Silicon Valley created the perception that millennials are all wanting to start technology startups or enter the corporate world. In reality, however, there are many young entrepreneurs who run their own small businesses in local communities. In its latest Future of Work report, in which more than 2,300 small business owners and operators were surveyed, the personal software company Gusto found that millennial small business owners in particular have a “community mindset”. This mindset focuses on an inclusive, social mindset in the workplace to drive business success.
In the survey, millennials were defined as respondents between 19 and 36 years of age and non-millennials as respondents between 37 and older. According to the survey, more than half of millennial respondents (59 percent) agreed that promoting a sense of community in the workplace is important to the company’s financial success, compared with less than half of non-millennial respondents (47 percent). The report also found that 43 percent of millennial business owners have regular contact with employees outside the office, compared with 28 percent of non-millennial entrepreneurs. It was also found that younger small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners were more likely to prioritize diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
However, the survey data only tells half the story. Gusto serves nationwide as a platform for human resources (HR) and performance management (BA) for more than 40,000 small companies. Earlier this year Joshua Reeves, CEO of Gusto, went on a cross-country road trip to meet a number of the company’s small business clients. He found some defining features of this “millennial community mindset” in many different types of small business.
“Millennials don’t see their business just as a profit and loss account,” said Reeves. “From a motivation standpoint, there has been a broader bias among millennial business owners towards more quality components – much more interest in community fulfillment at work, connections with their own colleagues, and even things like accomplishments – that are important to employees. It’s not just the opportunity to offer a product or service, it’s the team that you’re building. “
Reeves spoke to PCMag to break down the survey results and discuss some of the innovative or unique small businesses he has come across on his journey that really come to mind.
1. Flexible schedules
Reeves said an important part of building communities with small business employees is letting them be themselves. Sometimes this means bypassing employee plans. He gave the example of a specialty boutique in which one of their salespeople (see picture above) is also a traveling violinist.
“Not everyone makes 9-5 models anymore. A company in Jacksonville [Florida] Subculture Corsets gives people the flexibility to take the time they need to create better employees over the long term, ”Reeves said. “You employ a musician who is also going on a world tour, so she doesn’t work during this time. But they’re excited about bypassing schedules and planning ahead, giving her the chance to indulge in that passion while also giving her a job with a stable income when she’s back in town. “
2. Create a unique work environment
The Future of Work report found that millennial SMB owners naturally encourage more diverse, inclusive workplaces. In practice, Reeves said that such an atmosphere can help create more community and encourage customer loyalty.
“There is always more fragmentation. Consumers want to receive unique products and services, and we are seeing a bloom in small businesses that are adding that unique product to a unique environment, ”Reeves said. “Teams cannot be cloned. The grouping of people with a common passion or interest conveys this to everyone who visits the company. There are many ways to automate, but there is no substitute for that. “
4. Give your team options
Tools like BambooHR, Gusto and Zenefits Z2 allow small businesses to offer enterprise-level HR, salary and performance options through simple, cloud-based dashboards and mobile capabilities. Since SMBs can more easily automate the registration and onboarding process for different plans and packages, it is easier to drive retention and community building by offering tailored options to employees.
“In Nashville, a retail outlet called Fat Bottom Brewing has defined its own benefits and contributions and has made offerings to the team based on what employees can afford,” Reeves said. “You gave them more choices for things like health insurance. The company gave options of whether to be more or less aggressive in their insurance plans, rather than saying, “Here’s what we picked, so either use it or find out for yourself.”
5. The freedom to experiment
One topic that Reeves kept coming back to is this “millennial community mindset.” Younger small business owners aren’t afraid to try new methods. Reeves pointed out Camelback Ventures, a New Orleans-based not-for-profit organization that experimented with a five-hour workday to allow employees to be more focused and aware during work hours. This gave the employees the freedom to explore other interests after hours. This is just an experiment, but it speaks to this millennial mindset that a startup mentality applies to local businesses.
“That feedback loop where you try an idea and have the flexibility to adjust it and try something different – is very important to that idea of how you’re promoting a community,” Reeves said. “They use some of them [startup] Philosophies that show how we live and work today. And luckily, there is technology there that makes it easier. From a team perspective, they then build their business by thinking about how they would like to be treated, how a manager or colleague should interact with them. We’re moving towards a pretty exciting trend in how these companies work. “