Care and Feeding of Millennials

In dealing with Millennial employees, it seems that some of the old rules of compensation are not effective.  In a recent breakfast meeting of the New England Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors, directors serving on corporate compensation committees discussed the need to educate management on the care and feeding of young, mobile millennial employees.

Millennial employees are not “career-oriented” in the sense that they do not see themselves as lifetime or long term employees of the place in which they happen to be working.  This fact challenges fundamental corporate thinking about compensation: that we should reward employees with stock options or other incentives which will become valuable over a period of time if the enterprise in fact achieves its business goals.  Such thinking may well be appropriate for senior executives in charge of navigating the business to the promised land, but doesn’t particularly work for millennials who do not affirmatively expect to be around for ultimate corporate success.

How about paying top dollar?  Well, there is an immediate problem in some markets (think biotech in Cambridge) because the competition for talent is so intense that the cost of labor naturally escalates.  However, there is a range.  Is it desirable to pay at the top of the range?  The expert panel thought that being somewhere in the middle was a better economic strategy, as it would leave enough money on the table in order to provide millennials what they really want.

So here is a list of those things recommended for the attraction and retention of mobile millennials:

Robust paternal and maternal leave

  • Robust parental leave and other Work/Life balance accommodations
  • Obtain feedback on how meaningful the job feels (one company does this every two weeks!)
  • Learning programs for all employees
  • 360⁰ ratings of coworkers and bosses twice a year
  • 100% commitment to philanthropy
  • 100% commitment to corporate citizenship
  • Requirement of volunteerism
  • Celebrate all minorities, but do not limit activities just to the members of that group
  • Be specific about volunteer opportunities for schools, civic organizations
  • A clean workplace with plants, chairs, attention to ergonomics
  • Make the millennials’ lives easier: food onsite, concierge services, how can you help the millennial inside and beyond the office?

I have considered returning to earth as a millennial.  Meanwhile, I leave you with a question for corporate directors: does your Board monitor your Company’s strategic plan as it relates to Human Resources?


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