Your Ping-Pong Table Is Worthless: Attracting Millennials

Your Ping-Pong Table Is Worthless: Attracting Millennials

Millennial job seekers are incredibly misunderstood. Thanks to popular culture, the HR world is convinced that Ping-Pong tables are Millennial magnets; add one to your office and your company will instantly transform into a hip, young start-up full of 20-somethings.

Admittedly, most Millennials (myself included) love the idea of having a Ping-Pong table at the office. But do you know what we love even more? Benefits. Intangible benefits, including profit sharing, a 401K account and a flexible work schedule are of the utmost importance to today’s young workforce. Tangible benefits, like an awesome coffee maker and all-you-can-eat breakfast bar, come in as a distant second.

To us, these objects are simply perks – nice to have, but certainly not essential. And herein lies the problem.

According to recent statistics, the number-one benefit that Millennials want from their employers is training and development opportunities. The second is flexible work hours. Free private healthcare, a pension scheme or other retirement funding, and greater vacation allowance are respectively the fourth, fifth and sixth most desired benefits.

attracting millennials with ping pongDespite such statistics, there is still a widely held belief that Millennials are object-oriented; they love material things and the social status that comes with buying them. Despite data to the contrary, it has been universally accepted and applied to several arenas, including the workplace.

HR departments have jumped on the bandwagon, reasoning that if Millennials’ personal lives can be satisfied by consumerism, so can their work lives. Thus, they equip their offices with fancy coffee machines and Apple devices, and then market these objects as “company culture.”

We have progressive, modern stuff in our office, so we must be progressive and modern, right? Wrong.

It is precisely this type of thinking that the HR profession needs to abandon. It just doesn’t make sense to apply an unrelated Millennials-as-consumers theory to talent acquisition.

To us, these objects are simply perks – nice to have, but certainly not essential. And herein lies the problem.

So if objects (a.k.a. tangible benefits) won’t attract Generation Y employees, what will? Below, I’ve compiled a list of the most important intangible benefits that Millennials are looking for in an employer. Publicize these unique benefits, and I guarantee that your company will become a Millennial favorite in no time:

Professional Development

Millennials are inexperienced, but hungry for knowledge. According to MindTickle.com, 89 percent of Millennials agree that it’s “important to be constantly learning on the job.” Be sure to offer Generation Y employees plenty of opportunities for professional growth, like mentoring, professional development seminars and teambuilding activities.

Autonomy

Micromanaging bosses are an absolute buzzkill for Millennials. With a little room to breathe, this age group can relax and put a creative, newcomer spin on their assigned projects. When granted autonomy, Millennials adopt a heightened sense of responsibility, thus inspiring their best efforts and a true interest in the task at hand.

Shared Achievement

Millennials love feeling like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to achieve success alongside their coworkers, yet make a strong, positive impact on their company on an individual level, as well. If you treat Generation Y employees like stakeholders in your company, they will feel even more invested in your company’s achievements. In my opinion, the best way to make Millennials feel like stakeholders is to literally make them stakeholders—by offering profit sharing!

Flexibility

attracting millenials with ping pongThe previous generation’s preference for a 9 to 5 workday is long gone; 89 percent of Millennials prefer to choose when and where they work. Consider the idea of flexible in-office work hours, half-day Fridays, occasional work-from-home days and other various scheduling trends.

Creative Freedom

If companies want to attract Millennials, they must foster innovative thinking; today’s 20-somethings want to work for businesses that support their creative mindsets. According to Deloitte’s third annual Millennial Survey, 78 percent of Millennials “are influenced by how innovative a company is when deciding if they want to work there.” If that’s not a reason to grant your Millennial employees creative freedom, I don’t know what is.

Alignment of Values

Millennials are incredibly conscious of the moral implications of their actions. In Deloitte’s Millennial Survey, more than half of the Millennials surveyed said they want to work for a business with ethical practices. So unite your young workforce by what’s right! Take pride in (and promote) your company’s strong, moral history and its mission to enhance the lives of clients.

Challenging Opportunities

Nothing is more boring than an easy job. Gradually test each Millennial employee’s abilities by assigning greater responsibilities over time. Who knows? You may be pleasantly surprised by the results and get more bang for your buck!

Do you currently employ Generation Y employees? If so, how did you attract them to apply for a position at your company? Did you offer any unique “work perks”? Leave us a comment below!

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Jessica Pawlarczyk
Written by Jessica Pawlarczyk

Jessica Pawlarczyk is a Social Media Specialist at TMP Worldwide Chicago. She is a recent graduate of Vanderbilt University and is very much enjoying her post-grad life living and working in the Windy City. When she isn’t busy keeping up with the latest social media and content marketing trends, you can find her writing or blogging. Contact Jessica at Jessica.pawlarczyk@tmp.com or connect with her on LinkedIn.

20 Comments

  1. Ted

    I agree with you that “Benefits. Intangible benefits, including profit sharing, a 401K account and a flexible work schedule are of the utmost importance to today’s young workforce.” However, I think good pay, a flexible work schedule, and retirement benefits cut across many generations. I’m a Gen X’er and those things were incredibly important to me when I was in my 20s and early 30s (still are). However, many employers were still stuck on a 9 to 5/gotta be at your desk at all times kind of mindset when I entered the workforce. Also, the era of 401K matching (or at least an employer kicking in a certain percentage) waxes and wanes. It would be nice to have a defined retirement benefit (i.e., a pension), but few private employers have those kind of things for their employees nowadays.

