by theEMPLOYEEapp | April 29, 2015

The millennial workforce prefers to work for a small business.A 2014 study conducted by Millennial Branding and Payscale, Inc. found that nearly half (47 percent) of the millennial workforce is employed by small businesses (defined as business with less than 100 employees). That number eclipses the 23 percent who work for companies with more than 1,500 employees.

So, why are many millennials ditching high-paying corporate gigs in favor of small business opportunities? Additional findings from this and other studies point to Gen Y workers seeking particular attributes from jobs and organizations, and placing priority on things like collaboration, “meaningful work,” and entrepreneurial environments. Some additional stats that help us understand this generation:

• 92 percent believe that business success is defined by more than just straight profit
• 80 percent prefer real-time recognition over formalized performance reviews
• 61 percent feel a personal responsibility to “make a difference”
• Half want to start their own business

It is estimated that by 2025, 75 percent of the global workforce will be millennials. So how can your small business make choices today that will keep you competitive in the race for millennial talent?

Play to your strengths: Gen Y is already choosing small businesses and start-ups over corporations and established brands—bolster and market the aspects of small business culture that are drawing millennial talent:

Flexibility is king. Millennials value flexibility in all aspects of their work life, from flexible scheduling and the option to work remotely to a flattened company hierarchy and “lattice” opportunities that allow them to gain exposure to all aspects and players within the business, regardless of job title or role.

A technology-driven culture. Gen Y came of age with technology at their fingertips and innovation a daily occurrence. They are looking for a work environment that allows them to use technology as a solution to common workplace issues, whether that is communication and collaboration tools accessed via mobile or simply the ability to access social networks at the office.

Trophies for all. Much fun has been had at the expense of millennials raised in a culture of “it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about participating in the game.” But this award-driven upbringing has produced a results-driven workforce. Make sure to give the millennial workforce the opportunity to pitch in and feel ownership over projects – highlight key wins in real-time to keep motivation and engagement high.

Creating a culture that offers open opportunity and avoids the bureaucracy associated with larger companies can give small businesses an advantage in attracting and retaining millennial talent—and ultimately boost employee morale, which has been shown to boost the bottom line.

*For our purposes, millennials (also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y) are the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates when the generation starts and ends. Researchers generally use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.

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