How to recruit and retain millennial employees

Here's how to get the best talent among the generation of job-hoppers.

Flexible working, a flat hierarchy, and a well-considered work/life balance – millennials’ priorities when it comes to work go way beyond the pay check.

And by 2020, this generation is going to make up half of the global workforce. So by not adopting new approaches in the workplace, businesses could be shooting themselves in the foot when trying to recruit and retain young talent.

Why recruitment processes should be the first thing to change

Growing businesses will be fully aware of the ups and down of recruiting and retaining talent at all levels. But as a lot of millennials see the working world differently, recruitment should be the first thing to be updated in order to get this generation through the door in the first place.

A couple of months ago professional services company, KPMG, did just that by shortening its entry level application process following feedback that it took too long to complete. It’s safe to assume that the majority of candidates applying were millennials, which means businesses really need to think about changing lengthy application processes if they’re trying to attract this generation.

If your application process is quick and engaging, you’re making the first hurdle much easier for this generation.

Retaining millennials

Millennials see the workplace differently to their parents and grandparents. Perceptions are changing, and some won’t accept the 9-5 working day, instead prioritising a work/life balance.

In fact, they’re likely to be a big factor in why flexible working is expected to be integrated into 70 per cent of organisations by 2020.

This is one of the biggest ways the workplace has evolved over the last few years, and businesses need to consider this way of working in order to retain this generation.

It may seem like a big step. But what these young people bring to the table – creativity and the tech-native attitude that anything is possible online – hugely outweighs the pitfalls associated with this cultural shift that they bring with them.

Working with a lot of busy media agencies who have realised this, I’ve seen flexible working integrated into teams with ease. It’s not only beneficial for recruiting millennials, either. Senior employees may have children, or a long commute, meaning that being able to move their hours around can be beneficial to them, too.

This is just one example of how a business can make changes in order to retain young talent, but may be the biggest.

Keeping this generation engaged and loyal to your business

It’s not just making adaptions to the structure of the working day that some millennials will really value. Increasingly they’re looking for roles that make them feel engaged and passionate about what they’re doing, in order for them to stick with a business long-term.

Statistics show that they are a generation of job hoppers. Dissatisfaction in a role, lacking career progression, difficulty maintaining a work/life balance, and being overworked and underpaid could be some of the reasons why millennials apparently go through more jobs than previous generations.

What this means for a growing business, is that retaining talent isn’t just about appreciating an employee when they’ve done a good job.

Now, it’s important to ensure progression paths are clear, and reward staff with extra holidays (helping with that all-important work/life balance) for example, and checking in with them regularly is more important than ever.

Ultimately, millennials are the future. This means that businesses have to understand and adapt to a new set of expectations in the workplace. But it’s also important to remember that these changes could benefit the wider workforce, too.

Improving the work/life balance of all employees in the form of flexible working, for example, will benefit the majority of staff. This generation don’t want to live to work, they very much want to work to live – and avoiding this fact is likely to have a negative impact on most businesses.

Peter Cobley is the managing director at recruitment consultancy, Found Us

Praseeda Nair

Kellen Rempel

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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