It’s no secret that effective employee engagement helps to build company culture, boost productivity and aids retention. According to employee engagement guru David McLeod, engaged employees deliver 50 per cent higher customer loyalty, 50 per cent higher sales, and 27 per cent higher profits – all figures any HR professional would find hard to ignore. But where HR as a profession has made significant headway in recent years in terms of engagement, there is a group that is proving more challenging – Millennials. Are you up to the challenge? 

According to a recent survey by EY, 36% of managers find those born after 1982, or millennials, difficult to work with. Furthermore, a huge three quarters of managers surveyed agree that managing multi- generational teams is a challenge.                  

Meanwhile, Deloitte’s Millennial Survey 2015 has found that almost four in five (79%) UK millennials do not feel that their current organisations are making “full use” of the skills they have to offer. The research also found that 43% of millennials believe they will have to work elsewhere in order to gain the skills and experience they need to fully meet their career ambitions. So where is the disconnect? And how can we reach out to attract, retain and manage the talent of tomorrow? 

According to research by the iOpener Institute for People & Performance, ‘Generation Y’ workers (defined as those born in the 1980s and 1990s) represent a ‘ticking time-bomb of potential cost and disruption’ to employers. It seems that new-found job mobility amongst the Millennial Generation is having an adverse effect on the retention of bright young stars.

In response, we must recognise, respect and respond to the way that communications are changing. The fragmentation of the media means that digital-natives digest and interpret messages and build relationships differently from their predecessors. Some have suggested that millennials simply desire constant positive feedback – to mirror the immediacy and tone of online platforms – however we must not underestimate their motives and ambitions.

In her 2006 book, Generation Me, Jean Twenge discusses the confidence and assertiveness that differentiates the latest generation of jobseekers from their predecessors. The ‘job for life’ ethos is well and truly a thing of the past. So it seems that jobseekers are looking for challenges, fulfilment and the right culture.  

Discerning young professionals are looking for more than a regular pay-packet – and employees are simply not prepared to stay in jobs that make them unhappy. Employee satisfaction is built around a strong employer brand, and forward thinking HR departments are consistently building on the reputation of their companies to encourage loyalty amongst their people. In order to establish solid talent pipelines, organisations need to invest in the managers of the future. But it seems that economics alone can no longer guarantee a brand’s survival – we need to offer more if we are to future-proof our organisations. 

Interaction has become much easier for Millennials, with online and social network infrastructures facilitating such communications. A company’s reputation among young professionals is heavily influenced by these conversations because they turn to these channels to find out about job opportunities and learn about the companies that offer them. So, for an employer to attract millennials, its employees must be spreading the good word about their high levels of job fulfilment and enjoyable working environment.

HR departments must ensure that every employee touchpoint – both on and off-line – delivers the same positive messages if they are to stand any chance of holding on to fresh recruits who may otherwise see their tenure as a stepping stone to better prospects. Office environment, working relationships, location, atmosphere, décor, dress code, training and development opportunities and other perks are all important factors. 

Millennial talent is unparalleled in its innate social, technical and communication abilities. HR innovators must react to the needs of today’s professionals by taking a fresh approach to employee relations – by building communities, engaging in two-way conversations and constructing and maintaining a solid employer brand on an ever increasing array of platforms.

Although there is no substitute for experience, innovation often comes from the bottom up. And by encouraging younger employees to share the innate social, technical and communication abilities that they are likely to possess, we can help drive our organisations into the future and ensure on-going growth and profitability.    

It is essential that organisations encourage environments that are designed to retain talent from the younger generation. After all, as our millennials organically progress to more senior positions, only those which hone a culture which encourages retention of star talent will thrive – Is your brand doing enough to attract and retain the high achievers of tomorrow?         

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