  2. Edweena Sturge

    I am in my 50’s and what this article describes are very much the things that I would like as well. Millenial age group could be my children and the only reason why they do not have experience is because they haven’t worked as long as others, that’s all. so, it’s important that the employers respect their work by giving them an opportunity to learn things that will keep them employable for years to come. This is not new. This is something a lot of us old frtz learned during the DOT.COM era as a way to remain competitive and later, viable and employed.

    I still look for employers to give me decent, challenging work that keeps my skills up to date. No one knows how long THIS tech bubble will go on and when employers will be crappy again. It’s always good to keep the skills up to date.

    Insofar as the other things:
    yeah, horrible bosses suck…this is why keeping the skills up is good because you can always bail if you can’t take it.

    Flexibility is important because we (the USA and Silicon Valley) is in DIRECT COMPETITION with operations overseas which means the work cycle does not ever stop. So…why start work here at 9am?

  3. Dave

    I am 57 and am in my 10th year at one of the largest wireless carriers in the nation. I have had some very exciting projects and some not so exciting. I went from contractor to full time employee in the device product development team, to government technical sales to corporate technical sales. I worked at a number of startups in the Seattle area while in my 40’s. None had the magic bullet. Some brough in food and had foosball and ping pong. We worked late hours, started early and traveled often. At my current position there is a mix of those who work remotely whenever possible and those who are at their desk day after day.

    I am not a believer in the desk thing. I have 20 years of experience in high tech. No fancy degree from a prestigious college. I have a pair of AAS from mid level schools. What I do have is business acumen and experience. I stay young through activities outside of the job. I am a tattoed parent of two, play rock and roll in bands and live on 5 acres in the country. Staying relevant is a state of mind. You cannot buy your way there or pretend your way there. I need to live it. I love my job because its demanding and I know what is expected to succeed.

    We get college hires in and one out of three usually has what it takes to move up in position and responsibility. For a company to stay relevant, the old guard needs to retire or get really honest about how they want to be viewed by potential employees.

  4. Donna

    I am 55 and all the above apply to me too! I’ve reached a time im my life where the right position at the right company is more important to me than my W2 at the end of the year. So perhaps the logic is more about attracting the right employee vs the right age.

    1. Paul

      I am a little older than Donna and in complete agreement. Us older folks can do the same job as those with BA/BS/MBA’s. Give us a chance. I was one of 7 employees let go because my company transitioned much of the manufacturing to Mexico, hiring people there. I am now forced to find work again.

  5. David

    In this article, there is no mention of the importance of job security to employees. If you were to come to my company, and ask what would be the most important item on the list, job security would be near the top. Without some amount of job security, all these other benefits become useless.

  6. Bryant

    I’m 52 and this article hasn’t described anything new, but before now employers were better able to dictate the work conditions. If they could still get away with paying a dollar a day for 14 hours of work they would. However, because of competition they cannot, and finally a generation is getting what the previous generations wanted. To be treated as part of a team and valued as a person as opposed to being treated like a cog in the machine. Baby boomers, Gen Y’s, or Gen X’s aren’t that different in wants, but are very different in expectations, but that is more because of the climate of the work world than the difference in personalities.

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  8. Piyawat Jirapoomdech

    I am in the Gen X but I agree with you on what a talent employee is looking for in a company. I think the only difference between Gen X and Gen Y is the flexibility in work hours and place. We in the Gen X tends to withstand that better than the Gen Y and that is simply because the different work and technological environments in between the 2 generations.
    I have been managing a few multinational companies, mostly of US origin, in my country of Thailand, and have experienced some companies that simply just don’t have a clue on how to attract good Gen X and Y employees. Most of the time, my job as the managing director of their overseas entities is to try to change the company’s culture, redefine intangible benefits and make it more attractive to employees and that sometimes caused me problems with the company.

  9. Ed Pritchard

    I’ve seen several articles about how different millennials are and all their requirements you have to pay attention to in order to get them to work for you. It all sounds very self-centered and me-me-me to this guy. It’s been my experience that self-centered people who are overtly demanding of a long list of benefits and special working conditions are very likely to find themselves collecting their benefits at the unemployment office. No one wants to work for a stingy, tightwad company, but the most important factors for a young person early in their career should be opportunity for experience, exposure and advancement, not ping pong tables, free coffee/granola/pizza and a lot of HR benefits.

    1. Charlie P

      Totally agree! I look for people to have the right skills, be teachable, have potential and to fit in the work environment. Work hard for me and I will take care of you for sure.

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  11. Tom in Cleveland

    This isn’t just a millennial mindset. I would dare say that a majority of those in the workforce would find all of these items desirable. I just can’t believe it has taken so long for the business world to begin waking up to it.

  12. Aaron

    What I see from these comments and this article is that so much effort is given to attracting millennials when everyone else wants the same thing. Why are millennials so important? There are still a lot of other people looking for jobs and working. Maybe these companies (or articles) need to be more inclusive.

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