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  • Writer's pictureBig Sky Public Relations

Looking to attract millennials? It’s not all about pay anymore

“Can millennials learn to love orange juice?” questions a recent Washington Post headline. “Why Millennials Need to Save Twice as Much as Boomers Did,” declares another from Money Magazine. A new study or article on millennials is published virtually every day. It’s clear everyone has an opinion about them, but how will millennials impact us here in Montana?

The need for millennials in Montana is paramount, especially since they are on track to become the largest workforce in the nation. Larger, even, than the baby boomers who comprise more than a third of the current workforce and are starting to retire. Yet, it is estimated that millennials make up only 10% of the population in Flathead County, down significantly from the national average.

At the same time, millennials are projected to make up half of the U.S. workforce by 2020 and a whopping 75% of the global workforce by 2025, just 8 short years from now. So how can Montana attract them? For many millennials, Montana has inherent attraction with its picturesque national parks and close-knit communities; the state offers a lifestyle not found elsewhere, and this is important.

Studies indicate that pay is not the end-all when it comes to millennials choosing one job over another. In fact, according to a report by Fidelity Investments, when millennials were asked which they valued more, financial benefits or improved quality of life, 58% chose “quality of life.” Thankfully, the quality of life Montana offers, with its friendly communities and incredible outdoor recreation opportunities, is second to none.

And quality of life can be incorporated into the workday, an essential concept for businesses wishing to attract millennials. Montana businesses can leverage the state’s unique qualities through programs and benefits offered while at work. For example, team-build activities conducted in the outdoors might be a great inducement for young workers. Or an employer might offer flexible office hours to free employees up to enjoy winter or summer sports.

Employers also need to expunge the notion that millennials are lazy and entitled. Many millennials are passionate, energetic and committed team members, particularly when working in a meaningful job.

Millennials can, in fact, help improve a company’s success. Take for example Wisetail, a Bozeman-based independent software company. According to a 2016 opinion piece written by CEO Justin Bigart, millennials have helped boost his company’s growth significantly. In 2016, Wisetail saw its 17th straight quarter of growth, and; in the last three years they’ve grown revenues nearly 2,000 percent without any outside financing. Bigart credits much of the success to his staff, whose average age is 28. “Far from lazy and entitled, our team is made up of creative and bold thinkers who are dedicated to each other and passionate about problem-solving. In short, they care,” Bigart says.

Montana businesses that showcase (and market) the “good” in their business will also attract more millennials. Millennials care less about how much profit a business makes than did their predecessors, the baby boomers. Rather, they are interested in how a business treats its people and customers and whether it models honesty and integrity, according to a 2016 Deloitte survey.

How can a business market its “good?” A business should identify how it is genuinely contributing to the community it serves and make that central to company culture. Are there lifestyle benefits that the organization offers that set it apart, aside from profit shares and financial rewards? If so, capitalize on them. Perhaps a business provides on-site childcare or offers a great wellness plan. Once the organization’s authentic effort to serve its community is identified, the news should be shared extensively through social media channels and the company’s newsletter and website. Every effort should be made to highlight the human side of a business, crafting messages to show how the company conducts “social good.”

By embracing the generational values of tomorrow’s leaders and emphasizing the singular quality of life available here, Montana businesses can go far towards attracting a vital young workforce. Much like the state’s highways, the road to a great millennial team stretches long and it is paved with opportunity.

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