Through research, EY learned that its millennial workers want to be themselves at work, have their voices heard, and have give-and-take relationships that are not just work-focused with managers. “That’s incredibility important to them,” said Twaronite. Now, the firm is training its managers to respond and give more guidance, like a parent would, and show young workers a path to upward mobility. The firm is also coaching its Gen Y workers to ask for specific feedback.
Millennials say businesses are on the right track when they hold barbeques and company retreats, but efforts can fall flat if they end there. Tracy Thomas, a 31-year-old senior marketing manager at Oasis Outsourcing in West Palm Beach, Fla., said “fun” activities are the place to start to create a sense of family. But day-to-day, managers need to encourage an environment where co-workers can socialize, office doors are open, and successes are celebrated. “Whatever level you are, you have to feel you can reach across and create relationships and that it’s supported,” Thomas said.
Creating that collaborative environment can be easier with the right office design. Richard Awdeh—founder of Cirle, a Miami-based medical-technology incubator—says his company’s office features blackboards and whiteboards throughout, open desks, beanbag chairs and a snack wall. “The culture fosters collaboration among the team,” he said.
With a workforce almost entirely of millennials, even hiring at Cirle is a team effort. “I have others on the team spend time with the person and make sure that anyone I hire is someone they can socialize with.” Awdeh said his reasoning is pure business: “If someone likes the environment and people they work with, they end up doing great work.”
Some companies are finding the most effective way of creating that “second-home” environment comes from allowing millennials to create social bonds the way they’re used to doing it—online. At Cirle, Introsso said she and her co-workers instant-message each other all day long. “We might not speak face to face for five hours, but we’re constantly communicating.”