Reshape Your Company Culture to Attract Millennials



young-workers.jpgIt’s no secret that the manufacturing industry is facing a hiring crisis. Employee attraction and retention efforts must be made a priority if manufacturers want to continue operating into the future, as we discussed here. And with skilled trades jobs in Michigan expected to grow by more than 6,200 each year through 2022, now is the time to implement real solutions to ensure talent gaps are filled.

One key to filling this employment gap is Millennials. Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996, became the largest generation in the workforce in 2016 making up 56 million workers. Since then, this number has only continued to grow. However, as many business owners have learned, a simple job offer is not enough to attract and retain these new workers. If leaders have any hope of filling their talent gaps long-term, they must work to align their company values with those of younger generations.

What Do Millennials Value?
Hiring and retention practices that worked decades and even years ago are no longer sufficient for incoming generations. Workers’ top values no longer revolve around aspects such as job security and pay increases. Instead, Millennials and younger workers value:

  • Meaningful work. Individuals want to feel passionate about their jobs, as if they are making a meaningful contribution to the organization and to the greater good. Regardless of the position or industry, workers want purpose in their jobs and to feel like they are truly making a meaningful impact.
  • Collaboration. Rather than working in independent, isolated silos, younger generations prefer to work collaboratively. By sharing ideas and working together as a team to identify and enact solutions, each individual feels more involved, all while getting to know fellow workers better.
  • Staying connected. New generations grew up surrounded by advanced technology. These digital natives thrive when given the opportunity to use different types of technology and largely expect employers to rely on digital forms of communication to connect with workers.
  • Social justice. How does your company give back to the local community? What does your company stand for? When Millennials are job searching, these are important questions they need answered before deciding what kind of organization they want to work for.
  • Diversity. Young workers want to know that their organization actively supports diversity of thoughts and experiences. They want to feel as if alternative ideas and processes will be welcomed and respected, rather than ignored in efforts to maintain the status quo.
  • Education. Millennials want to learn. This curiosity is maximized in a job setting, where workers often are interested in upskilling and furthering their knowledge in order to reach their full potential in their roles, all while opening up new opportunities for future growth.
  • Skepticism. Distrust of authority is a common feeling among young people. To ensure workers understand all leaders’ intentions and goals, transparency is key.

How Can Companies Adapt to This Changing Workforce?
Millennials seek out companies that are passionate, trustworthy and inclusive. To ensure your organization’s culture is the right fit, leaders must:

  • Promote respect and trust. Workers want to feel valued and that their best interests are in mind. Acknowledge and take the time to get to know individuals on a personal level. Make transparency a priority in the organization, both with larger staff meetings and in day-to-day work to enhance trust.
  • Decrease opposition and conflict. Put an end to the culture of blame and finger pointing in your facility. Unite departments and promote collaboration and company-wide communication to reduce the potential for conflicts and foster a more positive work environment.
  • Increase buy-in and productivity. Encourage new ideas and listen to all contributions to show workers they can and should share any thoughts for improvement. Go out of your way to recognize a job well done, and ensure each worker sees how they are contributing to the company’s greater strategic goals. This will help them understand their role in the organization. It also will promote feelings of loyalty and motivation for success.

Solving the employment gap will not happen overnight. It requires time and dedication to transform your culture in order to make all generations feel welcome and like their values are being noticed and respected. Ask yourself, what do you have to do to change your culture?

For those interested in leading workers of all ages more effectively, The Center offers a Supervisor Skills course that covers a variety of leadership styles and ways to relate to all types of individuals. Learn more about this class and view the upcoming course schedule here.


Gomez_M-web.jpgMiguel Gomez, Quality Program Manager
Miguel is a Quality Program Manager at The Center. In his role, Miguel manages and delivers training and implementation assistance for Quality and Environmental Management Systems. Miguel comes from a strong technical background in Quality operations management, utilizing his experience in the industry to assist companies with implementing management systems including ISO 9001:2015, IATF 16949, ISO 14001 and Core Tools.

Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Categories: Leadership/Culture, workforce