CASSANDRA Garber’s plan when she moved to Minnesota in her early 30s was to telecommute and keep her environmental stewardship job at Coca-Cola in Atlanta.
Then one night she went to a party and met up with some people around her own age who worked at 3M Co. They talked up the opportunity there and suggested she apply.
The company did work she would enjoy, they said, hailing pollution-prevention initiatives with customers. It ran contests that awarded employees prizes for suggesting ways to cut power and material use. “I was blown away. 3M has amazing sustainability programs,” said Garber, now 35 and head of 3M’s Strategic Initiatives for Sustainability. “Here we talk about doing business with purpose [and making] a positive difference in the world. Millennials are kind of expecting it and demanding it. Here, it’s the culture. You can do anything.”
Employers increasingly are focused on attracting and keeping employees in Garber’s age group, the millennial generation born in the last two decades of the 20th century. Few have been as effective as 3M, which recently came out on top in a national survey that asked 13,000 millennials where they would most like to work.
THINGS that appeal to these workers about the Maplewood-based company include mentors, training in the sciences, leadership programs and lots of flexibility for employees to work on projects of their own choosing. The survey, by the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS), found that millennials are looking for employers that are stridently committed to the environment, social causes, communities, teamwork and flexible work schedules.
With baby boomers hitting retirement age at the rate of 8,000 a day, according to American Association of Retired Persons, companies have little choice but to embrace these preferences. US census records show millennials number 83 million strong, displacing baby boomers as the largest generation in the work force. In Minnesota millennials make up 41 percent of the work force, state officials said.
A blitz of outfits from 3M and the US Chamber of Commerce to consulting giants, such as McKinsey & Co. and Deloitte are striving to educate employers so they can create welcome workplaces where this demographic wants to come and stay.
It’s critical, said Sean O’Neil, head of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce’s Grow Program.