Small businesses account for a major component of the country’s jobs. In fact, according to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, firms with between 20-99 workers employ 34.3 percent of private-sector payrolls, while those companies with fewer than 20 staff members accounted for another 17.6 percent. With more than 50 percent of the labor force working in this sector, any major shift in demographics can have a big influence on who these companies are hiring and how they go about retaining this talent.
Currently, the country is undergoing a demographic transformation that is making a significant impact on the labor pool. Baby boomers are entering the retirement phase of their life and exiting the workforce en masse. As this happens, millennials are entering the job market in even greater numbers. In fact, as noted by Deloitte’s fifth annual Global Millennial Survey, this age demographic will account for 75 percent of the workforce by 2025.
With this shift already underway, many small businesses may need to take a different approach to their hiring and onboarding policies, while others might need to reinvent their entire company culture to attract and retain the best millennial talent. One of the points taken from the Deloitte survey was that these individuals are driven more about working for a company that matches their values and half of respondents stated they would be willing to take a pay cut to find a job that meets their value standards.
For those millennials currently employed at a job, one of the biggest gripes these employees have with the current situation is that they’re not being given opportunities to fully develop their leadership skills. According to Deloitte, millennials are saying their “leadership skills are not being fully developed.” Because of this, 66 percent of this demographic expect to leave their current job by 2020, and a quarter plan on leaving within one year.
Many small businesses will need to reinvent their company culture to become more accommodating and conducive for the next generation of workers.
How small businesses can respond to this shift
The two biggest motivators for millennials are finding work that matches their values while simultaneously offering advancement opportunities so they can develop their leadership skills. With this knowledge in hand, small business owners can implement policies that match these criteria and not only attract the top millennial talent, but also retain them.
Developing leaderships is also crucial for millennials. Provide opportunities to empower these workers with co-leadership positions that give them a chance to learn from senior team members. Create a new project and put the dedicated workers who have potential into these roles. By showing these individuals that they’re trusted with a greater amount of responsibility, they’ll be more willing to demonstrate their dedication to the task and the company.
Value propositions are an important part of what makes a job rewarding for a millennial, and these individuals are actively seeking out ways to fulfill this aspiration. Take Google, for example. For a long time, Google’s corporate motto was “Don’t be evil.” While the tech giant’s new parent company, Alphabet, modified this to “Do the right thing,” the motto remains a powerful message to its current and potential employees and customers that they want to do good.
Small business owners can create a company culture that embraces this viewpoint in its mission statement, its products or services and through a commitment to giving back to society through volunteering or charity. With millennials driven by a dedication to do good, companies that highlight this aspect of their business model can position themselves as the type of organization top millennial talent will want to stick with and help.
Offer a technological solution
There’s no doubt about it: Millennials are a tech-savvy, mobile-friendly generation. They’re used to being constantly plugged in, either through a laptop, a tablet or their smartphone. There are several ways small businesses can leverage this digital demographic to their advantage. From enterprise resource planning systems to cloud-based real-time access to the company’s data, millennials not only prefer up-to-date technology, they expect it.
Companies can encourage employees to participate in BYOD or “bring your own device” and connect to the firm’s network. Allowing staff members to use their own computers ensures these individuals remain comfortable and at-ease with their working conditions. On the other hand, implementing a work-from-home policy also provides additional options for millennials to stay in their element. Further, eliminating a commute via a WFH policy helps employees save money and time.
Outfitting a small business with the latest and greatest technological solutions does require an initial investment. However, once implemented, these solutions can help streamline operations and boost efficiency. Companies without sufficient working capital can utilize a merchant capital advance or small business loan to purchase the technological solutions to reinvent company culture for a millennial workforce.