Dallas has become a magnet for millennials according to a 2019 Brookings Institution report. Brookings used recently released migration data from the U.S. Census Bureau to identify major metros that attracted the most 25- to 34-year-olds from 2012 to 2017. Houston was the top metro area on the list with an average annual net migration of 14,767 young adults. Next were the Denver and Dallas areas, with an average of 12,667 and 12,665 millennials per year respectively.

The Brookings report says millennials (or Generation Y adults born 1981-1996) are more apt to shift with changing opportunities, particularly to areas with knowledge-based economies.

SMU PRO for Millennial Professionals

The SMU Professional and Online (SMU PRO) initiative has developed programs catering to millennials’ busy lives that boost career opportunities. With a wide range of degrees – including an online Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity ─ certificates and short courses, SMU PRO helps millennial professionals advance in their careers or transition successfully to new ones.

Related: SMU PRO Opens Doors to Career Opportunities: A Success Story

“Say Yes to Dallas”

Understanding the need for millennials to progress in their careers while focusing on work-life balance, the Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC) launched the “Say Yes to Dallas” campaign in 2017. The program aims to attract millennials and young professionals because more companies have been relocating to the area, including Toyota Motor’s North American headquarters, FedEx Office & Print Services, JP Morgan Chase, Liberty Mutual, McKesson, NTT Data, State Farm and more.

With an average of more than 300 people moving to the Dallas area every day, the “Say Yes to Dallas” website includes a regional job portal, as well as a recruiting toolkit for the companies in the region. The DRC says, “Because Dallas ranks as one of the most diverse economies in the nation, companies and organizations are drawing from a broad cross section of skills to fill positions in nearly every major discipline.” Dallas is also home to a booming tech and start-up sector.

Using videos, learning events and mixers, the DRC spotlights Dallas and the region as a great place to launch and grow a career, raise a family and experience a high standard of living ─ while maintaining an affordable cost of living.

Related: Attracting a Multigenerational Workforce: Tuition Reimbursement, Mentoring & More

Millennial Career Progression

The life stage of most millennials requires them to be open to new opportunities and make fast career decisions. Since millennials were raised during a time of massive corporate layoffs, many view loyalty in terms of months instead of years. In addition, their mobile technology-centric lifestyles make them more prone to think of traditional, 9-5 in a cubicle as an outdated work arrangement.

Gallup says millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually. However, 90% of millennials want to grow their careers with their current companies, according to Bridge.

Retaining Millennials as Team Members

The Pew Research Center says millennials became the largest generation in the workforce as of 2016. Employers and organizations must inspire millennials to stay by offering flexibility, growth, purpose and connections.

Flexibility

FlexJobs says 78% of millennials would be more loyal to an employer offering flexible work options, while more than 80% of millennials say they seriously consider how a position will affect their work-life balance.

To many millennials, a job with flexible hours that allows expanded work schedules beyond the typical 9-to-5 is a must. Consider that this generation is most likely to have young children, is continuing their education, and is seeking work-life balance because of multiple interests, varying workout schedules and more.

Employers that inspire loyalty will consider the ability for associates to work remotely. Rather than time in the office, managers of millennials will measure performance based on quality of work with tasks and projects completed in a timely manner.

Another area requiring flexibility is personal and sick days. According to Jive Communications, 64% of millennials will quit their jobs if it’s too difficult to take time off. Many corporations are now offering paid time off instead of personal and sick days to give their team members more flexibility.

Growth

The PwC Workforce of the Future Report says 52% of millennials prioritize opportunities for career progression as the most desirable quality in a workplace, followed by competitive wages and financial incentives (44%), good training and development programs (35%).

Millennials want a clear career path and support. Organizations investing in their career development will keep them engaged and productive. There have been major advancements in learning programs that meet diverse budget and time commitments, including tuition reimbursement for pursuing higher education, online master’s  and bachelor’s degrees, certificate programs, upskilling and refresher courses.

The Young Entrepreneurs Council suggests that startups and small- to medium-sized companies consider creating an 18-month promotions plan. The team member’s next career progression is chosen one year into the current position. Then the associate has six months to start learning the new job after he or she has achieved mastery of the current position.

For larger companies, regular employee reviews should include the team member’s career goals and ensure accomplishments are recognized. The review will incorporate a plan for employees to meet specified goals to assist with career progression. If a higher position is not available, the organization can assign additional responsibilities or offer mentoring to develop leadership skills, cross-departmental training and other ways to broaden team building, public speaking and other skill set.

The ultimate objective is to ensure millennials see a clear career path so that they are not looking elsewhere for growth opportunities.

Purpose

Millennials were raised to pursue their passions and purpose. These young professionals want to know that the work they do really matters. According to Gallup, 71% of millennials who strongly agree that they know what their organization stands for and what makes it different from its competitors say they plan to be with their company for at least one year.

Organizations should emphasize their unique value not only in the business world, but to their communities. In addition to spotlighting innovations and operational and financial advancements, companies need to clarify their mission and vision.

Millennials also want to know that what they are contributing to the organization is recognized and valued. These young professionals want to know that their leaders really care for them as people, not simply as employees.

In addition to financial compensation, organizations need to consider awards that include non-traditional ways of engaging the workforce. Time honored rewards such as recognizing an employee of the month, team member profiles in company newsletters, potlucks and happy hours, can be enhanced with extended team building events such as volunteering together.

Connections

Company culture has been at the forefront of an engaged workforce. Millennials want a work atmosphere and culture that supports their career advancements and their pursuit of purpose. They desire a connection with their teams. Regular check-ins and feedback from managers and other team members are important. Millennials will go the extra mile if they know their leaders back them up and will support their career progression.

Another aspect of connections is technology. Business meetings don’t require all team members in one conference room. Remote team members can collaborate and brainstorm using laptops, mobile devices and a reliable Wi-Fi connection. Work-life balance for millennials can be enhanced by optimizing technology, allowing dads to go to kids’ games and employees to pursue higher education, all while completing assignments and meeting their managers’ expectations.

Now that millennials are the dominant generation in the workplace, it’s important for employers and organizations to ensure they offer flexibility, growth, purpose and connections. As it turns out, the other generations in the workforce – Baby Boomers, Generations X and Z – appreciate much of the same values, too.

SMU PRO offers many learning opportunities for millennials to advance in their careers, including an online master’s degree in cybersecurity, certificate programs and more.

Employers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are encouraged to explore the SMU PRO corporate programs by calling 214-768-2273 or email smupro@smu.edu.