A home remodeling company? Are you thinking what I’m thinking? That doesn’t strike me as a super-hot place for millennials to work.
But it beat out popular employers like Google — by a lot (Google only ranked 25th) — even though Google has been No. 1 on Fortune’s annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For for six consecutive years.
Why the discrepancy? Because “best companies” rankings are generally based on both employee feedback and employer-reported perks and benefits, while Fortune’s millennial list was based solely on employee feedback. That’s one of the unique elements of this survey. The first, of course, is that they created it at all, which is testament to the power that millennials have in the workforce.
But the methodology they used is key. Fortune wasn’t just tracking which benefits and perks employers offer — data that can be misleading — but rather, it asked millennials themselves to share what was desirable about the companies they worked for. And in doing so discovered a lot about what millennials want in a workplace.
Putting Perks on Paper Isn’t Enough
My first job out of grad school was with WorkingWoman.com, part of the company that owned Working Mother, and I was there when the magazine released its first prestigious list of Working Mother 100 Best Companies. We thought our biggest cheerleaders would be the women whose companies made the list. But we were wrong.
What I remember clearly was the backlash we received from women whose companies were saying one thing and doing another. We heard comments like, “Sure we have a lactation room, but it’s in a far-flung closet and I would never use it.”
And that’s why I like Fortune’s new survey. It doesn’t rely on companies sharing what perks they offer; it’s letting millennials explain how those perks play out in real life. For example:
- You might think your company offers mobility to move from department to department, but young employees are thinking, “Yeah, but my boss would kill me if I jumped.”
- Paternity leave might be an official offering in your employee manual, but does anyone use it?
- You might have a ping-pong table, video games and other rec room staples in the office, but do employees really have time to enjoy them?
A lot of companies say they offer career counseling, volunteer opportunities, flexible schedules and more, but offering those perks isn’t enough. Employees have to value those perks and feel comfortable using them. In practice, they have to be making employees’ lives better.
Employers: What perk did you think would be a crowd-pleaser, but it just didn’t pan out? Millennials: What would you most like to see offered by your employer? Let me know in the comments!
Lindsey Pollak is a New York Times best-selling author and a nationally recognized millennial expert who helps employers recruit, train, manage and market to the millennial generation. Her speeches and training sessions inspire multigenerational collaboration and foster lasting organizational success. Contact Lindsey to learn how she can help your organization understand and connect with millennials.