training system that uses VR headsets to virtually introduce new employees to a day in the life of various specialists, from electricians to train drivers. On your first day, you could be virtually inspecting the underside of an Intercity-Express train or a variety of other job functions. The company provides train, bus and logistics services all around the world, and it has the challenging task of recruiting over 7,000 new people each year for the next four years within Germany as the boomers employed currently are bowing out to enjoy retired life.
Their use of virtual reality for training is one of the first cases ever, and it has given them a competitive edge in their labour market. Their tagline for this recruitment effort: "A job like no other." Deutsche Bahn even have VR videos that those people thinking about applying can watch prior to handing in their resumes, so they can get a better feel for the job and have a better understanding when they walk in the door. The company also go to schools to show school children these virtual-video experiences, getting them interested from an early age in transport.
Gamify the workplace
Millennials thrive on digital platforms and love instant gratification, which is why British cloud provider Memset has created a cloud-based "game" that allows employees to complete challenges to get virtual rewards. Canadian cosmetics company Lush uses this tool to train employees on new products in a story-based style that integrates quizzes. Their digital program is called "Lush Quests," and allows "several hundred employees to download and play simultaneously," according to Surrey Research Park. Employees can play it nearly anywhere, because it's compatible with nearly every device. Platforms like this are popping up as a response to shifting values as millennials begin to dominate the workforce. According to PWC, 35 per cent of millennials say that training and development programs are the most desirable quality in a workplace.
Create a culture that fits your brand
I'm lucky enough to work at Trend Hunter, the world's number-one trend platform, which helps to make hundreds of the world's most powerful brands such as Samsung, Nestle and NBCUniversal find better ideas, faster through trend research. We're based in Toronto and have a staff of 30, but only two of our employees aren't millennials (they're Gen-Xers). We do things differently because of this.
One of the things we do differently, for starters, is that we have a VP of Culture, Jaime Neely, who is dedicated to creating a culture that we can be proud of and that fits with our brand. Because of this, we have unique traditions like "Feel Smart Fridays," a two-hour series of educational sessions and workshops that occurs every Friday over a few beers. We tackle topics like executive presence, communication and cross-pollination as suggested by our staff. We have a peer-nominated Platinum rewards program that rewards innovative thinking and passion publicly every week. We've sent people to luxury whisky tastings in London, England, to Thailand to build an island beach pop-up bar and to Malibu to learn to surf. We have monthly fun days to experience the latest trends in a hands-on way and to just have fun together as a group.
To my previous point, we have also gamified every aspect of our business. Things like live maps of what our readers are looking at around the world and article-performance metrics are displayed on huge TVs throughout the office. We have daily check-ins and quarterly feedback sessions because we have taken internal surveys that have let us know that our millennial employees value frequent feedback. We also have received a lot of media because of this. TechVibes has said that Trend Hunter has one of the best startup cultures and The Wall Street Journal featured us as the workplace of the day.
While this might sound a little "soft" or even fiscally questionable to those who are used to a more traditional workplace, 44 per cent of millennials say that if given the choice, they would chose to leave their current position in the next two years.
Could that be how your millennial employees feel?
Shelby Walsh is the president of Trend Hunter, a website tracking industry trends