Talented twentysomethings are hard to hire and retain, but deep skills and help reaching new markets are ample reward.
They have never bought vinyl nor had a roll of holiday snaps developed and would think it crazy to call a group of friends to arrange a night out when a post on Facebook will suffice. The so-called 'new millennial' generation, born after 1980, thinks and acts very differently from the baby boomer and new generation which preceded it.
Next year, a third of the work force will be new millennials and to attract and retain the best young talent, organisations are having to rethink strategies and structures. Without looking at how twenty-somethings can be hired and retained, organisations will find they could miss out on an entire generation of the brightest talent.
Additionally organisations could also miss out on their insider knowledge of how to sell goods and services to like-minded millennial customers. Millennials think, work, socialise and consume in a completely new way and so organisations need to attract those in their 20s to tap in to this new wave of thinking or be left behind. It’s important to ensure as a business you are attractive to new millennials.
The millennial generation is hugely beneficial. They're what many refer to as 'double deep' and so have a passion for something like finance, HR or marketing but are also very gifted with technology. It means they are more versatile and potentially more productive than some older employees. The real benefit, which many organisations are not fully realising, is if you can attract millennials they can help you market to fellow millennial customers.
Attract and retain
Millennials are more self-centred when it comes to their career and so today's executives need to understand the notion of having a job for life or feeling lucky to be employed is now consigned to history. Estimates suggest millennials are unlikely to spend more than two years in a position and are likely to have 10-14 jobs by the time they reach 38. Nearly three in four expect their job to provide opportunities for travel.
Organisations need to take a look at what motivates millennials and then structure themselves to be appealing.
The brightest are likely to have several job offers because the recruitment market is buoyant for the best talent. Some companies have gone a bit far with some frills, like basket ball hoops and free laundry, but travel and flexibility are big motivators. It's great if you have offices abroad which new recruits can expect to be posted to as part of their career path. Also, if you don't allow social collaboration at work, internally and externally, then you can pretty much forget about attracting new millennials and their extensive online social networks.
There is also a blurring between work and home. New millennials expect to be allowed to work from where is most appropriate and so an organisation has to invest in the IT systems to allow employees to be productive on the move and at home. They can believe that if they've done five days work in the first half of the week, by working overnight or through a weekend, then the rest of the week is theirs to take off, so you can't be too rigid with a nine to five regime. That's why some companies are considering unlimited holidays, along the lines of once you've done a year's worth of work, you can go travelling for a month or two. For others, who think that approach too extreme, maybe just a more flexible approach to the working week is all that is needed to be attractive.
Although it is hard to convince the best talent that your organisation is their best bet, you need to pay particular attention to outlining the potential career path and development programmes on offer. Social media can help here. Some forward thinking organisations are already launching Facebook pages where graduate trainees can share their experiences of working within their organisation.
Loyalty may be missing
Although organisations need to become more flexible and reorganise around new millennials' expected career paths, it would be remiss to think this effort will be repaid by undying loyalty. Most new millennial employees will not expect to stay within an organisation longer than two or three years. Hence, organisations are quite right to ask whether the reorganisation effort is actually worth it. However, it is, because of the many advantages millennials bring, even if they depart comparatively soon afterwards.
Millennials can be more loyal to brands they like than their employer – they're effectively fans of their own brand. If the organisation can offer them opportunities to add to their brand, they may stay much longer than you, and they, anticipated.
The key point, for those who think it's too much effort, is asking yourself where will your next generation of managers come from if you don't engage with millennials now? There's also the point that, while they're with you, millennials have lots to offer. The main thing a lot of organisations forget is that if they're hoping to sell to new millennials, the best people to advise are new millennials themselves, plus they bring thousands of 'friends' with them on the journey.
The advice millennials pass on will vary from one employer to another and will depend on each sector's unique characteristics. Questioning why an organisation insists on asking customers to tap out credit card details for each purchase instead of accepting easier online payment methods, which millennials favour. Another major point is embedding social media into everything an organisation does, in areas like supply chain and customer services, not just in the marketing department.
Without attracting millennials, organisations run the risk of remaining in the dark while rivals take strides forward at their expense. It will take some reorganisation and possibly cultural change, but organisations which take these extra steps will be repaid by a bright, young, productive work force. They might not stay in the same position as long as previous incumbents but, while there, they will almost certainly make a major positive contribution.
Liz Benison is managing director for CSC's UK and Ireland region.