Employer Branding Talent Acquisition

How to Attract and Retain Top Millennial Talent

While millennials suffer an unfair reputation for laziness and entitlement at the hands of the press, employers generally recognize that the younger generation’s high level of education, technological savviness, and fresh vision can be key to a company’s success.

There are plenty of millennials out there: 16.2 million currently live in the UK, making them the largest generation in UK history. In 2015, millennials in the US surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce, with one-in-three workers aged between eighteen and thirty-four.

The difficulty, therefore, lies not with finding millennials, but, given their reputation for job-hopping, with attracting them to and keeping them in your organization. Of course, millennials are people too, and so a clear job-posting, competitive salary, inspiring mission statement, good work-place culture, and so on, are all still needed to secure the millennials you want.

But if you want the very top talent, you need to go beyond all the usual requirements. Here are five suggestions:

1. Use Millennials to Recruit Millennials

As David Williams, serial entrepreneur and author, puts it, “the adage that ‘birds of a feather flock together’ is especially true of millennials when it comes to career recruitment.”

Millennials, like most people, are looking for a workplace where they feel they belong and they are more likely to feel a sense of belonging if they are around people like them. You can bet that a millennial invited to apply for a job by another millennial is more likely to start the application process.

Moreover, millennials are more likely to know what makes other millennials tick – what offers will pique their interest and what will keep them at bay.

2. Maintain a Strong Digital Presence

Ron Piccolo, Cornell Professor of Management, explains that “Millennials expect digital relevancy.” The first thing a millennial will do before beginning an application is to google the company. If they find little information or an out-dated website with a poor lay-out they are going to be put-off immediately, afraid that the business is behind with the times.

As Piccolo says, it is vital to “invest not only in how you engage clients and consumers online but prospective employees as well.”

3. Offer a Flexible Schedule

Nancy Altobello, Vice Chair of Talent at EY, argues that for young professionals,  flexibility is almost as important as salary.

Flexibility here means the opportunity to work where they want and how they want – after all, no one likes to be micromanaged. Set them a target, a deadline, the essential constraints, and then leave them to it.

This might mean they work unconventional hours, out of the office, in jeans and a t-shirt, but so long as they are delivering a high-quality service there’s no reason for this to be an issue.

4. Be Transparent

Understanding a company’s vision and the direction in which they are heading is very important to millennials. They want to feel like the work they are doing is worthwhile, often not only for the company but for society at large, and that they are able to meaningfully participate in the company’s decision-making procedures.

Explain clearly where your company aims to be in a year, five years, a decade, and the trade-offs you may need to make in order to achieve these goals. There’s little point hiring a millennial only to lose them shortly afterward because they can’t get on board with the company’s philosophy.

5. Give Regular Feedback and Opportunities for Advancement

It may be common practice to offer employees annual or biannual reviews, but millennials are interested in much faster feedback and opportunities to develop.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. Millennials can often earn a higher salary, grow their career, get a change of scenery, and find a better cultural fit by job-hopping – if you want to retain the best, you have to show them regularly that there is a clear career path available for them within the company.

Major businesses have cottoned on. The American multinational technology company IBM, for instance, has abandoned the annual appraisal in favor of quarterly check-ins in which employees set and review their short-term goals.

About the author: Oliver Hurcum writes for Inspiring Interns, which specializes in sourcing candidates for internships and graduate jobs.

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