Is Your Culture a Good Fit for Millennials?

Category: Workplace Culture

Millennials represent one in three American workers today. Understanding what motivates them is key to attracting, retaining and engaging them. I’ve interviewed many millennials for a variety of jobs. One of the most commonly asked questions is, “What is the culture like?” While culture is supposed to be about the values, beliefs and attitudes that characterize a company, I’ve found that it often means, “What’s it like to work here?”  Sometimes they may be thinking about dogs at work, free lunch and yoga. (Dee Murphy of HRchitect does a great job of explaining why culture is not about ping-pong.) More often it has to do with how the company is run.

Here are some of the things that matter most to millennials:

• Flat organizations that are open to ideas, regardless of job title… Millennials are looking for access to people at all levels and want to be able to express and exchange ideas openly. Translation: if yours is a hardline tops-down organization, it’ll be a tough fit.
• Knowing how they fit into the company’s mission and goals. Regardless of the individual’s job, there is a need to understand the context of how it fits into the company’s objectives.
• Having a voice…in everything, including building your brand. Social media has accelerated freedom of expression and employees are expecting that opportunity in the workplace. They want to be asked their opinion and want to see evidence that it is considered.
• Cause-based projects and global citizenship. Most millennials want to make the world a better place. They’ll want to know how your company makes that happen, whether it is in the products you make, the services you deliver or the charities you support. Even better if there’s flexibility for them to devote time to causes of their choice.
• Work-life balance – It’s important to know (and see) that you value the whole person and provide education, support and flexibility that helps employees live a safe and healthy life.

It’s one thing to discuss these issues in an interview, and quite another to put them into action, making them come to life for everyone. Digital signage and electronic message boards are a popular way to reinforce company culture and keep everyone informed. Unlike the tops-down corporate TV of old, digital signage can be a much more dynamic and relevant channel for reaching all workers. A little creativity and planning will keep them engaged.

5 Tips for engaging millennials with digital signage:

1. How are we working together? As we move toward new work models based on collaboration and project teams, communication and connection become even more important. Use your digital signage screens to recognize how your employees are collaborating.
• Announce new project teams, emphasizing their charge and why it’s important.
• Keep it personal by introducing team members.
• Share the results by having the team report their progress in a short video.
2. How are we doing? The days of keeping “the numbers” a secret are over. The democratization of data is here and digital signage is the perfect platform for data visualization. Colorful and easy-to-understand dashboards or infographics let your employees know how you are doing. Displaying metrics on sales goals, production levels, customer satisfaction scores, lost time accidents, etc. will go a long way in helping everyone get the big picture.
3. Ask my opinion. Launch a survey to find out what your employees want to see on the screens. Use your digital signage screens to announce and promote the survey. Include a QR code option on the announcement so that employees can scan it with their smart phones and link directly to the survey. In the survey, don’t forget to ask if they want to contribute. The most dynamic and effective digital signage deployments are those with a diverse team of content contributors.
4. Celebrate your causes. Play up your company’s culture and values by showing how you contribute to the community. Whether it’s a company-wide food drive, or a group of employees forming a team for a charity walk or bike ride, make the story come to life on your screens with video, images and quotes. Use digital signage to promote charity events and get more people involved.
5. Encourage work-life balance.  Your content needs to address the “whole person”, not just the 9-5 part of their lives. Make room for lively content that will “edutain” them on stress reduction, home safety, healthy eating and exercise.

Your culture is unique. Be proud of it. Bring it out in the open so that everyone can share and see how you make it come to life. Good luck!

Jude Carter
October 11, 2016

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