Any manager or CEO will tell you that the most successful programs they’ve had relied on having a great team in place. A team only works well when it has a smooth path for communication, great leaders, and engaged members. So how do you get your team excited? It may be easier than you think.

Since most of you are well acquainted with baby boomer and generation x employees, we’ll concentrate on the millennial mystery. Gaining a better understanding of the millennial workforce will help you attract them to your company and retain them for some time.

Please keep in mind that long-term retention is largely a thing of the past! It is not coming back. (Check out this article by Jacob Morgan with Forbes, 2014). A reasonable goal is 5-6 years of employee retention.

All that being said if you have a great battle plan that values your employees, your training dollars will come back to you. That’s right even employees who leave for greener pastures will often times return to your company and will bring their friends with a good work ethic. So here’s how to attract and keep these mysterious millennials and get great work out of them.

1. Adjust Your Perks- This does not mean you completely scrap old standards that still work for your veteran employees. Simply change some perks to meet the demand of newer applicants. Some ideas include:

  • Flex Schedules-Millennials like working different hours or having untraditional off days. Flexible hours have the added benefit of making your company more accessible to clients as well.
  • Open Door Policy – Remember that millennials like to offer input on company issues, even if they have only been with the company for a short time. Have an open mind to what they have to say because great ideas can come from almost anywhere or anyone. Even if the ideas are not utilized, they will appreciate you valuing their thoughts.
  • Fun Social Events- Millennials enjoy socializing and not just online. Add new and interesting company outings as part of your reward program. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a big event that the company foots the bill for. Meet a restaurant for trivia night at a restaurant close by, bring in cookies on Fridays, have random parties to reward big sales, go bowling. Millennials value relationships and fun, adding these perks go a long way in getting them inspired in their regular work and you might even find it adds some energy to the entire team.
  • Contests- Not the tired contests that make everyone roll their eyes and groan. Stretch your imagination and come up with fun new activities that make people get excited about working. Do you have a fast approaching deadline? Create a funny contest that gets your team moving and make the reward untraditional, like an extra day off or a gift card for the local coffee shop.
  • Make Your Work Meaningful-One of the top motivators for millennials is doing work that matters. Even if your work doesn’t seem world-changing, if you are helping just one person out, millennial employee’s interest level will dramatically increase.
  • Charitable Partnerships- This idea goes along with doing work that matters. Join forces with a homeless shelter, local school, hospital, or anything that inspires you. Have employees bring in donations or give portions of your sales to these non-profits. Your employees will find added inspiration in their work and less irritation with some of the more mundane tasks of the daily grind.

2. Consider changing Your Training/Management Style- As the baby boomers retire some management and training methods should be retired as well. Try to customize your training and management style to the individual as best you can. For millennials this means the following considerations:

  • Go Digital- Cut down on informational videos and tiresome forms. Add digital training, interviews, meetings, conferences and anything else you can to engage different employees in a way that adapts to their needs. Flexibility is key and a digital workplace increases productivity and even more importantly accessibility for workers at all levels.
  • Create Different Paths to Success- The new generation of workers do not accept the standard routes of promotion. For them, promotions don’t have to always be a vertical path, they can often feel successful with lateral moves as well. Look for different paths for individuals and find ways that they can best benefit your team.
  • Foster Personal Relationships- Get to know your new hires, make them feel like they are part of your team. People that feel more connected to their coworkers are less likely to leave their jobs.
  • Mentorship – After a new employee is trained and up and running, don’t just drop them in their position and forget about them. Check up on them occasionally. Go back and follow up on their projects. Remember, this generation thrives on teamwork and is used to a lot more input than past generations. Let them know that you are involved and available.
  • Encourage Creative thinking – Creative minds solve problems so encourage your team to think outside of the box.

3. Create a Flexible Workspace- Staying in one place is often hard for every generation. Things can get stale quickly. Add a couple of these touches if you can.

  • Standing Workspaces- Sitting down all day is tiring and bad for our health. If you can have a few areas where people can work while standing, add them in. Consider a standing desk option for those who are interested.
  • Sitting Areas- In the same way that sitting all day is draining, standing all day is exhausting as well. Have a comfortable area for people to work while sitting.
  • Break Zones- We all need a break periodically to keep ourselves fresh. Have a nice break area with comfortable seating and even a fun distractions like arcade style games or fresh snacks.

Go Outside- When possible work a portion of the day outdoors. Get some fresh air, it will wake up your employees and help them get through the long work hours. If you happen to work on a job site make sure to clear your head periodically and actually leave the area for at least 20 minutes. This again is health and in the end, it will make you more productive.