Entice Millennials with a Culture Emphasizing Quality of Life

By Kathy Gurchiek and Tony Lee July 20, 2016
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) attended the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, reporting on events relevant to the HR profession. SHRM was the only HR organization at the convention and had a contingent, led by Henry G. "Hank" Jackson, SHRM president and CEO, representing SHRM members and the HR profession. SHRM attended the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia the following week.

  • For SHRM's complete coverage of the 2016 Republican National Convention, click​ here.​​​​​​​
  • For SHRM's complete coverage of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, click​ here.​​​​​​​

CLEVELAND—Employers need to encourage and emphasize the importance of having a life outside  work if they hope to attract Millennials, two big-city mayors said Tuesday during a panel presentation at the Republican National Convention. 

Betsy Price and Mick Cornett, mayors of Fort Worth, Texas, and Oklahoma City, respectively, offered their advice at the GOP Urban Mayors Forum sponsored by the Republican Main Street Partnership. The forum—held in the Maxine Goodman Levin College at Cleveland State University—addressed the revitalization of cities and suburbs, including the many human capital issues they're facing.

"We realized we were quickly hemorrhaging  all of our college graduates to Austin, Texas, while the others were going to Dallas, and we started looking at why that was," Price said. 

The city learned that Millennials were looking to locate in cities that offered such amenities as hiking trails, bike paths and other opportunities for "outdoor living," as well as cultural outlets and transit options that go beyond cars. So, she says, business leaders quickly took steps to add those amenities.

Once a city starts to improve its competitive position, employers need to take steps to attract recent college graduates, Price told SHRM Online. She suggested that companies emphasize the importance of having a "quality of life" outside of work, which they can do best by encouraging civic volunteerism; providing workplace flexibility; and communicating expectations that employees should have time for family, even during working hours for school events.

"Encourage them and get them engaged," she said. It's a way "for employers to say 'we want you' in our city and at our organization." It's a strategy that is working for Fort Worth, she noted. "Fort Worth is the cool place to be."

Listening to the needs and expectations of local graduates entering the workforce is also key, Cornett said. In Oklahoma City, he said, it's been a challenge helping older business owners understand that many of the business practices that worked well 20 years ago don't work anymore. And, he added, because employers can't expect those practices that work well today to still be viable 10 years from now, they must plan ahead to stay competitive in 2026 and beyond.

Meeting of Minds

HR professionals struggling to find a way to skillfully resolve conflict or divergent points of view may want to heed the advice of Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), the former mayor of Dayton, Ohio.

During the forum, Turner shared a technique that he has found effective. He tells someone with an opposing point of view, "I know you're not right, but could you please tell me why I'm wrong."
It's an invitation, he told SHRM Online after the forum, for the other party to offer a critique so that an understanding can be reached.

"We didn't try to sell the other person," when we used this technique, "we just tried to find the right solution."

Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News. Tony Lee is vice president of editorial for SHRM.


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