Here They Come…the Millennials!

July 27, 2016

Millennials. The hottest topic in the recruitment and retention field – and there is good reason. Our workforce is rapidly changing and Millennials, those aged 15 – 35, are surpassing the GenX-ers as the largest labor group. In fact, it is projected that by 2020, Millennials will make up more than 70% of the entire workforce (Pew Research). This marks a major generational shift in the labor pool and is one that companies, both large and small, need to address now in order to attract and retain this valuable pool of talent. I recently was asked to present to the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Technology Council (www.ct.org) on this hot topic and the questions, comments and reception were tremendous.

Millennials are seeking certain attributes in an organization that include a technology-rich environment (latest and greatest tools and challenges), a diverse set of responsibilities and a collaborative and relaxed work environment. In addition, they are targeting companies that offer strong community involvement, less bureaucracy and the flexibility that allows more work-life balance.

So what about pay and benefits – you know, all the things Baby Boomers and GenX candidates were looking for? The reality is that only 73% of Millennials rank pay and benefits high on their focus list when evaluating an opportunity versus Boomers and GenXers who rank it 97% and 98% respectively. The same, and greater, disparity can be seen when questioned about training and development, corporate culture and work environment where the Millennials place the highest value – in the ninety percentile range.

Companies, both large and small, need to adjust their hiring and employment practices to include more programs for development and mentorship, a culture of inclusion and constant feedback, recognition that work can be accomplished in remote situations and a change in time off practices to allow for a stronger work-life balance. These changes do not come without their own set of challenges however and the savvy HR professional will be creative in their approach to embracing Millennials while retaining their current workforce.

Millennials are unique in the workforce today. They have been raised in a culture of instant information and instant feedback. Conversation is handled via abbreviated texts. Everyone is successful and rewarded. Ok, so this is a generalization but for the most part true. Companies will need to formulate review processes that incorporate a 360 feel, if not practice, supervisors will need to make ‘face time’ a reality – perhaps a walk and talk –inclusion in the business goals and getting your company and employees involved in community activities are a must. There are a number of budget-friendly options for those willing to implement change.

Companies who do not immediately adjust their engagement strategies geared to embrace Millennials will not retain and capitalize on the talent and energy of the Millennial workforce.

For assistance in defining a progressive Millennial engagement plan please feel free to contact me at bgilbert@kestrelassoc.com