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Millennials at the water cooler Image: Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe Stock

Talent Talk: What Is Your Company’s Millennial Score?

When companies ask me why they cannot seem to “find” younger workers, I must be honest and tell some of them: “We can find them, they just don’t want to work for your company.”

Recently I have been hearing a common theme among plastics companies about how difficult it is to find younger professionals with the skill sets they need. So, I wanted to shed some light on the subject in three parts. Today we will cover how to assess your organization and why that is important, but I also cannot resist one last plug for considering those further into their careers: "Why You Should Hire the Older Worker."

We are talking about the group generally referred to as Generation Y, or the millennials. They are currently in their mid-20s to about 40. As a group, they are looking for very different things than previous generations when considering who to work for. Before a company can consider how to attract and land them, it needs to take an objective look at how attractive the company is to that group. I call that the company’s Millennial Score.

More so than any previous generation, millennials want to work for a company they believe is making a difference in the world or at least in their communities. That can take many forms. Think of TOMS Shoes. Many companies sell shoes, but TOMS donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair it sells. If you think plastics companies can’t do something like that, you’re wrong. Look at Lego. It has made a commitment to run off 100% renewable energy by 2030 and is consistently ranked among the most socially responsible companies.

Does your company do anything that would appeal to millennials? Many studies have shown these things are critical in millennials’ decision process when looking for a job, and that they are far more likely to leave if they do not see their company as a good corporate citizen. That could involve donating time to local charities, using recycled plastics, planting trees, or any number of other things. When companies ask me why they cannot seem to “find” younger workers, I must be honest and tell some of them: “We can find them, they just don’t want to work for your company.”

What about money and benefits? They tend to be a little less intrinsically motivated by money, but they also have tremendous student loan debt, so they need a decent salary. Also, bonus potential is attractive. A few companies are starting to implement programs to pay a portion of an employee’s student loan, provided they stay with the company longer-term. Non-immediate cash benefits like a 401(k), traditional medical and dental coverage, and life insurance aren’t too important. There is one big exception, and that is time off or flexible schedules. Millennials really value a life/work balance.

Next week we will cover some specific ways you can advertise job openings that will appeal to millennials.

About the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at

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