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10 Tips for Attracting (and Retaining) Millennial Engineers

Dec. 6, 2016
Just like every generation before them, millennials must be empowered via a special approach to do their best work.

Millennials grew up in a world that was very different from that of their parents. Sometimes called the “connected” generation, they have spent the majority of their lives hyperconnected—thanks first to the internet, then mobile devices, and ultimately smartphones. They grew up with their own unique set of values, beliefs, and expectations about what their jobs should be like.

As an employer, it’s important to look at millennials as opportunities. After all, they’ll eventually be the ones continuing the legacy of large and small companies alike. And this may be happening sooner than you think.

Pro tip: Get a head start against your competition—start attracting and retaining those millennial engineers now. To help you get started, we’re going to provide you with the following 10 simple and effective tips.

1. Establish a personal connection. Millennial engineers care about who they work with, and wish to see the company as more than a faceless, money-making entity. Try to connect to your employees on a personal level so they feel part of a dynamic community of like-minded individuals.

2. Project shared values. Prove to them that your company cares about current events of the world and the collective values of humanity. This includes supporting charities and taking an active interest in the local community. At the end of the day, millennials want to contribute to something bigger than themselves.

3. Prioritize continuous learning. Millennial engineers understand that the best learning occurs during practical, hands-on projects that allow them to be challenged and to continually learn new skills. Encourage experimentation and rapid prototyping to make them feel most empowered.

4. Create an atmosphere that respects individuality. Don't try to tie your engineers down to arbitrary rules and regulations. Allow them to create their own niche within the workplace.

5. Trust their intelligence. Millennials have unfairly been labelled shallow, when they are in fact the most well-educated generation to date, with a keen understanding of global trends. Allow them to exercise their intellect in the pursuit of their work.

6. Be open and honest. Millennial engineers believe they have a right to know about the kind of work their company is involved in, and greatly value and appreciate transparency at the workplace. One of the quickest ways to repel millennials is to make them feel like they’re being lied to or kept in the dark.

7. Stop thinking entirely in terms of money. Previous generations may have been satisfied simply with increasing paychecks, but the present generation understands there is more to life than making money. They look for jobs that allow them to achieve greater work-life balance. To many millennials, compensation is a “hygiene factor”: Above a certain point, adding more won’t increase motivation.

8. Value individuality. If there is one thing millennial engineers hate, it's being made to feel like mindless robots, only capable of performing the same task day after day until retirement. Learn to recognize and acknowledge individual talents and the value they add to your company. Create opportunities for your employees to stretch outside of their 9-to-5 responsibilities.

9. Foster team spirit. In order to feel closer to their teammates and foster a feeling of community, encourage and coordinate team-building exercises that allow millennial engineers to get to know other employees throughout the company. Such exercises also help improve work efficiency and increase productivity because they foster greater interdepartmental collaboration.

10. Offer interesting challenges. Millennial engineers wish to work in a company that offers them a challenge and pushes the limits of their skill set and knowledge. Try to give them projects that let them develop a different approach, and an out-of-the-box solution.

Millennial engineers are seeking companies that understand their 21st Century dreams and aspirations, and are willing to work with them to make those dreams a reality. Evolving the company structure to meet their expectations can help you find bright and talented young engineering minds that view the world with energy and optimism, and can add great value to your enterprise.

Like all lists, this one is not comprehensive. Ultimately, the best talent is looking for opportunities where they can be part of something bigger. We would love to connect with you and hear about what motivates you.  Leave us some comments on the kind of challenges and growth you are seeking.

About the Author

Tommy Reed | Vice President of Technology

Tommy Reed is a Director of Technology Strategy at L3Harris.  In his current role, he is shaping the company’s strategy through focused R&D and a solid understanding of the changing threat environment. Prior to joining L3Harris, Tommy was Chief Technology Officer at Bliley Technologies, where he led the engineering function and set the technology strategy for the company. Tommy holds a MSEE from the University of Florida.

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