When it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent, millennials are surely high on the target list for most organisations. Largely defined as those born between the early 1980s and late 1990s, this group of twenty- and thirty-somethings makes up a substantial proportion of the current and future workforce.
In many cases, these millennials have different expectations from their job compared with previous generations, which means companies hoping to attract this talent need to look at what they can offer them.
Location, location, location
A core element of the workplace for any millennial is flexible working opportunities. According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017, millennials believe that flexible working arrangements support better productivity and staff engagement, while enhancing well-being, health and happiness.
And it seems this push for flexibility is already having a profound impact on the office as we know it. Of the almost 8,000 millennials Deloitte questioned across 30 countries, 84pc said their employer offered some degree of flexible working, while 39pc said their organisation offered a highly flexible working environment.
Hot-desking and shared spaces with work benches, touchdown points or social hubs, where staff can work in a group or on their own in a more informal setting, are more attractive to millennials than old-fashioned rows of desks with fixed computers and telephones.
It appears those businesses that have made the effort to offer these kinds of work set-ups to staff will be reaping the rewards, as the study revealed that millennials in highly flexible organisations are much more loyal to their employers.
For those businesses that prefer to stick with a more traditional office layout, flexibility comes outside the building, by allowing staff to work from home or remotely.
The most forward-thinking firms will also start considering roles and functions in their organisation that could be appropriately served by employees working their own chosen hours – whether that’s compressed hours, weekend or night-time working, or term-time shifts – rather than the set 9-5, five-days-a-week pattern.
One of the perceptions about keeping millennials happy at work is that they need to be supplied with fun distractions to encourage their creative juices to flow. Free after-work drinks, table football, or slides rather than stairs to get to different floors of the office, have all been mooted as great ways of attracting talented people from younger generations.
Actually, the opposite is true. Research in 2016 from the Harvard Business Review revealed that creativity and fun are “extremely important” criteria to more baby boomers than millennials when applying for a job.
Millennials will be much more interested in seeing evidence of technology that enables collaboration and contact with colleagues from any location. So think less ping pong and beer, and more Slack and Trello.
Similarly, millennials will expect to use high-quality, reliable and covetable products at work to match their home devices. If your business provides its staff with a five-year-old mobile phone and clunky laptop, don’t be surprised to find these abandoned in a drawer as your millennial employees instead choose to bring in their own favoured, newer and higher performing smartphones and laptops to use at work.
It might sound obvious, but top-notch Wi-Fi is also a must for millennials, who will expect high-speed connectivity anywhere they choose to work, whether that’s at a set workstation, from a hot desk, outside in the grounds or in a meeting room.
Another core area for millennials is corporate social responsibility (CSR). According to a survey carried out by Cone Communications, 75pc of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a responsible company, compared with a 55pc average across all ages; while almost two-thirds would not accept a job from a company without strong CSR practices.
“Millennials will soon make up 50pc of the workforce and companies will have to radically evolve their value proposition to attract and retain this socially conscious group,” says Alison DaSilva, executive vice-president of CSR Research & Insights at Cone.
“Integrating a deeper sense of purpose and responsibility into the work experience will have a clear bottom line return for companies.”
This interest in CSR among millennials has a two-fold benefit for companies. First, they get to use any CSR initiatives as bait for attracting top talent; and second, they get an additional avenue for positive reputation-building. The Cone research found that 76pc of millennials want to share photos, videos and information about their employer’s CSR efforts over their personal social media channels, compared with an average of 52pc across all age groups.
“Millennials view social media as a place to curate and share content that reflects their values – and this generation is enthusiastic about showing how their work is making an impact in the world,” says Ms DaSilva
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