Millennials want to see your company values, not hear about them

When trying to attract Millennials, companies have become better at communicating their culture and company values. They’ve come to realize that Gen Y expects a lot from a prospective employer, so they’re increasingly using technology to deliver this key information in an appealing manner. Employees are often featured in videos, letting future employees “walk” with them through their day as they explain how their job blends with the company culture.

It’s true that Millennials are defined by their pursuit of meaning in the workplace, as well as their active involvement in social causes. That’s precisely why a company’s culture and its value are of significant importance both in recruiting Millennials as well as retaining them.

But what’s of even greater significance for these young talents is seeing companies act on those values. It’s not enough to state them anymore. Millennials expect proof, be it in CSR efforts, brand positioning or recruitment efforts. They want to see companies practice what they preach.

One of the key takeaways at the third Global Public Relations Summit in Miami was that Millennials care less about corporate philanthropy and stories of big cash donations, and more about the ways in which corporations are solving social problems.

What Millennials expect to see

As Millennials became a larger and larger share of the marketplace, the idea of “cause marketing” has evolved from a promising promotional strategy to the key differentiator, not only in deciding what to buy, but who to trust and reward with brand loyalty.

Moreover, Cone Communication’s most recent study discovered that cause marketing is no longer a competitive differentiator, unless it’s also accompanied by a genuine effort on the part of companies to prove how their efforts are making a real impact on achieving results. (Source)

Millennials place a great emphasis on being supported and appreciated in the workplace. They expect flexibility, recognition and transparency.

According to the PwC’s NextGen study, 64% of Millennials would like to occasionally work from home, and 66% of Millennials would like to shift their work hours.

When it comes to recognition, 41% of Millennials prefer to be rewarded or recognized for their work at least monthly, if not more frequently, whereas only 30% of non-Millennials would like that level of frequency.

Millennials place a high priority on workplace culture. They expect a work environment that promotes teamwork and a sense of community. They also value transparency (predominantly as it relates to decisions about their careers, compensation and rewards). They want to provide feedback on their work assignments and they expect support from their supervisors.

Even though Millennials have a natural aptitude for technology, email and social media platforms are not always their communication tools of choice, particularly when it comes to discussions with their managers about their careers.

As employees, they want to feel like they represent the company values. At it doesn’t stop with them – they also expect their coworkers and their managers to live those values on a day-to-day basis. Consistency is imperative.

Put your company values into practice

(You have to determine and communicate them first, you do know that, right?)

There are any number of ways in which you can demonstrate your values to prospective employees, as well as existing ones.

From a brand positioning point of view, you could invite prospects to join your company for a few days or for a specific event. They can form their own opinion and get the pulse of the company, with little or no filters.

In the interview stage, I think that checking for cultural compatibility and cultural fit is a must. At Hppy, we use a framework that we ourselves have designed, to learn more about a potential employee’s personal values and see how they could relate to our company values.

When it comes to your HR processes, you could put company values at the basis of almost any process. Particularly when it comes to recognizing someone’s achievements. You could implement an Employee of the month program, the main selection criteria being your company values and how they were demonstrated in everyday actions.


Millennials have changed the rules of the game, mainly because they have a low tolerance for lack of authenticity and push marketing. They truly care about their personal values and they are strong supporters of social causes.

As an employer, you have to match those expectations, in an active manner. Not just talk about them. But really demonstrate them through concrete actions. Before working with you, Millennials need to know that your company values are compatible with their own. And they won’t just take your word for it.

Image credit: Philippe Lewicki under C.C.2.0