Millennials are transforming the corporate landscape. According to Deloitte, by 2025, this age-group (those born between 1982 and 2000), will make up three-quarters of the global workforce.
Compared with older generations, millennials, or Generation Y as they’re sometimes known, have starkly different expectations about work and money. They’re less motivated by the promise of high pay or promotion but instead want to actively manage their time and workload. They’re also more inclined to work collaboratively on meaningful projects that clearly benefit the business.
The mobility challenge
One of the most significant challenges companies face is that millennials do not feel the same loyalty towards their employer as older generations. Approximately one-third of Generation Y plan to stay with their present company for more than 5 years, with many intending to leave their job if they do not receive sufficient personal benefit or growth.
Keeping millennials engaged can be difficult for employers, especially those that continue to rely on conventional working practices. However, attracting and retaining the best millennial talent is crucial to the future success of your business. If you are to encourage innovation and maximise profit, it’s essential that you understand and embrace the group characteristics and values of millennial employees.
Work on your employer branding
When looking for a new role, millennials want to work for a company with a culture and values that closely align with their own.
Employer branding is increasingly recognised as a crucial component in ensuring that businesses engage and retain the best talent. To stand out as the ‘employer of choice’, you must emphasise your employment benefits through the creation of a powerful employer brand.
Millennials want to be proud of the company they work for, but above all, proud of its ethos. In terms of engaging existing staff, strong employer branding also helps to foster feelings of trust and corporate loyalty.
If attrition is an issue for your business, consider what is attracting young employees to your more successful competitors and make changes to your offering and how you communicate this.
Nowadays, many companies are reaching out to millennial candidates via social media to showcase their working culture. This tactic has more widely been employed to appeal to undergraduates or graduates, however platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn can also be used to capture the attention of older millennials.
Give frequent feedback
Millennials feedback and ongoing support and want to understand how their work affects the bigger picture. Many view the annual performance appraisal as outdated and unhelpful, and, instead, prefer real-time feedback.
For this age group, who have become accustomed to regular validation in the form of likes or retweets on social media, regular comments on their performance through effective verbal communication are understandably important.
Invest in training and progress
The promise of promotion and prestige is not the main driver for many millennials. Learning and development opportunities along with the chance to work on more challenging projects can be nearly as attractive as high salaries and impressive job titles. Whereas 20 years ago, having a ‘job for life’ was the ideal, for many younger employees, a straight-line career path simply doesn’t fit their long-term goals.
Despite this, millennials are in a greater hurry to advance than their older colleagues and welcome career progression and opportunities to learn new skills or work in different locations. Companies that invest in training, introduce coaching or mentoring programmes, or offer internal or external secondments will be highly regarded by this new generation of the workforce and better-able to retain millennial talent.
Flexible working is prized more than Generation Y than any other generation. Millennials want flexibility in terms of how and when they work and are less willing to adopt an exhausting, less productive, culture of long working hours and poor work-life balance.
The gig economy, if perhaps unfairly represented by companies like Deliveroo and Uber, is here to stay. Millennials don’t believe in 9-to-5 but instead, value the opportunity to work from home or a co-working space. In fact, many are prepared to accept a pay cut to secure a better work-life balance and enhance their health, well-being and happiness.
While some employers have so-far been reluctant to introduce flexible scheduling and remote working, many now accept the benefits of flexibility in terms of employee satisfaction and enhancing customer service. It is these businesses that will appeal to and retain the very best personnel, both from Generation Y and the wider talent pool.
Remember, money matters too
In contrast to the generations before them perhaps, millennials do not value high pay for the sake of it.
However, whilst they are perhaps not as financially driven as their older colleagues, money will of course always matter. Not only are the majority of young employees saddled with student debt, but rising house prices and economic uncertainty mean that they are not without financial worries. Employers must ensure that as well as rewarding their staff financially, they provide them with fulfilling work, offer frequent constructive feedback and provide a productive working environment.
Millennials are altruistic; up to 63% donate to charity. They’re engaged, socially aware and value firms with a social conscience that recognise the importance of giving back. Businesses that provide opportunities for their employees to get involved with good causes will stand out.
Innovation is crucial when connecting with millennials. Generation Y are digital enthusiasts; technology shapes how they communicate and interact with others and also influences their expectations of the workplace.
For some employers, embracing technology to enable remote working etc. still constitutes a leap of faith. It does, however, give workers a sense of control and can reduce workplace stress resulting in increased loyalty and commitment.
Importantly, young employees understand how technology and remote working can be beneficial for business. Because they are technologically-minded, millennials are also likely to be more closely aligned with a company’s core client base and can provide valuable insights into their wants, needs and expectations.
The challenge for progressive employers is less about managing millennial employees and more about leading a talented, diverse, multi-generational workforce. The changes championed by millennials are not too different from the aspirations of employees generally: workflow autonomy, a good work-life balance, meaningful work and encouragement from management.
By addressing the needs of this emergent, optimistic group, companies will provide solutions to workplace engagement issues that will benefit their entire workforce. Those firms that provide a rewarding, flexible working environment and offer plenty of opportunities for learning and development will ultimately succeed in the battle for millennial talent.
October 24th, 2017