How to engage millennial talent (and what are millennials anyway?)

Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2017 by The MSS teamNo comments


The term millennials describe the demographic cohort born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, otherwise known as Generation Y or ‘Echo Boomers’. However, only 40% of millennials actually identify as a ‘millennial’, which is hardly surprisingly given the criticisms levelled at them: ‘lazy’, ‘selfish’, ‘arrogant’, ‘the Me Generation’.

Of course, we don’t believe these generalisations ourselves. What we do believe is that there are some highly talented ‘millennials’ out there, and understanding how to motivate and engage them is crucial for businesses who want to build a strong future and avoid a skills shortage.

Millennials are expected to make up an estimated 50% of the workforce by 2020, which means they’ll form the largest contingent of staff for many businesses. In such a candidate driven market, what can you do to engage them - aside from not calling them millennials? 

Optimise your online presence

While generation Xers might have only just got to grips with social media, millennials have grown up in the digital age and are accustomed to using mobile, SMS and the internet. Recent research found that millennials spend an average of 8 hours online, with 70% of using Facebook and 63% using YouTube. What’s more, 43% want brands to reach them via email. So building a strong social media presence on these channels and increasing the use of email to communicate is a good first step.

Make yourself more mobile

A staggering 90% of job seekers use their mobiles in their job search, so if you don’t have a mobile friendly website you’ll miss a chance to engage. Another study found that over half (60%) use their mobile to search for job opportunities, 54% use it to read company reviews and 52% use it to research salary information. Despite this, many businesses are extremely behind the times when it comes to mobile. If you want to keep candidates engaged, you need to make yourself accessible.

Emphasise development opportunities

A survey by Gallup found that 87% of millennials rate professional career growth and developmental opportunities as important to them in a job.  But despite this being one of the top three factors in retaining millennials, employers aren’t providing enough opportunities for growth. That may be the reason 46% of Millennials attribute lack of career growth as the reason for leaving their last job. (Glassdoor). Making efforts to discuss and promote growth ambitions with candidates is a great way to ensure you can match them with the right opportunities.

Build your brand

Employer branding is a key focus for many recruiters in 2017, largely because of the impact it has on attracting and engaging skilled talent.  The Gallup survey found that 75% of Millennials value the opinions family and friends when making career decisions. Reputation matters; ensuring your employees are happy and encouraging them to leave positive online reviews can be an extremely valuable way to engage millennial talent.

Cultivate your culture

With nearly 80% of Millennials looking for an employer that’s a good cultural fit and 64% caring about ‘perks and benefits’, it pays to invest in cultivating an enjoyable workplace culture and perks. Work-life balance is a big priority for millennials, so offering flexible working arrangements, for example, can make the role more appealing. Not only will it help you attract and retain new candidates, they’ll help you retain the skilled employees already working for you. 

While we acknowledge that all millennials have their individual motivations, the studies indicate some common themes in what drives them. Leveraging these in your hiring and staff development processes can dramatically increase your chances of engaging the right millennial talent and securing a competitive workforce for 2020 and beyond.

To find out how we can help you engage millennial talent, please get in touch today.


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