Millennials have had a hard time of it in the press in recent years, being blamed for everything from being narcissistic and entitled to lazy and apathetic. While over-use of selfie-sticks absolutely justifies criticism, business leaders shouldn’t blame them for everything.
This group, today somewhere between their late teens and 35, will make up a full half of the global workforce by 2020 according to PwC. Behind the headlines is a section of our society adapting to external forces as best they can, just as their parents did before them. For employers, this change means that a lot of the systems, assumptions, and frameworks that governed their careers as they rose through the ranks are no longer fit for purpose for the people they want to employ.
At LinkedIn, we wanted to know more about what drives this vital, and often misunderstood demographic when it comes to the jobs market, so we surveyed more than 13,000 of them across the world. Here are three key points for businesses looking to attract and keep top millennial talent.
1. For millennials, the job market is a buyer’s market
When looking for a job, nearly one in three millennials (32%) will interview with two or three firms at the same time. That’s more than double the number of generation X and three times the number of baby boomers. When in a job, a full 93% are open to relevant opportunities, again topping previous generations.
While this may seem like disloyalty, it’s a natural adaptation to the world we now live in. Social media and other online tools have removed the walls of companies that once made it hard to spot new opportunities. Previous generations didn’t necessarily choose not to look around and to stick with their employer for life, they just didn’t have the tools and the insights to easily spot other options. The final salary pension schemes probably helped them stay put, too.
As a result, 30% of millennials we questioned see themselves leaving their current employer within a year, almost twice the number of baby boomers. What if one in three of your workforce weren’t at your company in a year’s time? Would you be able to replace them fast enough to keep your company going? This is a significant challenge a lot of companies will have to face in the not-too-distant future.
As a result of this, we’re seeing an increase in employers offering new ways to satisfy this generation’s hunger to grow and advance, whether this is through training, internal mobility offering secondments, volunteering opportunities or mini-sabbaticals. Transparency and authenticity are also essential, and companies should use all the channels they have available to get employees bought in to their brand and vision if they want them to commit for the longer term.
2. Building awareness before making job offers is key
One in four millennials have been approached with roles from companies they’ve never heard of, compared to 16% of baby boomers. While this may not seem important, not knowing the company or fully understanding the role are the top two reasons why millennials will reject an opportunity, topping salary and title as the reasons to say no.
To get over that hurdle, employers need to make sure their messaging resonates with this key target group. What you can do for your employees is right at the heart of what millennials want to hear about, so if your ‘value add’ isn’t a big part of your employer brand then you’re likely to be losing out to your competitors when jobs become open.
3. Millennials may not be as purpose-driven as we thought
According to our research, compensation and benefits top the list of considerations when it comes to job opportunities for millennials, followed by career advancement and challenging work. In fact, they seem less preoccupied with culture and values than their older colleagues, with 30% saying their work should be ‘purpose driven’ compared to 38% of generation X and nearly half (48%) of baby boomers.
This means things like free food, gym membership, and discounts with high street shops are a big deal for millennials. Of course, not every employer will want to or be able to extend to all these perks, but this only makes it more important for employers to make the most of what they have. One option is to focus on areas that have a low cost for the business but a high impact for the employees, like offering flexible working options that could save on required deskspace. One in four millennials would be willing to take a pay cut in return for more flexibility.
All of these trends go to highlight the changes that companies need to be applying to the way they think about talent today. These changes aren’t needed because they’re trendy, but because they could make the difference between being in business in 2020 and not.
Josh Graff is UK MD at LinkedIn