Practically every leader I know is struggling with how to attract and retain employees from the Millennial generation. But today’s 18 – 33 year olds aren’t as easily won over as generations of the past. They’re not buying into the idea of doing their time, starting at the bottom, or sacrificing their lives for their careers. Yet, believe it or not, they want to have a big impact on the world and they would love to launch their careers at a company like yours. In Part 1 of this series, I explained how articulating your business goals in the right way can make you sexier in the eyes of Millennials. In Part 2, we’re talking about those pesky social networks.
Embracing social networks can make you irresistible.
When access to social networks became ubiquitous, many companies put policies in place to prohibit or restrict such distractions in the workplace. It’s no surprise these policies are a big red flag for Millennials. But you may be surprised to hear why. Millennials use social networks the same way Boomers used to use telephones—to seek opinions, share ideas, build relationships, problem solve, and keep themselves informed. These are all things you need them to do for you. Which is why asking them to work for you with their hands tied behind their backs is a huge turn-off.
Far from a distraction, social networks are valuable tools that can inform and empower your workforce. Moreover, they are the most efficient way to get feedback on what your teams are thinking and doing. Yes, exactly the same feedback you used to have to pull out of them in morale crushing employee engagement surveys and one-on-one manager reviews. By fully embracing social networks, you have ongoing access to information that tells you how to motivate and engage Millennials in real time.
It’s not whether you leverage socials networks, it’s how.
Many leaders make the mistake of viewing social networks as megaphones—one-way communication vehicles that enable them to out-shout the competition. Or they do the opposite and use them to “lurk” and eavesdrop on their team members. This is not only bad for the bottom line, it sends Millennials running for the hills. Remember, they value openness and transparency highly. What’s an easy way to make sure you’re not making these mistakes? Try thinking about social networks in the same way you think of a close friend. Make sure you listen as often as you talk. And when you “share,” do so in the same way you would share a thought, idea, or question with someone you really care about. Here’s how you can start today…
LEARN: Gather your teams together and ask what social networks they use. Chances are you’ll get the usual suspects (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram) but you may also learn about some industry specific networks you’ve never heard of before. Talk about what information – both personal and business related – they gather from their favorite networks. Have a free-association brainstorm and write everything down. You should get answers like “what someone is doing” or “what people are talking about” or “how someone is feeling.”
DO: Invite all your team members to get involved with the most popular networks. You could use internal networks like Jive or Yammer, external networks like Twitter and LinkedIn, or both. If you have less tech-savvy team members who need training, pair them up with your tech-savvy workers. Then, do some testing. Ask your teams to use your company’s Twitter handle (@yourcompany) in a creative or productive way once a week or once a month. Send out a tweet asking for ideas on a certain subject. Ask them to brainstorm tweets or image ideas that help promote your company’s cause. Start an Instagram contest. Share kudos for jobs well done.
HINT: Don’t assign these tweets and updates to underlings at first. Do them yourself, with help if you need it, until you are comfortable with each medium and its accompanying lingo—hashtag, RT, MT, ICYMI, DT, etc. Check your accounts regularly to see what people are saying and who’s saying it. Ask heavy users to help the shy ones break out of their shells. If something’s not working, solicit advice on how to get the result you’re after. Above all, make it fun. You’ll be amazed at the productivity you get in return.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes! And watch for the final post in this series, “How to Make Your Company Sexy to Millennials, Part 3.”