Hiring Millennials: What The Experts Say

Depending on who you listen to, millennials are either lazy, entitled, and impatient or hard-working, dedicated, and forward-thinking – but one thing is for sure: we can’t afford to ignore them.

According to Deloitte, the global workforce is 75% made up of millennials, so change is inevitable.

We’ve pulled together what experts say on hiring millennials and summarised it for you – so you can draw your own conclusions without combing the web for hours.

From the benefits of hiring millennials to attracting, recruiting, managing, and retaining them – we’ve got you covered too.

Table of contents:

  1. Why hire Millennials?
  2. How to attract Millennials?
  3. How to recruit Millennials?
  4. How to manage Millennials?
  5. How to retain Millennials?
  6. Bonus: What Are the Best Jobs for Millennials?

Why Hire Millennials?

1. Digital and Social Experience

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are the largest and most diverse generation in history. They have grown up with technology at their fingertips and are often seen as innovative and adaptable in the workplace.

Furthermore, Millennials value work-life balance and prioritize experiences over material possessions, leading to a strong desire for meaningful work.

These qualities make Millennials valuable assets to any company, as they bring fresh perspectives and new ideas to the table.

Sally Susman, Executive VP of Pfizer in ‘Why Hiring Millennials Could Be Good For Business’ for Fortune noted three main advantages of hiring millennials:

  1. Digital communication – Many millennials, writes Susman, have broad digital and social media experience that can help brands build stronger relationships online. The diversity in voice that millennials bring to the table can be critical in finding innovative ways to communicate online.
  2. Corporate responsibility – As the boundaries dissolve between the public, private and social sectors, there is an opportunity for businesses to create cross-divisional programs with tangible real-world social impact. Millennials bring a fluidity in thinking that can help move corporate responsibility programs beyond static charity-only based models and into a form of entrepreneurial.
  3. Corporate affairs – As a relatively new area, and the critical intersection between internal and external stakeholders and the public, corporate affairs is an area Susman feels can benefit most from millennial input.

Susman’s point is: millennials should proactively seek out opportunities to add value beyond their day job, and businesses should be prepared to let them into the fray – because the insight they bring can be invaluable.

2. Confidence, Innovation, and Experience

Author Andrew Carver spends a lot of time working within Board and Executive Advisory roles with innovative technology and media companies, so his insights are based on extensive first-hand experience of the millennial workforce.

For 3seven9 in ‘Taking a Bet on Millennials – They’re Connected, Is Your Company?’ Carver listed 4 main reasons:

  • Enthusiasm & Excitement
  • Confidence to take the initiative
  • Digital Intuition
  • Innovation vs. experience

He notes the “fresh enthusiasm” he sees in the millennial workforce. The ‘glass half-full’ approach is not only refreshing but essential to growing a sustainable business.

Part of the millennial charm is their confidence to innovate, born of a complete lack of risk awareness. This freedom allows real creativity without fear for the consequences, enabling real innovation.

Mirroring Susman, Carver comments on the digital awareness millennials bring to the table. He notes how digital connectivity is “intuitive”, and they’re automatically part of an “always-on ecosystem” that gives them the leg-up on less digital savvy counterparts.

Lastly, Carver comments on the need to balance experience with innovation, knowledge with optimism, and ambition. Maybe a team that was just millennial talent would struggle, but a team made up off cross-generational talent in which millennial insight is given free rein: that team could really go places.

How to Attract Millennials

1. Environment, Incentives, and Work-Life Balance

Dale Carnegie is a training community serving business professionals in 90 countries worldwide. They offer a broad range of courses about engaging, inspiring, and motivating employees, so they know a thing or two about workplace dynamics.

The article ‘What Millennials Want in The Workplace’ addresses the need for organizations to create a work environment that will be attractive to the millennial workforce, in order to entice the best candidates in a competitive talent market.

There are four main ways, “beyond office space and beer in the fridge”, that forward-thinking organizations can do this.

The first of these is through building an effective work-life balance – which means something rather different to millennials than to previous generations.

Rather than wanting a balance between work and outside work, “millennials want the flexibility to work and live all at the same time”. In other words, organizations should create a flexible working environment in which employees are as free as possible to choose their own hours. It’s not about working less – as one might assume – but about allowing them to work when they want to.

