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The Rise of the Millennials: Part Two

In the first of this two-part feature, we explored the who’s and what’s of the millennial generation. We established who they are, what has influenced them, and what (generalised) qualities you can expect of a millennial candidate. Now it’s time to examine the needs and attributes of potential millennial employees during the recruitment process in order to understand what it takes to attract, engage and retain this fiercely reactive and increasingly significant generation of Talent.

What are they looking for when job hunting?

Money isn’t the biggest draw

Now it’s down to the nitty-gritty; how do you get Gen Y’ers on board in the first place? It’s important to remember that millennials place greater emphasis on the enjoyment and satisfaction gained from a job rather than the extent of the salary. That’s not to say that a competitive base salary isn’t important, but keep in mind when writing recruitment marketing material and listing vacancies that putting an emphasis on the monetary perks of the role won’t necessarily secure you the Talent you’re trying to attract. Instead, focus on highlighting the dynamic and challenging aspects of the position you have to offer, as well as offering non-cash company benefits – reduced gym memberships and regular social events and activities are huge pull factors as millennials view their jobs and potential careers as part of a wider lifestyle choice.

A flexible organisation

Gen Y candidates are less attracted to corporate, structured environments, but are still concerned with job stability. Millennials want to be a part of a community, and want to join an organisation that actively embraces an open and progressive culture. The opportunity to work flexibly is very much a Gen Y focus, be that off-site or with the option to work flexible hours, and so being an employer that acknowledges the importance of work-life balance will have a definite impact on the number of millennials you can attract.

Scope for progression

Millennial candidates are far more likely to apply to an organisation that can offer them potential promotional opportunities and scope for personal growth. Small and rapidly growing businesses have the chance to incentivise and offer such progression based on their experience and understanding of the business rather than pre-established programs of development. SME’s can also demonstrate to Gen Y candidates just how reactive the business can be to their individual contributions; the harder they work, the more business is generated, and the more the business can grow impacts the more that the individual can progress. This method of promoting internally allows the likes of Gen Y employees to have more control over their future as roles can be defined and shaped around a mixture of the needs of the business and the skills demonstrated by the individual.

What do they expect from the workplace?

Managers as mentors

Generation Y are not as receptive to traditional leadership methods; they respond more positively to coaching and mentoring, driven by their desire to learn. There is also a level of co-dependence placed on managers by Gen Y employees as they seek regular feedback in order to remain self-assured in their abilities and engaged with what they are doing. They want their line manager to be more than just their superior; they place great emphasis on work relations, and want leaders who they can converse with about both professional and personal matters in the same capacity as they would a friend.

Informal culture

Millennials have a noticeably more lax approach to conventional working formalities. This can start at the interview process, where they might be more expectant of a discussion as opposed to a and extends to the in-house dress code and overall sociability of the organisation. The development of tech is also making it harder to distinguish where social lives end and work begins for more and more of the labour market, and so the integration of personal devices and social media is very much expected. Millennials are also less accustomed to wearing business attire, a habit likely to have stemmed from their extended years in education where they have had the opportunity to express their individuality through wearing casual clothes. This contemporary approach to dressing aligns with their overall expectations that the workplace should be a fun and flexible environment.

Flexible working

Gen Y’ers respond best when presented with clear and constructive targets to work towards, but equally want flexibility in the way in which they approach their workload. And although at first glance this may sound demanding, it actually works out to be rather simple; allow them the chance to tackle their work and manage their own workloads in a way that best suits them, and you will see the best results. As long as the work is done by the deadline and delivered professionally to a high standard of quality, demonstrating that your business is less concerned with the how’s as it is with the results will put you top of the employer pecking order.

What will it take to keep a Millennial in your business?

Define your Employer Brand and make your business aspirations clear

Gen Y have a new, contemporary approach to their careers and the world of work – they are very at ease with the notion that most jobs are no longer a ‘job for life’. They are distinctly more entrepreneurial than previous generations, displaying a greater desire and ability to set up their own business. This is not motivated by the prospect of earning extensively, but rather investing in an opportunity or idea that they are genuinely impassioned about and a self-made work culture that suits their needs. Their thirst for knowledge drives their desire to progress and subsequently, their tolerance for unchallenging or repetitively mundane workloads is very low; unlike previous generations, millennials are more than prepared to uproot and move from position to position if they are not completely satisfied as they have been personally and academically conditioned not to settle for anything less than the best.

Many businesses would do well to keep this in mind when looking to hire millennials. Gen Y are loyal to brands, not companies. They buy in to, go back to and invest in brands and ideas that they trust and that encompass a set of values or practices which they too share. This allegiance to brands is applicable to millennials as both consumers and employees. They have been raised alongside a business landscape where organisations with targeted branding and sustainably positive customer and employer experiences have the power to monopolise an entire market, so never has there been a better time to really make Employer Brand a strategic company focus.

Make promises – and keep them

It’s easy to get carried away when promoting new and (to you) exciting opportunities within your business, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes, the expectations vs reality of working for your company don’t always align. A business that fails to promote and/or act on the promises made in the initial stages of the hiring process will result in employees becoming disillusioned; this is particularly true of millennials, who respond best when immersed in an environment that is able to demonstrate how their work is having an impact and are recognised for it. If as an employer you claim to encourage a fun and relaxed culture with a whole host of benefits and incentives on offer to prospective employees, make sure you deliver – it’s never a good sign when new hires have to chase you up on those promises. Hiring graduates and millennials is competitive, and it can be tempting to stick a whole hoard of bells and whistles on to recruitment marketing material to draw in a substantial pool of candidates. Instead of having to make working for your company sound better than it actually is, make it a priority to understand how your current employees feel about their personal experiences and use their feedback to make constructive changes to your company’s EVP.

Recognition doesn’t cost a penny

Never underestimate the power of positive feedback. Yes, Gen Y employees do crave recognition, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. More and more research is starting to indicate that regularly recognising the efforts and contributions of all employees, whether they are just entering into the job market or have been working for 30 years, is the single most powerful motivational force. Talented Gen Y employees who work hard and are good at what they do will often think they are just one of many – and that recognition makes them sit up and realise that perhaps they are doing a notably better job than they had thought, aiding engagement and encouraging productivity.

To conclude

Generational conflict is nothing new, nor is it something that is likely to change. But like it or not, the millennial generation will inevitably make up the leaders, influencers and labour market of the future. As many millennial candidates begin to embark on their working journeys and enter into their first or second jobs, now is the time to integrate them into the work place to help merge their approach and working values with the ones already established within your business to maximise the efforts and ability of this changing work force.