PR is a fairly young industry. The average age of a person in the industry is 35-39, according to a study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Communications majors consistently rank in the top 10 of most-popular college majors. This means PR is filled with millennials, an age group that confounds many employers.
While there might be an influx of millennial PR employees, the age group is known for job-hopping more than generations past. Millennials are the most likely generation to switch jobs, according to Gallup’s May 2016 study, Millennials: The Job-Hopping Generation. Six in 10 millennials are open to new job opportunities, it says, and adds millennials remain the least-engaged generation in the workplace. With so much job-hopping, how can employers in PR retain millennial talent? After staffing a PR agency with solely millennial employees, I’ve learned a thing or four. Here are my best tips.
Keep Reviews Transparent
Having a superior give you a performance review can be nerve-wracking – that’s just the way it is. But it doesn’t have to be a panic-inducing stress fest if you keep the process transparent from the beginning. Transparency is essential to growing mutual trust, which, in turn, creates employee loyalty. When reviewing someone, make sure the person fully understands the steps that will occur. Facilitate open and honest conversation – no tricks or psychological games. Employees should know that reviews happen at certain intervals. They may request a review at a different time, of course, so you’ll need to decide a policy about that.
Make Office Culture as Important as The Work
The average employee spends at least 40 hours per week in the office, which is likely longer than is spent with family or friends – why not make the office a place the employees want to be, rather than one they can’t wait to escape as soon as the clock strikes 5? It’s important to millennial employees that they feel educated and enriched. Make it a point to promote continual learning and engagement. Also make sure to add in down time, whether it’s a team lunch, philanthropic volunteer days or group brainstorming.
Also important to a healthy office culture is a team atmosphere –encourage teamwork on all fronts and never force a competitive work environment. It is never conducive to a positive office vibe to pit employees against one another. Again – open, honest communication creates trust on all levels.
Have an Open-Door Policy
We’ve all worked for employers who didn’t seem to care much for the well being of staff – it’s not a fun work environment. When my husband and I started our PR agency, we knew that we wanted to create a space where employees felt valued and cared for – to that end we made sure that an open-door policy was in place to allow employees to come to us with everything from workload-balancing questions to writing advice or even just a compassionate ear. When employees feel valued they tend to stick around.
Be Flexible with Advancement and Growth Opportunities
Not everyone who works at a PR agency wants to do the same job for 40 years – and, as the data show, millennials are even less likely to want this. Avoid pushing a hard hierarchy ladder – allow employees to craft a path that fits their career goals. Do you have someone who shows an aptitude for a certain skill, like graphic design or writing? Find opportunities for that person to use his or her skill and nurture it. No, employees probably won’t stick around forever, but you’ll garner much more loyalty if you both have a shared set of goals and values. And bear in mind that sometimes offering a continued education opportunity or travel goes further than a bonus – every employee is different.
Millennials can be challenging to keep happy in the workplace, but if you’re struggling to understand how to relate to current or future millennial employees, simply ask. Regularly seeking advice from staff members will help keep you in the loop on what you can do to be more accommodating to your team – in fact, some of your best ideas may come from them.
Lauren Izaks is co-founder of All Points Public Relations