Millennials Deliver Great Customer Service…If You Can Keep Them

Great employees create world-class customer experiences. So, how do you attract, motivate, and retain members of today's largest generation, the Millennials?

It's all about the money, right? Not exactly. Millennials do care about pay, however, they place more emphasis on corporate culture than other generations. Millennials, for example, are 25 times more likely to be loyal to a company if its culture reflects their own values. That insight from Great Place to Work means you need to know what motivates them.

Map out professional growth.

Promoting from within can help maintain a company's culture. However, it often happens organically, without a plan. Millennials want something more. Managers should visually map out career paths for each team member and follow up with personal discussions. Millennials will stay motivated when it's clear they have multiple routes to grow within a company.

The other piece of the puzzle is training. There's a risk some people you train will leave after learning new skills. The bigger risk is in not investing in training and your employees stay. The good news is you have a variety of options, including the following:

  • Free industry and certification training;
  • Paying for accredited education programs;
  • Attending workshops at industry trade shows; and
  • Allowing employees to earn college credits for internal programs.

Rethink reviews.

Be a mentor, not a boss. That means not relying on formal processes like annual performance reviews to engage Millennials. "Millennials want to collaborate and support one another," says WorkplaceTrends founder Dan Schawbel, "and not to have rigid management structures that slow them down."

Instead, meet with your Millennial team members frequently. They're more open to feedback than you might think. According to TriNet, 74 percent feel unsure of their performance., but, 90 percent say they'd be more confident if they had ongoing check-ins with their supervisors. 

Engage in purposeful work.

Millennials want to know their work fulfills a purpose greater than just profit. They prefer companies whose core missions improve people's lives. That's because they view a company's mission as a proxy for how it treats its own people.

One way to show you care about the larger world is to build and fund a community relations program. But, it's not just about what the company does.

Millennials embrace companies that support their drive to be active in the community. So, create opportunities for employees to give back. For example, host a competitive canned food drive between offices to benefit a local charity. Or, offer a paid day off for employees that volunteer a certain number of hours in a month for their favorite charities.

Share the big picture and redefine recognition.

Millennials want insights into how their company is performing. They also feel a need to share their ideas about what the company should be doing. So, be open and create platforms for dialogues, such as the following:

  • Topic forums on company intranets;
  • Regular corporate town hall meetings;
  • Quarterly “lunch and learns” with department heads; and
  • Roundtable Q&A sessions with executives and local employees.

It's also a good idea to expand your employee recognition program. Millennials want to see their peers recognized for their good works outside the job. To them, it shows the business cares about more than the bottom line. Leaders offering kudos to employees for their performance and volunteerism can go a long way to boost morale.

Balance work and play.

One myth about Millennials is they don't work hard. That's not true. Many are diligent, but most prefer flexibility in their workdays rather than rigid, traditional schedules.

Authenticity and family are also very important to Millennials. A study by Bentley University's Center for Women & Business shows that Millennials place a higher premium on the success of their personal lives than on their careers. This means companies need to cultivate a work-life balance that everyone can feel. Blending that balance with flexible schedules creates work environments in which Millennials thrive.

Listen and act.

Now that Millennials are the largest generation in the United States, creating a more open, supportive, and community-focused workplace makes good business sense. As customer experience expert Blake Morgan puts it, "Happy management techniques = happy agents = happy interactions = happy experiences = happy stock price."

Teri Morse is vice president of talent acquisition at Alorica.