We are all no doubt familiar with the terms Generation X, Generation Y, Baby Boomers; all labels for various groups of people born at particular periods in time. These are the people that apparently define a generation. And now we have a new label for a new generation: Millennials.
Who Are The Millennials?
The Millennials are those people who are going to be reaching young adulthood right about now, in the early 21st century. For those born in and around the 1990s, they are also typically the people we here at E4S are dealing with; suggesting and advertising employment opportunities of all different types. Some are students, looking for part time evening and weekend work or seasonal summer jobs. Some are school leavers, perhaps considering the route of Apprenticeships. Others are students and graduates looking for internships, work experience or full time graduate careers.
These are also the people who have grown up with the internet, smartphones, social media. Their lives are more flexible and they are looking for that same flexibility, work life balance and job satisfaction in the workplace. Many Millennials tend to value this above financial reward. As author of Generation X, Douglas Coupland says in this article, the internet, cloud-based technologies and faster download speeds mean the traditional office routine is coming to an end. And rather than mourning that end, Millennials embrace this flexibility and, indeed, are looking for it.
Whatever their purpose of looking for work, the Millennials are a generation of young people who could change the face of your workplace. If you are looking to recruit young people to your workplace then this article could give you some ideas about how to attract and retain that young talent. As an employer, it might even force you to have a look at your company routine and culture and ask yourself whether it is time to make a few changes. After all, it is predicted that these are the people who are going to make up around three quarters of the world’s workforce by 2025 so employers need to be ready to adapt to that.
What Makes Millennials Different?
No More Job For Life
I have written in the past about how young people no longer assume they will have a job for life and this is what makes Millennials different to previous generations. The ‘job for life’ scenario is no longer a notion that motivates young people. Amongst many other factors, they are looking for flexibility and a feeling of freedom. They don’t fear moving on to pastures new if they feel there are more opportunities elsewhere.
Earlier generations have valued the job for life and the set routine of office hours and weekends off (obviously, this depends on the nature of your company). They have valued formal dress codes and formal ways of addressing superiors at work and the hierarchical structure of the workplace.
They expected to work for a few years in one role before earning the right for a possible promotion.
In contrast to this, Millennials are attracted to the workplace where those routines and formalities are relaxed in favour of a more informal set up. They are looking for innovation in the workplace, not just in the products and services offered by the company but also in their daily work life. You only need to take a look at the various lists out there of ‘The Top X Number Of Companies To Work For,’ and these are often the types of company who have embraced this innovation.
These are the types of companies that Millennials are flocking to, not necessarily because of the financial rewards but because of the different ways that these companies communicate how they value their employees. It could be something as simple as dressing down in the office rather than requiring business wear but many of the top companies to work for offer a whole range of perks and benefits that attract young people.
What Could This Mean For Your Company?
Recruitment and consequent staff retention are issues for all companies and many of the articles in the E4S Recruiter blog are centred around this. Companies which embrace the fact that young people – Millennials – have these different expectations have a much better chance of attracting – and keeping – young talent within the firm. Of course, this then contributes to the future success of your company.
SMEs and start-ups can also take advantage of this, too, because they arguably have more scope for making any changes they think are necessary. It could be easier to communicate with a smaller team and discuss expectations. As I said above, millennials are looking for more than just financial reward from their place of work.
Offering small perks to employees can go a long way in attracting and retaining millennials for the benefit of the company. Communicating with young staff about training prospects and opportunities for promotion, or working in different departments within the firm so that they gain a better overall picture of how your company functions. Engaging your new young staff right from the beginning so that they valued immediately rather than feeling like the new kid on the block. These are all ways of giving your company a stronger chance of both attracting and retaining young talent.
It could be that in some cases, when it comes to working with Millennials, established, larger companies that have had rigid systems in place for a number of years might find more difficulty in pinpointing what needs to change and then implementing any changes that have been decided. Whatever the case, making changes, however small, to your company – and communicating these changes – can go a long way to attracting new young recruits.
Communicate Your Company Values
As well as communicating the benefits of working for your company to Millennials, this young group of people are also keen to work for companies with strong values. Communicate these effectively and you could soon have school leavers, students and graduates applying for roles with you in higher numbers.
Of course, lots of young people will want to progress through your company and eventually take on leadership roles and management positions. Every company needs those types of people to help drive success. But what also drives success for Millennials is showing them that they are valued as an individual within the company.
Not everyone wants to take on management positions. Many Millennials feel valued within a company if they are trained well in their role through in house training and outside courses. Rather than promotion, some young people want to get a picture of where they fit into the whole company and so value working in other departments as well as their specialist area.
For some, offering Apprenticeship programmes could be a good way of doing this. The training is structured and your young staff gain nationally recognised qualifications whilst getting an overview of how your workplace functions and where they fit into that. Once this has been ascertained, the Apprentice, perhaps with guidance from you, can decide which fields suit them and they can continue their Apprenticeship at the next level with a focus on that specialist area.
Millennials are looking for their purpose in the workplace and want to be passionate about what they do so finding the right role for them could be really beneficial for your firm. As well as Apprenticeships, helping Millennials find this purpose could be done through different project work, graduate programmes and opportunities to work in different areas of the company.
Be Accessible To Your Younger Staff
Millennials have not grown up in a world of hierarchies where those senior to them have been ‘untouchable’ in a distant office. They are familiar with teachers, lecturers, online course leaders being accessible to them either in person or online. The online world and social media means young people are familiar with the immediacy of getting information and also feedback.
When they enter the workplace, they will be expecting a similar scenario where they are not given information on a need to know basis but rather, they need to feel they can ask questions and learn. Regular feedback and encouragement on performance in the workplace from those in more senior positions is valued by Millennials.
Some workplace leaders have addressed this by not having a separate office to the rest of their staff. Some will sit amongst staff so that they are accessible rather than having closed office doors. Millennials are looking for mentors rather than managers who instruct them on what to do.
Flexible Working Hours
Have you got the type of company where you are in a position to offer flexible working? Millennials look for flexibility rather than rigidity in their working life. This could be flexi time, working from home on given days or time off for sports events. IT innovations mean there is no longer a need for all staff to be in the workplace form 9-5. Of course, as an employer, it is still beneficial for you to make sure your staff are taking their holiday entitlement and other breaks, too.
What Do You Get In Return?
The UK’s young people – the Millennials – have so much to offer the workplaces of today and exciting times could lie ahead. Millennials might lack traditional workplace experience but when you take on young talent, you are employing someone who is naturally tech savvy. Some will have particular IT skills but all are products of a fast changing, technological world.
Innovation and change is a part of their daily life and is embraced; it is not something that is feared. You only need to think about how often phone apps and social media sites are updating and changing their layout and capabilities. Young people take these constant changes – indeed, some expect constant change – in their stride rather than complaining about the fact that they’ve only just familiarised themselves with a particular feature and now it’s changed or disappeared altogether.
As well as school and university qualifications and other transferable skills that can be brought to the workplace by young people, networking and making useful connections at different levels can be vital to the future success of any business. Millennials have grown up in a world of networking. These are the young people who will learn essential skills quickly, who will tackle problems from a different angle and bring fresh ideas to the table. They are the people who will contribute to driving your business forward in the future and who will, eventually, change the way in which businesses operate.
There are lots of young people currently looking for employment and work experience opportunities all over the Uk and beyond. Tap into this young talent by placing an ad with E4S.