SumTotal Blog

How to Attract Millennials to the Workforce

August 6, 2021 | by SumTotal Blog | 5 min read

It’s safe to assume that if you’re reading this, you’re not a millennial. But, if you are, everything that follows is likely to make you nod your head. Millennials are taking the reins of the economy, even taking the helm at many organizations, and they bring a new, often refreshing approach to how work works.

Who are Millennials and Why Are They Important?

Millennials are defined as anyone who was born between 1981 and 1996. According to Pew Research in the United States, there are 72.1 million millennials, outnumbering baby boomers with a population of 71.6 million. In a nutshell, they are quickly becoming the backbone of the global workforce.

And, dear millennials: employers need you badly.

The hiring crisis is heating up as more baby boomers retire, and businesses need different skillsets to help them deal with swift technological change.

For example, according to The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), manufacturing companies surveyed reported that finding the right talent is now 36% harder than in 2018, even though the unemployment rate has nearly doubled the supply of available workers.

Manufacturing companies reported how they’re struggling to fill higher-paying entry-level production positions, let alone find and retain skilled workers for specialized roles. Looking ahead, 77% of manufacturers say they will have ongoing difficulties in attracting and retaining workers in 2021 and beyond.

Recruiting and Retaining Millennials

Millennials expect a fast hiring process and a strong focus on company culture. What does this mean for organizations that want to hire millennials? They’ll need to streamline their recruiting tactics and highlight their commitment to workplace culture.

In job postings and interviews, hiring managers should mention their commitment to developing employee skills and careers. A focus on work-life balance can also set job listings apart, as millennials often cite this as a top factor when considering new jobs. Millennials also value organizations that have a strong sense of purpose. To attract them, employers need to evaluate and communicate their visions.

Millennials decide by the end of their first day on the job whether they want to be part of a company for the long haul, Jason Ryan Dorsey writes in his book, Y-Size Your Business. That's why an onboarding process that begins from day one is so essential. Consider National Signing Day. Traditionally, this has been the first day a high school senior can sign a binding National Letter of Intent for a collegiate sport. It’s a big deal. Employers bent on making a strong first impression may want to turn the hiring process into a celebration akin to this.

Integrating best practices and approaches — from creating a strong onboarding process to demonstrating how each job supports the company mission and purpose – can help organizations attract and retain millennial employees.

What Do Millennials Expect from Their Employers?

Learning and Development Opportunities

Millennials view their jobs as development opportunities that serve as a stepping stone to the next level in their career. By investing in training, upskilling and reskilling, and certification programs, organizations can begin recruiting and developing employees early in their careers.

The millennial generation also favors continuous learning and expects employers to provide them with resources and learning opportunities. Millennials are used to instant communication, which carries over into the workplace. As employees, millennials expect to be heard and given feedback in real-time.

To meet this expectation, say goodbye to the annual performance review and offer continuous feedback and coaching instead. Frequent feedback has several benefits, such as:

  1. Increasing morale
  2. Boosting engagement
  3. Supporting a people-first culture
  4. Ensuring employees stay on track with their professional goals


Millennials represent the most diverse generation of American adults, and they want to see diversity and inclusivity reflected in their workplace.

In fact,according to research from Deloitte, millennials are more likely to stay with an organization for longer if the workforce and senior management teams are diverse. One example of an industry focused on its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs is manufacturing. Other industries would be wise to follow manufacturing's lead on supporting DEI initiatives that drive equity and belonging.


Millennials also appreciate flexible working arrangements that allow them the freedom to choose where and when they work. And it’s not just technology companies that offer this flexibility. A recent survey by LinkedIn shows that a large segment of other industries, such as finance (40%), healthcare (36%), and manufacturing (33%), are embracing the full-time remote work model, too.

How Do You Motivate Millennial Employees?

Millennials value employers that prioritize their professional growth and career development.

When describing their ideal job, 72 percent say they are more likely to value opportunities for career advancement (compared to 52 percent and 64 percent of baby boomers and gen Xers, respectively). They also want the chance to learn new skills (72 percent), whereas only 48 percent of baby boomers and 62 percent of gen Xers prioritize that quality.

In addition to offering a good salary, benefits, and company culture, there are things you can do to make your organization more attractive to millennial employees, including:

  1. Providing transparency into their performance and career opportunities
  2. Helping them expand their digital and “soft” skills
  3. Putting them on career growth paths
  4. Leveraging the most current digital tools and channels

Regardless of industry, a significant portion of unopen roles will be filled by millennials. To remain competitive as an employer, it’s essential to make your organization attractive to this generation.

Check out our white paper, 5 Tips to Effective Performance Management, to better understand how to cater to the modern employee's needs.

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