How to Hire Millennials that Fit Your Company Culture

How to Hire Millennials that Fit Your Company Culture

Recruiters frequently face two simultaneous goals for company growth: Hire more millennials and young workers with high potential for growth, and make sure that new recruits are a good fit for the company culture. 

This is especially important for millennials, who are expected to represent around 75% of the workforce by 2025. They are also far more likely to hop between jobs than previous generations according to Gallup studies, and are more likely to change jobs because they do not agree with company values or culture. 

So how do HR and associated recruiters find millennials that are a great fit for the company to ensure retention and a healthy workplace? Let’s start with some important definitions.

Smiling multiracial team standing confidently in a modern office setting.

What is “Cultural Fit”?

Cultural fit refers to the values, priorities, beliefs, and behaviors of the employer vs. the employee, and how well they match. A good culture fit means that the employee already agrees with the values and beliefs of the company they are working for.

A bad cultural fit means that employees have significantly different outlooks compared to the company – and that’s a warning sign for millennials in particular. 

The Gallup studies we mentioned above report that only 29% of millennials report they are engaged at work, while the rest feel emotionally and behaviorally disconnected. And 16% are actively disengaged, which makes it likely they are doing damage to their organizations by staying there.

What exactly are millennials unhappy about? The “culture” part of cultural fit is a broad term that can refer to communication styles, company events, what gets mentioned in emails or memos, meeting structures, how employees treat each other, what type of work/life balance is encouraged, and so on. 

It also refers to things that businesses are not doing, which can include not recognizing certain holidays, not helping the community, not adequately compensating employees, and not prioritizing diversity or equality. 

Tips for Hiring for Cultural Fit

Hiring for cultural fit creates several risks. It can encourage unconscious biases in the hiring process, and lead to interviewers basing their decisions on personal connection to the applicant, rather than how well they will fit with the company as a whole. 

Over time, focusing too much on cultural fit can also create a workplace that lacks diversity and new ideas, and is unable to adapt to changing times.

This doesn’t mean recruits should avoid considering cultural fit. Cultural fit is still a good metric for focusing on retention and recognizing if applicants simply won’t be happy at a company. But it should be used appropriately. 

Here are few examples of what to keep in mind: 

  • Identify the value pillars of the company. Use mission statements, previous reports, surveys, and other tools to find out what is important to the company. Create a few new statements that reflect these values. Share those statements in job positions and interviews so that applicants understand more about the company culture and how the company would like to behave. 
  • Make interviews interactive. Applicants are usually interested in the general “vibe” of a business or location. Include company tours as part of the interview, and allow applicants to talk to other employees if they want. Some organizations even assign employees to be available for conversations or walkthroughs with applicants. 
  • Include open-ended questions. Open-ended questions are a healthy part of the interview process, and can help recruiters learn much more about an applicants’ perspective. This makes it easier to compare their views to the company’s own values.
  • Allow applicants to ask their own questions. Reserve a portion of any interview for the applicant to ask their questions, too. This allows applicants to get a better idea of the company culture and talk about specific things that are important to them. 
  • Don’t let the company set cultural filters. Avoid preconceptions and theories that exclude certain types of people from the company culture – i.e., “No one with dyed hair would want to work in a place like this,” or “If an applicant doesn’t show up in a suit for their interview, they don’t belong at this company.”

What Do Millennials Value?

If one of your stated goals is to attract more millennial workers to your organization, there are many ways to encourage the kind of culture that millennials tend to work in. 

We have many years of research about what millennials prefer in an employer and what kind of workplaces they like. They share several important values that can influence their decisions: 

  • Active engagement and change: Millennials want to matter, and they are used to making individual decisions to effect change in issues that matter to them. That could include where they shop, where they work, how they volunteer or donate, and more. 
  • Moving away from professional status: Millennials tend to dislike work hierarchies, and prefer to work together to find creative solutions no matter what their roles may be.
  • Connecting with a superior: Millennials prefer leaders they can connect with one-on-one as a mentor, someone they can easily ask questions of and receive advice on many different topics.
  • Tech-first workplaces: This generation grew up with digital technology and fully embraces tech solutions. They like workplaces that make using technology easy.
  • Measuring productivity in task completion, not time invested: Millennials are task-oriented and don’t judge themselves or others on how much time is spent on a project, but rather on completing that project effectively. It’s no surprise millennials also tend to prefer flexible schedules and hybrid workplaces. 
  • Team environments: Millennials like working together as teams focused on a common goal with frequent communication.
  • Willingness to learn: Millennials appreciate opportunities to learn new things.

Additionally, there are many steps that can be taken to draw in millennials to join with and remain with your organization.

How to Attract Millennials to Your Workplace

  • Create a collaborative culture instead of a competitive one: Millennials would much rather work with others in a team than compete for any sort of bonus, commission, or reward. Encourage team bonding and mentorship.
  • Give employees more autonomy: When possible, empower employees to make their own decisions, and focus more on how well tasks are done than how long employees spend working on them. Accept flexible schedules and work from home arrangements.
  • Encourage growth and exploration: Encourage employees to pick their own training paths and what type of up-skilling they want to pursue. Work to connect motivations and value to the day-to-day work that employees do: This helps give millennials purpose, and the freedom to find out where they excel. 
  • Connect your company to the community and important causes: Millennials prefer to champion causes and they like to see businesses that take important causes seriously. That includes giving back to the community, respecting the rights of others, working to take care of the environment, and much more.  
  • Respect employee worth: Millennials are very sensitive to the value they bring to the workplace, and how well they are rewarded for what they do. It’s important for a workplace to be aware of the cost of living, what sort of compensation young workers prefer, and if employees feel like they are not being compensated fairly, especially in comparison with peers or executives.
  • Be transparent: Practice openness and honesty in how the company communicates to employees. Be up front about changes, company goals, and strategies – then ask for input. Millennials prefer to be involved and informed at their jobs. 
  • Care about employee wellbeing: Treat employees as humans, and create policies that encourage a healthy work/life balance. Policies should also attempt to prevent overwork or other stresses on the job.

We talk more about what millennials want in a workplace and what’s important to them in this guide.

Millennials and Your Company Culture: Putting It All Together

As your organization attracts more millennials who feel at home in your company culture, they in turn will start influencing workplace practices. 

This is another reason that it’s important to continue asking for feedback from current employees and listen to the concerns of millennials. Listen, adapt, be open to new ideas, and the workplace culture can shift over time to become more welcoming and knowledgeable of what millennials want. 

Part of that process also means that millennials will be open to learning new skills, growing their talent, and eventually entering company leadership. If you want to encourage this process, we have a list of tips on preparing millennials for leadership roles in the workplace. 


Understanding both cultural goals and what millennials look for in businesses can help recruiters find the right employees for company fit without risking stagnation. 

If you would like to explore more about millennials and their connections with today’s companies, you should take a look at KnowledgeCity’s brief, informational course on Generational Differences in Today’s Workplace as a starting point. You may also be interested in learning more about Creating a High-Performance Work Culture.

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