The term ‘millennials’ is a globally recognised label for professionals aged between 18-34 and one which forms the basis of entire talent acquisition strategies.
Must HR and business leaders adjust their overall hiring process and management styles in order to engage this enigmatic generation? SMEs seem to think so. The ability to recruit millennials is perceived as the key to successful business performance for SMEs in the UK according to research from Lloyds Bank which shows:-
- Over half (52%) of UK SMEs feel that the balance of power has shifted towards millennial candidates in the hiring process. As a result the majority are now reviewing their working practices.
- 8% believe the long term growth of their business is dependent on their ability to hire millennials. They recognise and welcome the potential of millennials to offer a different perspective, offer fresh ideas and bring innate digital skills to their businesses.
- In turn, that creates its own pressure with over three quarters (77%) of business owners feeling pressured into convincing millennial candidates to accept a position with their company.
- UK SMEs are now investing as much as 15% of their turnover in order to attract millennial talent.
The survey also suggests that the expectations of millennials differ from other generations in their expectations of their employer and are willing to change jobs more frequently if their aspirations aren’t met.
An alternative view
It is possible that the ‘branding’ of a generation is obscuring the overall crisis in talent acquisition? Flexible working hours and ongoing career development were identified in the Lloyds Bank survey as issues important to millennials but concern workers of all generations.
An article in the Economist suggests that these generational boundaries are more blurred than the headlines indicate, emphasising the need for recognising individual performance and providing clear career development opportunities for all. Generational ‘commonalities’, it believes, will always outrank generational differences. Furthermore, new research released this week by the Pew Centre in the US found that millennials themselves are reluctant to be labelled.
Getting the balance right
That said, the needs and support of younger people will inevitably be different to older workers with more experience. A recent CIPD report entitled Developing The Next Generation explores the ramifications of 300,000 young people entering the workforce every year, The report cautions that ‘unchallenged stereotypes’ or generalisations about supporting young workers may result in ‘ineffective development initiatives’. Its recommendations include:-
- Focus on retaining rather than hiring talent as this will boost business performance in the long term.
- Take into account the preferences of individuals, offering ‘bite sized’ learning, on the job training and constructive feedback for young people, while ensuring that all adjustments fit with future hiring needs.
- Recognise and enhance the strengths of young people, while enabling them to develop more skills in emotional intelligence and self-awareness.
Investment in young talent will improve engagement while increasing efficiency and productivity, according to the CIPD, but successfully hiring these candidates remains a challenge for employers.
We recommend noting the following points when defining a successful talent acquisition and retention strategy:-
Respond to the need for collaborative technology : An additional CIPD reports highlights the need for ‘collaborative technology’ in the workplace, particularly for young people who have grown up in a digital age and expect constant connectivity. Notably, losing access to social media was seen by over half of those surveyed as the biggest ‘inhibitor’ to collaboration.
Overcome the zero hours hurdle : Official figures released by the Office of National Statistics reveals that just over a third of all employees on zero hours contracts are aged between 16-24. The debate over zero hours contracts will continue but to succeed in attracting young workers, employers must seek alternative employment strategies. For companies concerned about employer brand it is worth noting that 45% of people regard zero hours contracts as exploitative.
Recognise your talent, regardless of age : Create an environment which recognises individual achievements and rewards all employees to enhance engagement and positively impact turnover. Don’t buy into the myth that young people are lazier than their older colleagues. Latest research suggests that16-24 year olds work harder than their co-workers.
Don’t discount older workers : By 2022 – that’s only 7 years away – the UK will have 700,000 fewer people between the ages of 16 to 49 and 3.7 million more between the ages of 50 and 65. HR and business leaders must prepare to manage a multi-generational workforce as Baby Boomers continue to work past traditional retirement age and Generation Z makes its debut in the workforce. Your talent acquisition strategy must acknowledge the reality of the candidate pool.
Creating a culture that embraces the generational differences and similarities within a collaborative environment is a priority for UK and global employers as the skills shortage continues to tighten its grip.
Take advantage of technology to improve your hiring process and understand your candidate pool. Advorto’s sophisticated recruitment software is used by global organisations to hire better people faster.
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LinkedIn & The Generation Gap : How To Attract Generation Y
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