Which leads us nicely to the second point: creating incentives based on clear goals. The stereotype doesn’t do millennials justice. Far from being lazy and work-averse, most millennials are more than willing to put in the hard graft – as long as they’re given flexibility (as above) and, crucially, they know why the task is meaningful. So. To attract millennials, companies “must have communication tools that show employees how their jobs relate to the overall goals of the company”.

The implementation of these goals brings us to the third point: limited oversight. The worst thing you can do for millennials is to create an environment in which they’ll be micro-managed. Millennial talent wants to be shown the goals and then left largely alone to achieve them.

The final point is about creating a positive working environment. Millennials differ from the generations before them in that “no amount of money, job protection or sweet pension plan will keep millennials in a job they despise”. Creating a positive work environment is something that millennial talent will sense from their first contact with you – and is one of the simplest (although that’s not to say easiest) ways to attract millennials.

2. Purposeful Hiring

‘Purposeful Hiring: How to Attract Millennials to Your Workplace’ by Roberta Matuson, a regular Forbes contributor on the topic of talent maximization.

For Matuson, the 4th Annual Deloitte Millennial Survey confirmed what she’s known all along: “employers are barking up the wrong tree when it comes to hiring.”

Business leaders must “reset” how they attract talent “if they want to acquire the talent needed to fuel business growth”.

Matuson outlines the concept of “purposeful hiring” as the solution, made up of three main principles:

  • Focus on People and Purpose
  • Career Development is More Than a Training Program
  • Revisit the Types of Leaders You Promote and Hire

Let’s look at her points in turn.

The first of these ties into the Carnegie article’s point, above: millennial talent wants to do something meaningful.

Matuson suggests businesses focus on “identifying how the world is better as a result of their company being in business”, and then finding was to communicate this message more effectively both internally and externally. She recommends working with hiring managers “to ensure the conversations they’re having with prospective employees accurately reflects the partnership we are attempting to achieve”.

The second point is one well worth noting – millennials see career development as much more than a one-size-fits-all training program.

Matuson believes that “career development is a two-way street”. It’s something employees should be actively involved with, shaping their own development. One example she gives is facilitating a round-table for leaders at similar stages in their career, so they can learn and grow with each other. This is only one possible example of many – the key is to provide bespoke and multi-faceted growth opportunities.

Finally, Matuson writes of the need to evaluate the types of leaders in your business. “People work for their bosses”, she points out, and successfully attracting millennials means knowing the kind of leaders they want to work with and promoting/hiring this talent too.

How to Recruit Millennials

1. Focus on Cultural Fit

We’ve all read pieces on top interview questions (we’ve written about it before ourselves) but this article, ‘8 Questions That Will Help You Find The Best Millennial Job Candidates’,  looks at questions specifically tailored to get the best out of millennial candidates.

For the author, Evan Burns, the biggest mistake companies make when hiring millennials is leading with competency-based questions instead of focussing on finding the right cultural fit.

Burns gives 8 questions designed to ascertain “mutual cultural fit”, in order to secure millennial hires that will be more likely to be beneficial long term.

  1. What are your dreams and aspirations?
  2. Why are you doing this?
  3. How have you been the creator of your world and not a victim of circumstances?
  4. What would your previous boss say your best quality is?
  5. How does this job get you to the next step of where you want to go?
  6. Why should someone take this specific job in this specific company?
  7. When did you overcome an impossible obstacle or achieve an impossible goal?
  8. How are you going to add to our culture and make people around you better?

Each of these questions is designed to get a sense of whether a new hire is going to be mutually beneficial.

Later interviews can be dedicated to competency, but effectively hiring millennials demand a refined hiring process centering on cultural fit.

2. Think Outside the Box

Based on feedback from recruiters and hiring managers, ’14 Must Adopt Recruiting Techniques for Hiring Millennials’ gives a series of outside-the-box recruitment tips to help hire millennial talent:

