The One Critical Thing You Need to Tell Millennials During Onboarding

3 min read
Jun 4, 2015

Optimized-iStock_000036855114_SmallThe traditional classroom-and-paperwork approach to onboarding isn’t going to cut it with millennials. The last thing that is going to engage new, young hires and bring them into the fold is listening to a lecture for the first eight-hour workday.

Instead, as this generation starts leaning toward seeking out a job where they can matter and serve a purpose, onboarding should clearly foster that spirit with fewer lectures and more personal interaction.

According to Deloitte:

  • 6 in 10 millennials say “a sense of purpose” is part of the reason they chose a new job

  • Among millennials who are high users of social networking tools, “a sense of purpose” is even more of a reason for choosing a job at 77%

Clearly career goals have shifted with the new working generations. A paycheck doesn’t speak as loudly as a job where they see a sense of purpose. In turn, companies need to shift perspective on onboarding. The employee onboarding process should focus on how an employee’s role contributes to success within the team, the company as a whole, and even society at large.

The Team: Team Members Matter

Despite the narcissism stereotype, millennials have proven to be very team-oriented. According to a CIRCLE study where millennials were asked, “How much difference do you believe people working together as a group can make in solving problems?”:

  • 92% said it would make “some” difference

  • 62% said it would make “a great deal” of difference

  • 1% said it would make no difference at all

When the same study asked, “How much difference do you believe you can personally make in solving problems?”:

  • 63% said “some” difference

  • 18% said “a great deal” of difference

Millennials see teamwork as more likely to make a great deal of difference.

During onboarding, make the faces of all team members immediately recognizable. Gather everyone together for a welcome lunch, and encourage employees to tell their own stories about working for the company. Even introduce a mentorship program that can foster a spirit of teamwork within new hires.

The Company: Goals and Values Sre Crucial

Because millennials want to understand how their day-to-day work influences the organization as a whole, understanding company objectives and values is a key step in onboarding. Companies should already clearly display their core values to all hires, but it’s particularly important during a new hire’s first few days and weeks on the job.

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Managers should work with new hires during onboarding to relate their position and daily tasks to these core goals and values — drawing a straight line between what they are doing and where the company is going.

Society: A Company’s Societal Impact Is a Differentiator

Remember the stat from above: 75% of millennials believe that businesses are focused on their own agenda rather than helping to improve society. That doesn’t sit well with the majority of millennial employees. And it’s up to onboarding to change that perspective about your own company’s societal impact.

You don’t have to be a nonprofit to attract millennials’ attention — though it wouldn’t hurt. Instead, during onboarding, highlight social causes that are important to the organization. If your employees participate in monthly or annual service projects, have pictures displayed throughout the office. Have existing employees discuss their experiences. If you donate a certain amount every time you hit a sales goal, make that part of your onboarding. And if you don’t donate to charitable organizations, whether it’s with time or money, it’s time to start. It can make a difference to a new millennial hire.

Millennials in the workplace want to understand where they fit within their team, the company, and society, and it’s up to the employee onboarding program to make that clear to new hires.


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