Workplace Culture

Making The Most Of Millennials: How To Recruit, Integrate, And Retain The Next Generation Of Talent

As millennials swell to the largest working-age cohort in Canada, corporate culture is change. Here’s a look at how to adapt – and succeed – with millennial talent.
— By Jill Motley

According to statistics gathered by Environics Analytics, there will soon be more than 11 million Canadian millennials, the largest generation in the workforce. Yet less than 10 percent of Canadian organizations have taken specific steps to integrate millennials into their companies. Here’s what’s being learned about how businesses can successfully recruit millennials, incorporate them into company culture, and retain millennials known for frequent job-hopping.

Recruiting Millennial Employees
Some experts believe that in the next ten years, millennials will become the majority of the Canadian workforce. Any organization that desires to not get left behind must consider how to recruit some of these millions of millennials to join their company. What are millennials looking for in prospective employers?

More than any generation before them, millennials have a strong desire to work for companies that are making a positive impact in the world. While competitive salaries are always attractive, for many millennials work is not just about the money. They see their careers more like callings. Social and environmental justice causes are high priorities, and organizations that can demonstrate their commitment to the same will hold a higher appeal for young employees.

“To attract and retain talent, companies need to show Millennials it is innovative and in tune with their world-view,” said Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. Expect millennials to ask more questions in job interviews, as they seek to uncover the organization’s values and contributions to society.

As an added note, ensure the company website and user interfaces are up-to-date to draw this digitally savvy generation. Consider the tone and content of company social media posts, which millennials are almost certain to have investigated. Paper brochures may have less of an impact than videos.

Integrating Millennials Into Company Culture
Organizations that wish to more effectively integrate millennials into their company culture may need to first honestly investigate their business values and ideals. It is quite likely that to accommodate an influx of new, young employees, companies may need to adjust some of the expectations around work.

For example, millennials are extremely comfortable with technology. Text messaging and other chat features will be widely used, instead of phone calls or in-person meetings. Rather than resisting this dynamic, managers could embrace the convenience of virtual meetings, while at times also helping younger employees understand the value of face-to-face interactions.

Consider work-life balance expectations at the organization. Many millennials place a high value on flexibility. Managers must be aware of how company norms surrounding hours worked and availability when “off the clock” may be received by younger workers. Companies could contemplate adjustments in vacation policies. With this flexibility may come a more relaxed attitude toward formality in titles and dress code, which is attractive to millennial workers.

Retaining Millennials for The Long Term
Once an organization has recruited millennials and sought to integrate these young workers into the company, it will need to ensure that the business remains an appealing place for millennials to work.

More than 77 percent of Canadian millennials feel that their employers do not do enough to help develop their leadership skills. This is one of the main reasons that many millennials will leave their organizations in the next few years, to seek new opportunities elsewhere. To retain these young workers, companies need to provide pathways for advancement.

One possibility is to offer younger-sounding job titles and more “in-between” promotional steps. According to the Human Resources Professionals Association, 70 percent of millennials expect to advance in their careers every 18 months or so. By creating more incremental opportunities, managers can support this desire for growth and change in sustainable ways. Training and experience can match the pace of increased responsibilities. Harness millennial ambition by offering more transitional steps.

By providing options for additional certifications and online trainings, managers can feed young worker appetites for learning and growing, especially through technology.
Millennials are extremely tech-savvy and adept at pursuing educational opportunities. By providing options for additional certifications and online trainings, managers can feed young worker appetites for learning and growing, especially through technology.

Mentoring opportunities, especially those that go both ways, can be extremely valuable for well-educated but inexperienced workers, as well as mature workers who could be inspired by fresh ideas. Millennials who participate in mentoring programs are not only more likely to stay with their organization, but also will have a deeper institutional knowledge and company loyalty.

In addition to mentoring and other pathways for advancement, businesses that want to retain millennials need to have strong, open communication. Part of this structure is clear assessment rubrics. Millennials are accustomed to having readily defined structures to know they are being successful. They have high expectations for feedback and personal coaching.

Millennials also expect their voices to be heard, and are used to having platforms such as social media to make their opinions known. Creating open channels of communication will keep younger workers more engaged and help them feel they are truly part of the organization. Unlike older generations, these workers are more comfortable asking their supervisors to explain why certain tasks are required. While this can be misconstrued as disrespect, managers who meet this challenge with confidence will reassure their employees that their work is valuable to the organization as a whole.

Finally, companies that wish to retain younger workers must embrace flexibility. Many millennials have an entrepreneurial spirit and could readily imagine one day working for themselves. Employers with generous vacation policies and flexible working conditions can help their millennial workers feel a sense of freedom at work that may boost their loyalty. Because work-life balance is so important to millennials, a flexible work environment can be even more valuable than financial remuneration.

Organizations that are willing to make time to recruit, integrate, and keep their millennial workers stand to reap huge gains in the coming years. Most importantly, they will ensure that the new generation of workers are happy in their roles, and happy workers are productive workers.