How to Maximize Millennial Potential
By Jorge Pérez Izquierdo, Senior Vice President, Manpower North America
Apple, Facebook, and Google recently were named the top three global innovators (Fast Company), and also report excellent financial performance. What do these businesses have in common? All three employ unusually youthful workforces—the average Apple employee is age 33, Facebook 26, and Google 31. In a world where creative, innovative, and technologically savvy businesses lead growth, employers that succeed in the future will be those that proactively identify, attract, and retain Millennials. After all, this young generation lives and breathes social media and new technologies and are aware of the “next big thing” far in advance of their older counterparts.
In the U.S., high youth unemployment is a societal challenge. Despite this high unemployment, businesses are struggling to fill vacancies with appropriately skilled employees. According to ManpowerGroup’s eighth annual Talent Shortage survey, 39 percent of U.S. employers are having difficulty finding staff with the right skills. Young people are a vital talent pool, and it’s imperative that employers have a strategic approach to identify, attract, and retain Millennials for business growth.
Recognize the importance of connecting with Millennials and the value they bring to your business as consumers, influencers, and innovators. There is a perception that available workers, especially youth, do not possess the key skills and experience employers need, but this does not mean they should be disregarded as viable talent. Employers need to adjust their mind-sets to recognize youth potential and adopt the Teachable Fit model to bridge the mismatch between available skills and required, on-the-job skills. Millennials may not tick every box, have years of specific experience, or the exact qualifications a business requires, but they may possess the passion, creativity, and technical know-how, unleashed through training and development, to bring huge value to the organization.
Collaborate to build a sustainable pipeline of Millennial talent. Partner with workforce solutions providers to help maximize Millennial talent and develop relationships with government, educational institutions, and communities to encourage skills development and ensure a balanced supply of young recruits for the future.
Nurture your employer brand. In the Human Age, Millennials increasingly look for evidence of an employer’s commitment to training and development, as well as expecting a vibrant work environment, travel opportunities, and the chance to make positive contributions to business, the environment, and the wider community. Consider how Millennials interact with your brand—the way your business presents its workforce culture on and off line may make the difference between a young worker choosing you or your competitor.
Consider non-traditional recruitment methods. Engage with potential young candidates by using the technology they thrive in—namely social media. A workforce recruitment strategy needs to involve more than simply posting jobs online. A successful strategy will stimulate relevant online conversation, share useful content, and maintain a presence across multiple digital platforms to engage and connect with Millennials and build brand exposure and loyalty.
For Millennials, engagement means more than the offer of a competitive benefits package. They expect training and development tailored to their needs and delivered through the channels they prefer. Gamified development programs, digital rewards, and other cutting-edge digital tools are proving to be highly effective employee engagement methods with the Millennial demographic.
Be flexible. Lines between Millennials’ work and home lives are far more blurred than those of their Baby Boomer parents. Millennials bring value from their outside lives into the workplace, but they expect the same flexibility from their employers. Business is no longer 9-to-5, and employers ideally should offer flexible working hours and remote working options. Young people look for work opportunities with the option to “plug-in-and-play” at a time and location to suit them.
Nurture your talent. The intern of today may be the CEO of tomorrow. Millennials need room to grow and thrive, so give them the relevant and personalized training they need. Listen to what they want and see how you can accommodate them. Employers should consider changing their style from “command” to “coach” as Millennials also benefit tremendously from mentoring and access to senior leadership.
It is important for employers to bear in mind during their period of investment in Millennial employees that payoff will come in the form of loyal, motivated talent with the passion, creativity, and technical know-how to innovate and identify new routes to drive business success. Millennials are our future and the businesses that engage with them today could be the Apple, Facebook, and Google of tomorrow.
Jorge Pérez Izquierdo is senior vice president of Manpower North America. In this role, he oversees ManpowerGroup’s staffing business in the United States and Canada. For more information, visit http://www.manpowergroup.com.