PR Insider: Millennials are not the Enemy; They Just Need a Place to Thrive

Michael Olguin
Michael Olguin

Over the last few years, every article written about Millennials starts off rationalizing why they are so difficult to work with, lack loyalty, don’t really care about anyone but themselves, and, most notably, aren’t motivated. That’s not going to happen here. I have always deeply appreciated Millennials, and I believe their success is completely dependent on building a culture in which they can thrive. At Formula, more than 60 percent of our staff is Millennials; as a result, we have worked tirelessly to build programs for them and with them.

The following is our approach to engage Millennials:

  • Leverage their enthusiasm - Millennials have a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm; it is paramount that your organization allows them to demonstrate that excitement. This could take many forms—from serving on your fun committee or helping to fuel internal programs to contributing fresh ideas to creative sessions or planning and executing events. Leveraging their enthusiasm in a positive manner can truly be a win-win situation.
  • Millennials care - Unlike many previous generations, Millennials are extremely driven by social causes. They care about community issues and generally are very mission driven in how they live their lives. As such, launching a program within your organization can bind them to you in a stronger way. At Formula, we launched the Homeless Project, in which employees are invited to visit one city in the country to learn about how it is approaching the homeless epidemic. They will then contribute their stories to a book that will be sold to benefit shelters and other support groups.
  • You can learn from them - Millennials grew up on social media and thus have a much greater working knowledge of it than Baby Boomers or Gen X. Given that all aspects of marketing are moving towards consumer engagement, you should leverage the combined needs of your organization with the Millennial resources available by having them play a part on your social media team. You could even consider organizing a lunch-and-learn program during which Millennials can share their acumen with staff that may be more senior but less adept at social media
  • Reward initiative and results - Knowing that Millennials desire to have responsibility and authority, we have created an organization that promotes people based more on their skills, initiative and results rather than experience or tenure. We believe that if you’re good at what you do, you should be rewarded with promotions, raises and new opportunities.
  • Play hard, work hard - Millennials love jobs that don’t feel like jobs, because if their job feels like all work and no play, they will quit. For this reason, it is imperative that you allow your Millennials to create a culture that is fun. At Formula, we have a work hard, play hard mentality. We have summer Friday BBQs, beer and wine tastings, costume contests, video challenges, and many more things that allow our Millennials to express their personalities in the same environment where they deliver their best work.
  • Millenials are creative - Millennials are well read and information hounds; a combination that we believe translates into a creative mindset. Consequently, we include our Millennials in all aspects of our brainstorms and creative sessions. This often yields fresh, on-trend ideas that can be included in proposals and PR programs. Nothing makes Millennials more attached to their jobs than feeling like their thoughts and opinions really matter.

As the old adage goes, if you can’t beat them, join them. We have done just that. We have created a culture in which Millennials are welcomed, supported, encouraged, challenged, validated and rewarded for their talent and what they bring to the company. Long story short, if you take the time to create a workplace that engages Millennials, they will succeed and, in turn, so will you.

Michael A. Olguin is the president of Formula PR. He has represented such high-profile brands as Newcastle Brown Ale, Tecate, Wyndham Hotels, Kashi, Nestle, Pottery Barn, ESPN, SodaStream, among many others. Follow: Michael: @FormulaPR, @MichaelOlguin