  1. Engage on social media – Maintain an active presence on the major social networks to give millennials the opportunity to get to know your company, values, products and services. “Off-the-cuff” conversations via social media are a key millennial recruitment channel.
  2. Use a real name and real face on social – Millennials want to know explicitly who they’re interacting with – authenticity and real engagement are key.
  3. Have a why – A point that’s come up several times in these articles is the need to create purpose: “Ultimately, a Millennial wants to know why they should take this job. How will it help them with their overall goals?”
  4. Keep your website and social identity up to date  – Keep your presence up to date in the same way you’d expect a candidate to have kept their resume up to date. Not doing so implies you simply don’t care, and that’s a big turn off to millennial talent.
  5. Keep selling your company – through “rapid fire communications”. Millennials expect to acquire information quickly, and if your company falls down on that then expect to struggle recruiting millennials.
  6. Be respectful – In other words, create a positive candidate experience – especially for those who don’t make the cut. Word spreads quickly and millennials are listening.
  7. Recruiters: expect and prepare for long-term relationships  – Millennials change jobs more frequently than other generations, which presents an opportunity and a challenge for recruiters: “Recruiters must use more inbound marketing techniques to build long-term relationships and relationship opportunities instead of more traditional outbound marketing techniques”
  8. Build relationships earlier – Recruiters and hiring managers should build relationships with millennials before they enter the hiring market. “Creating [an] up-front relationship will secure a future hire”.
  9. Live the brand and culture  – Another common theme among these articles is the importance of culture. Living up to your brand and culture is important in breeding loyalty amongst millennial talent.
  10. Show don’t tell – Show millennials what it’s like to work with you. This article makes two suggestions:
    1. Invite potential hires into your office for a trial
    2. Shoot a ‘day in the life of’ style video
  11. Accept failure – “Millennials are attracted to entrepreneurial environments that have a culture that accepts failure as part of the learning and innovation process”.
  12. Offer flexibility – Another recurrent theme. Millennials want to “blend their work and personal lives together in a way that makes sense for them.” Some suggested options are telecommuting, non-traditional hours and a results-only-work-environment (ROWE).
  13. Offer training in cool offices – If you have an office in Rome, this article says, you’ll do well to offer new hires the ability to spend their first month or three working from it. Make coming on board attractive by sending new employees to your best locations, if possible.
  14. Build a community – Companies that proactively create a hiring community are better placed to recruit millennials. Millennials who are interested in a potential role should be able to casually engage with hiring managers and current employees in order to “have open and frank discussions” and “build credible relationships”.

In all, this piece concludes, millennials aren’t so different from the generations before they but they do have different priorities. Companies must leverage that in order to up their chances of making the right millennial hires.

How to Manage Millennials

1. Facebook’s Management Techniques

Bringing different priorities and different attitudes into the workplace, effectively managing millennials is a subject of major concern.

Entrepreneur’s ‘Trying to Manage Millennials at Work? Here’s How Facebook Does It’ gives three management techniques developed and used by Facebook, to help get the most out of their primarily millennial-age workforce.

  1. Conversational management style  – Facebook has worked hard to create a two-way management style, where employees at all levels are encouraged to question, offer solutions and provide feedback on management decisions.
  2. Shifting roles – It’s often noted that millennials will ‘job-hop’ regularly, in order to broaden their experience and avoid boredom. Facebook capitalizes on this by encouraging employees to shift roles within the company “based on their strengths and career objectives”. What better way to keep talent in-house while catering to the millennial need for variety?
  3. Grading on a curve – Facebook employees are measured against everyone else’s performance, rather than measured against a static list of criteria. This prevents complacency and encourages employees to constantly grow, ensuring a consistently high standard of work.

These methods can create a “fast-paced, mercurial environment [which] can lead to burn-out”, but it’s a useful template from a highly successful millennial-built and (largely) run company.

2. Understanding Motivation, Drivers, and Challenges

Raconteur’s ‘Managing Millennials: A Guide For Businesses’ centers on the need to really understand millennial talent – their motivations, drivers and challenges – in order to manage them more effectively in the workplace.

They’ve broken down three core competencies that are central to understanding the “elusive millennial”, looking at the implications of these to millennial management.

1. Aspiration – If 53% of millennials aspire to be Chief Executive, it’s critical that companies demonstrate their commitment to supporting and fostering aspirations. “Millennials want a two-way relationship with their employer, creating an unspoken psychological contract where transparency allows for that clear career-progression path”.

2. Recognition – In line with Facebook’s strategy, this piece highlights the importance of creating a two-way feedback process. 68% of millennials appreciate on-going feedback, but this is expected to run both ways. Business leaders must listen to millennial views, in order to “capitalize on a generation that’s plugged in, clued up, savvy and empowered, but self-prioritizing”.

3. Flexibility – A theme that’s come up a lot, this article emphasizes the importance of embracing new, more flexible, ways of working. 70% of tomorrow’s leaders, say De