In with the new: attracting next-gen leaders


Attracting and retaining the next generation of leaders is an increasing challenge not limited to any one sector, due largely to Gen Y (aka millennials) having different expectations for their careers.

Job loyalty is far less of a consideration for young workers, making it difficult to retain talent. In fact, 50% of Gen Y believe every job is temporary, according to research from ManpowerGroup.

While it may seem like an almost impossible task to attract young leaders with the same commitment to business outcomes as your own and who will stay with your company long-term, effective succession planning will be dependent on engaging and exciting a modern workforce.

Our organisation, a commercial real estate firm with more than 130 years of history, recognised that even though the industry is relatively traditional and conservative, it was being disrupted by technology and the growth of global brokerage companies. We knew we needed to innovate and consider a generational transition program to remain competitive and at the top of our game.

We understood the need to bring in fresh talent to inspire this change, but we faced the same challenges many other businesses face when attracting the right people and retaining them based on standard employment conditions.

The rate of job hopping is startling and unsettling, and it can feel like an impossible task to continue to build a young workforce that is motivated and aligned to your business’s goals.

Beyond this, it’s also critical to bring in new faces for succession planning purposes to ensure your company thrives long after you’re gone.

We recently appointed two young commercial real estate agents into equity positions as executive directors. For us, this was a strategy of building a long-term view to succession planning and business success. Here are some of the key lessons we learnt as we developed and implemented our talent acquisition strategy:

Understand your value

It’s important to identify what you offer employees, look at your strengths and weaknesses and come to terms with what will really connect with employees. With strong heritage in the Melbourne market and an agile ownership structure, we were in a strong position to offer a compelling career opportunity  –  in this case, it was the offer for new leaders to take equity in the business, as part of a wider development program. The ability to offer professional guidance through different stages of their career and create a genuine pathway to equity, ensures employees are connected to the business goals and values, which can otherwise prove difficult.

The succession cycle is the blue print for your planning

Succession planning is a continuous task and no matter what stage of the business, it starts now. Keeping employees engaged with your business goals and objectives, and helping them feel part of the future will lessen the pull of global brands. With competition at an all-time high and the fact that two in five small businesses are worried about a loss of customers and revenue to multinational brands, putting in place strategies to retain talent is more important than ever.

Change is continual, necessary and beneficial

Having new up and coming talent as part of your succession plan ensures your businesses is ready and adaptable to change. With such large advancements in technology, it is more important than ever to be ahead of the trends and proactive in responding to change. Our industry, like many others, is in the process of a complete overhaul as we see this move to a consumer-driven marketplace. There is now an expectation of almost immediate engagement as the way we communicate and operate continues to change. Succession planning prepares your business to be adaptable – understanding change is necessary and a young worker demographic is key to this.

Confidence in a growth strategy is the sum of the management team and their ability to communicate and inspire the rest of the organisation.

Commitment is strong with the right environment

Ultimately, millennials are the future of business – recognise this and work hard to have them be part of your strategy moving forward. This is important not only for their development, but for your own too, knowing your hard work will continue long into the future as you leave behind a legacy to be proud of.


About the author

Joseph Walton is the Director of Allard Shelton and the President of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria. He is dedicated to the ongoing improvement of professional development standards.