Five ways to attract and retain a millennial workforce

Millennials make up the biggest share of the US workforce, yet move jobs more than any generation that came before; we look at how you can you ensure you are practicing the right methods of hiring and also retaining millennial workers

29Oct

Now occupying the largest share of the US workforce, millennials are expected to make up 50% of all workers by 2020, according to a report by Social Talent. Born between 1980–2000, these individuals are tech-savvy, highly-educated, confident and have few if any memories of life before mass digitization.

"Despite the often-negative stereotypes you hear about millennials, they are hardworking, digitally savvy and constantly connected," comments Scott Blumsack, SVP – global head of strategy at Monster.com in a recent interview with Innovation Enterprise. "Like the generation following them – Gen Z'ers – they bring a lot of value to potential employers."

But attracting and retaining a millennial workforce is not as straightforward as it sounds. According to CEB, the average millennial job candidate gets 12.5% more job offers than candidates from older generations. They also change jobs more frequently than any generation that came before them.

Therefore, knowing not only how to attract potential millennial employees but also being aware of how to retain them is of crucial importance. We look at five of the best ways a business can do exactly this.

Good benefits package and pay

According to Ameritas Insight, 33% of millennials in the workplace have debt of more than $35,000. The rising cost of living and student loans means individuals now tend to have more significant debt than workers who came before them which many will be paying off for most of their working life. Therefore, it's not a surprise that good benefits packages and a solid paycheck are key to securing millennials in your workplace.

One company, Makers, has found an interesting solution to arranging compensation for their employees in today's world: let them pick their own salaries.

Adele Barlow, head of Partnerships & Diversity Initiatives at Makers, told Innovation Enterprise: "When you put this onus onto the staff themselves, as long as you hire fairly sensible and responsible people, it's a fantastic way of empowering the team and showing them that you trust them.

"When people have to justify why they're paid what they're paid, it forces them to have more autonomy, which I think ultimately increases engagement," she added.

Greater work/life balance

A Generation Now survey which polled more than 1,500 young professionals across 84 firms found that "work/life balance" was the top priority for millennials.

While previous generations might have had the attitude that working overtime and weekends would progress their career and help them provide for their families, millennials are more inclined to want a life separate from work. They also want to have the option to work more flexibly, preferring to work from home more often, as well fitting their working life around personal or family needs.

The ideal working environment

Coming hand-in-hand with work/life balance is the desire for their workplace to be one millennial workers actually enjoy spending time in.

Rather than a stale office environment, millennials have a greater expectation that work spaces are an enjoyable, relaxed environment with a culture that suits them. This means companies should work on creating spaces that spur innovation, creativity and relaxation – think bean bags, early Friday finishes, free breakfasts – as well as making time for socialization, team building and mentoring.

According to Fortune research, millennials who say they have a great place to work are 20 times more likely to stay with the company than their peers who do not have that experience.

Give feedback

Regular updates and feedback on their performance at the company is key to happiness for many millennial employees. A Clutch survey indicated that 72% of millennials who consistently receive accurate feedback from their managers are satisfied with their workplace, compared with just 38% who feel fulfilled without receiving feedback.

Some would argue that this desire for instantaneous feedback is due to growing up in an internet-driven world, meaning that millennials are used to receiving immediate results. However, Eugene Seagriff, director of Go To Market Strategy at LG Electronics argues that they aren't unusual in this sense.

"People earlier in their careers seem to need more positive reinforcement and feedback, but I'm not sure that if that is actually unique to any particular generation," Seagriff notes.

Scott Blumsack agrees, noting that they "respond well to managers who support their ambitions and empower them to reach their goals". Blumsack adds that "because they value new devices, mobility and clear means of communication, they require a new style of management that includes direct communication that is visual and without frills or unnecessary details".

Company reputation and transparency

Company reputation and how seriously a business takes corporate social responsibility has never been more important to any generation.

" Millennials are drawn to companies with strong brand identities," notes Blumsack. "Determine what makes your brand unique and relevant, and make sure that messaging comes through when communicating. Being transparent and authentic in all forms of communication will connect you to millennials (and Gen Z'ers for that matter) without seeming too promotional."

"Millennials tend to be ambitious, motivated by principles and social engagement, and are attracted by companies that are cultural matches," adds Lucia Ponginebbi, VP, global R&D, snacks platform at PepsiCo.

Transparency in the company's mission is crucial in 2018, and there are a number of ways to do this, both big and small, from opening up meetings to everyone in the business to posting financial results openly for everyone in the company to view.

Tristan Thomas, head of marketing and community at London-based startup bank, Monzo, recommends practicing "radical transparency" by copying all emails into an email list.

Thomas says: "This breeds this incredible trust between people, because you can see that every single person makes mistakes and you can see that everyone is really human,"

Social media is probably one of the best and easiest ways promote your business to millennials in this light, as it provides the perfect platform to showcase your values and connect with potential employees.

Final thoughts

Overall, millennials are not that different from generations that came before, except that the availability of information through the internet has given them confidence and ambition that exceeds that of older workers at the same age.

Lucia Ponginebbi offers some closing advice: "Companies need to keep adapting in order to be a target employer, capable of attracting and retaining the best talent regardless of the generation with which they associate."

Learn more about effective methods of hiring and retaining employees and hear from Blumsack, Ponginebbi and Seagriff at Innovation Enterprise's Chief Strategy Officer Summit in New York on December 6–7, 2018. Check out the full agenda and book tickets HERE.

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