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