Lazy, entitled and flaky – just a few of the stereotypes given to millennials in the workforce and wider community. While data is increasingly indicating that these stereotypes are untrue, it’s also showing us that they are very unhelpful, especially for hiring managers and employers.
Born roughly between 1981 and 1996, millennials are predicted to make up the bulk of the workforce by 2020 – and they’re driving change at a rapid pace. This is something that employers can no longer afford to ignore, especially when it comes to hiring the right people and nurturing talent.
What millennials want
Data is showing us that what millennials want is rather simple. While workers across all ages might want more time with family and friends, the millennial age group wants to be satisfied with their work. They want work that is purpose-driven and jobs that will fulfill their personal objectives and career development goals.
In addition to this, the rise of the ‘gig economy’ is showing us that more and more workers are going after flexibility in their work and taking control over what their work entails. Characterised by the widespread trend of individuals choosing freelance work over permanent employment, the gig economy is one of the biggest shake ups of the workforce in recent years. It was recently estimated that around 32 percent of the Australian workforce is made up of freelancers – a percentage that is predicted to rise in coming years.
This model, which has been largely shaped by the millennial generation, does bring about challenges for employers and hiring managers. The pool of employee talent available to managers could get smaller and smaller, as more high performers choose a path of freelance work. Although the rise of the gig economy might pose a threat to employers who are slow to adapt to a soon-to-be millennial-driven workforce, it provides an opportunity for employers to attract great talent.
Hiring managers and team leaders must keep up
Employers can use insights that the increasing popularity of the gig economy provides not only to source, but to retain and nurture talent. By prioritising millennial workplace desires like job satisfaction and flexibility, employers can bring in and retain great talent – shaping their workforce to drive productivity and overall company results.
When it comes to sourcing talent, looking for the right skills and qualifications is just one piece of the puzzle. Workers are increasingly looking for roles that will satisfy their personal goals and provide a promise of career progression. A study conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers indicates that 52 percent of millennials look for “growth opportunities” when choosing a new role. Growth opportunities can come in the form of continuing education, taking on new challenges and responsibilities, or improving on existing skills. It can also relate to an employee’s overall progression in a company. Employers and managers must consider this when acquiring talent, as they need to be able to offer these opportunities if they intend to keep their new hires proactively engaged and connected with their work.
Retaining great talent
Keeping talent around is the next challenge for employers. Millennials are notorious for job hopping – 21 per cent of millennials have changed jobs in the past year, compared to just 7 percent of non-millennials. But frequent job changing is not necessarily indicative of flakiness or a feeling of job insecurity like many believe. In fact, the opposite could be true. A recent survey found that 90% of millennials would choose to stay in a job for the next decade if they knew they’d receive “annual rises” and “upward career mobility”.
In order to retain talent, managers and employers must begin by being willing to adapt to different working styles and cooperate with employees to set out clear development paths. Companies can glean a lot from setting down the groundwork to foster their millennial talent. It can boost their level of employee engagement, increase productivity and improve company results.
David Leahy is the Director of Directions Unlimited, a specialist consultancy providing people solutions of every shape and size.