When you hear that word, what comes to mind? Some might think about technology and growth. Some might think of how they are the largest generation in the workforce. Some might think of their purchasing power. Others might immediately think of the word “entitled.”
PR professionals, upon hearing that word, are probably thinking, “How can I reach millennials on behalf of my client?” Or they might be thinking, “How can I reach the millennials that I just hired? How can I get them engaged and passionate about their work?”
In part one of this series, we talked about two ways to attract and retain millennials through company culture. We’ll now take a look at two more ways to better connect with them.
What’s in it for me?
Nobody wants to openly admit to being selfish. Yet in every interaction and decision that we make, we’re thinking, “What about me? What do I get out of this?”
In a way, PR is how you craft messages to subtly show key publics how they will benefit, without making them feel selfish. You build mutually beneficial relationships.
If you use our banking services, it will be more convenient to track your money. If you eat at our restaurant, you will get higher quality food. If you come work for our PR firm, you will learn practical skills and build a great portfolio.
Millennials are very much concerned about their professional development. Let them know what they get out of working for you.
Wallaroo Media spoke to the Public Relations Student Society of America at Brigham Young University late 2015. They gave some great pointers, but were also careful to weave in explanations about why the best and brightest should work there. They described the prestigious clients you’d work with, the hands-on experience you’d gain, the portfolio you’d develop and the ping-pong matches you’d win. Students were eager for those benefits.
Do what you can build your company so that it professionally develops millennials. Switch teams around so that employees learn new skills and don’t become a “one-trick horse.” Send them to conferences to learn and network, such as the PRSA 2016 International Conference.
Give me freedom!
Millennials love their independence. One study shows that 74 percent want a flexible work schedule, and 88 percent want “work-life integration.”
Dana Lipari, Business Manager for the Center for Teaching and Learning at Brigham Young University, manages the HR for dozens of millennial students on an everyday basis. She observed why millennials often have unique views on flexibility in the workplace.
“They value having the flexibility to work when and where they choose—and technology certainly lends itself to that thinking,” Lipari said. “This underscores the need to look at new ways to offer flexibility while creating engaging environments, whether that environment is a traditional physical work setting, or an ever changing, more virtual way of working.”
This idea of freedom seems to have some merit. Some of the best tweets during the Super Bowl came from social media managers at home sitting on their couch. Public relations is an industry that understands this concept better than most. PR professionals must be ready to answer a crisis or jump on an opportunity at any time—regardless of whether you’re at work or at home.
Millennials also enjoy freedom in how they work on their projects. Experts suggest that you tell them the result that you’re looking for, and then you allow them to get to work.
When they’re ready, they’ll come back to you for feedback. This gives them the experience of working through problems, but the benefit of having an experienced professional to refer to.
Millenial employees are a tough key public to engage effectively, yet you can see that PR principles can be used to attract and retain them in the workforce. Don’t waste your money on replacement when you can spend it on retention.
Comment below with the best lessons you’ve learned about engaging millennial employees in the PR industry.
Alec Sears is a junior studying public relations at Brigham Young University. He’s not a huge fan of long walks on the beach, but he is a huge fan of long days at the beach where he can play volleyball and body surf. He has a tendency to think he’s Batman, and aspires to save the world by doing PR for non-profit organizations.