How To Attract Millenials to Your Industry

December 9th, 2015 • by Bill Madl
Bill Madl

Bill Madl

Bill Madl has been in the corrugated packaging industry for the past 47 years, with a graduate degree in Business Administration. He is also a certified “Jonah” from the Theory of Constraints, and a certified Carew Sales trainer.

In recent columns I discussed the need for successful companies to have a workforce skilled in 21st-century technology and the fact that competing in a global economy requires evaluation of our organization, workforce, and processes, respectively.

Now I would like to focus on changing company culture to attract a workforce with those necessary skill sets. Here are some ideas to attract millennials to a business.

Develop an Internship Program: An internship program for college or high school students exposes them to the creative and challenging world in a plant. They will have an opportunity to look at what goes on inside a manufacturing facility.

Be a Mentor: Pair a millennial with an experienced employee. There is a lot they can learn from each other, and this kind of interaction is important to this generation.Both the mentors and management should provide a creative environment to take advantage of this generation’s technological and innovative skills.

Nurture Creativity: Millennials like to approach problems creatively. Give them that freedom, and avoid “do it my way” and “we have always done it that way” directives. They need to be continually challenged to believe that what they do has both meaning and purpose.

Create a Team Environment: This generation values peer relationships as a means of learning and changing. They want to work with people they genuinely like and enjoy being with—both at work and outside of it.

Cultivate Work Culture: Millennials value an organizational structure that promotes collaboration, not hierarchy. They want honesty and transparency, not politics or corporate nonsense. Millennials aren’t all about the money; many value liking the job and being challenged over pay. Millennials require immediate attention and feedback. This generation is attracted to innovative technology. Doesn’t this sound like a perfect match for an industry in the process of rapid technological change?

Throw in Some Perks: What are some of the perks an industry needs to consider in order to compete for this generation?

  1. Flexible Schedules. Work hours are fluid to millennials. They work when there is work to be done, and that can be at 9 a.m. or midnight. Give them the autonomy to get the work done on their terms. Millennials seek this sort of flexibility.
  2. Continued Education. Provide on­going job training and reimbursement for courses at colleges and technical schools.
  3. Stress Reduction. Consider offering some free snacks, on-site massage chairs, or a game room. A relaxed employee is a productive employee.
  4. Company Activities. Plan biking, hiking, or skiing trips, movie days, summer picnics, holiday parties, health fairs, and quarterly off-site group gatherings.

I have a business veteran friend whom I respect and who, after reading this article, commented, “I think it will take a lot to get some of our older owners and managers to make those kinds of changes. I can just hear some of them when they read about some of the perks. They will say perks cost money they don’t have with existing margins,” my friend says. “However, in order to afford the new technology and continue to share in new and expanding markets, the cost-price relationship will have to take into account not only the cost of capital, but also the cost of personnel. In the end, the dinosaurs of an industry will be relegated to low margins; anybody can complain about their competitors who don’t allow them to make a decent profit. In the meantime, the industry innovators will see the writing on the wall and will adapt, change, grow, and prosper in the new world of 21st-century packaging.”

Your challenge is to hire, train, and provide the necessary tools and creative environment to be a world-class manufacturer. The world of manufacturing is changing, requiring an industry, and your company, to embrace a new workplace culture, new methods, new tools, new concepts, and a new generation of workers. We need to find ways to attract millennials to the world of manufacturing.