“The hits just keep on coming” (a line from another one of my favorite movies). I met a gentleman on my flight home last night that is in his mid-40’s and is a successful small business owner. As the conversation progressed and we learned more about what each other does for a living, we eventually began discussing his thoughts on recruiting and retaining millennial talent.
He expressed a lot of the same frustrations that I’ve heard from other senior leadership and hiring managers from different brands and agencies. He shared how tough it is to identify talent that he believes is “ready for the pros”, and even tougher to retain quality talent. The good news is that this gentleman has taken some necessary steps and adjustments to figure it out and make it work and has a thriving business to show for it.
There are clearly some challenges for employers in recruiting and retaining quality talent that is unique to the millennial generation. Adjustments need to be made across the board because we all need each other’s contributions to grow and be successful. No organization will be able to sustain over time without recruiting and retaining new young talent. And not every millennial is cut out to be an entrepreneur and work for themselves; someone has to work for the existing corporations and businesses for our economy to thrive.
I hear many hiring managers express their frustrations about how ill prepared and unprofessional many millennials are. I hear many millennials express their frustrations about how archaic, irrelevant and oppressive the expectations are of senior leadership and hiring managers. I hear a lot about how things “should” be but are not.
One of my favorite quotes is “Life is not how it should be, it’s how it is”. We should all keep that in mind.
5 Tips employers should keep in mind for recruiting & retaining millennial talent:
1. Don’t overlook or accept unacceptable behavior during the interview. If the candidate displays behavior or conduct that you believe lacks professionalism or appropriateness, do not overlook it and hire them anyway. This sends the message that the behavior is okay and will be accepted at the organization. Manage expectations from the very beginning and don’t compromise standards in areas where you are not willing to be flexible.
2. Diversify your candidate pipeline. If you keep looking in the same places you are likely to continue to get the same results. That’s great if you are batting a thousand. If not, expand your search options. There are a number of young professional groups, organizations, fraternities and sororities to explore and build relationships with. I know of organizations with Diversity & Inclusion programs that struggled with finding diverse candidates but have never had a relationship with a single HBCU. Expand your reach and diversify your candidate pipeline.
3. Offer relevant incentives. This will vary by the type of organization you run, but there are universal incentives that appeal to this generation that are different from generations past. Take the time to understand what drives and motivates your millennial team members and develop incentive programs based on those drivers.
4. Don’t put them in a box. Fuel their entrepreneurial spirit and allow them to feel a sense of ownership. This does not mean just give them the keys to the shop and walk away, but empower them through a sense of ownership and control of their own destiny within the organization. Take time to help them understand how the organization profits and what they can do to directly contribute to that profit. But don’t stop there, based on the incentive plan suggested above, show them how what they do can allow them to share in the profits.
5. Address the need for inclusion and involvement. I cannot emphasize this point enough. This generation wants to be involved in the workplace as well as in the community. Hear them out and take their recommendations seriously and help them understand how what they would like to see done in the company as well as the greater community can be done within the parameters of the company mission and values. Allow them to help drive how the company makes money and makes a difference.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”