Want Millennial Talent? Pay Attention to Workplace Culture

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As the new millennium continues to usher in widespread social transformations and increasingly connected lifestyles, it has become clear that the face of the 9-5 office is also changing. With a shrinking pool of qualified candidates paired with a healthy economic outlook, the balance of quality workers and career opportunities has shifted, placing more control in the hands of job seekers, who are more concerned with finding the right company than the right paycheck.

The recent emergence of millennials as the nation’s largest working generation is quickly altering workplace expectations and many hiring managers are concerned about how to attract and retain talent. Young professionals are shaking off old trends and driving their careers based on what fits their personality, values and lifestyle.

As the state becomes a more attractive business destination and drives a healthier workforce, Michigan leaders are looking to experts to help businesses attract and retain talent – particularly millennials who have brought about changes in the way we work, live, and connect. With nearly 20 years of executive level human resources experience, I have faced this challenge and struggled like everyone else. Along the way, I have pinpointed trends and tips to help businesses adjust their hiring strategies to harness millennial talent.

The Challenge and the Opportunity
In 21st century recruiting, it is crucial that hiring managers know how to attract and retain employees that will fit the company’s culture—not just possess the right skillset. However, with budgetary constraints and the “do more with less” pressure on hiring managers, they are lured into seeking candidates with the right list of skills. It is crucial for human resource professionals and hiring managers to embrace new approaches and update their hiring strategy in order to find and keep the right professionals in the right seats.

The recruiting process can be costly, time consuming, and does not always translate into finding candidates who are both qualified and an organizational fit. More than ever before, companies need to be deliberate and open about their culture and to cultivate the type of environment that they aspire to. When individuals are suited to their environment, they are happier, more productive and likely to stay at one company for longer, which in turn leads to long-term value for employers.

In many ways, culture is the most important quality to ensure a happy and productive workplace. By getting to know a candidate’s work preferences up front, a hiring manager can make a better determination about whether that person will be a good addition to their team.

Hire for Fit, Train for Skill
Most businesses recognize that at the end of the day, people are their most valuable asset. Today that recognition is driving internal as well as external people strategies. An organization’s success and even their brand are built by the people who work within their walls. While solid management and a good business plan are critical, it is the team that executes the work, gets results and builds up a loyal base. For this reason, one of the major emerging trends in the workplace – to hire for fit and train for skill – is now becoming a competitive differentiator for companies.

Even if a candidate does not bring the precise certifications or specific degree you are looking for, they may be the right person to contribute to your team. Investing in a candidate with the right “soft skills” is an advantage for several reasons, and allows employers to build good work habits and their own brand of on-the-job training for other necessary skills.

By planning to train new employees in company processes, managers can save time and effort down the road by allowing themselves to choose the right candidate up front. After all, skills can be built, but some of the most valuable qualities are those that cannot be taught.

What Millennials Really Want
Millennials want more than a paycheck, and are willing to turn down job offers and wait for the right fit. Yet with a track record of changing jobs every few years, millennials have made it difficult for employers to get a pulse on what they really want. Today’s professionals want a more individual experience, one that can have a positive impact on the world around them.

Below are three of the most desired traits that young professionals want at work:

Professional development and continuing education opportunities. Millennials are a group that values higher education and want to know that their employer is interested in individual improvement and keeping up on new trends and changes in their industry.

Mentors, not bosses. Experienced supervisors who act more like mentors than bosses are a great asset to a company. Young professionals seek experiences that enrich their personal and professional lives, and they want a leader who is capable and willing to share their knowledge and offer feedback on an individual level.

Advancement, advancement, advancement. A clear opportunity to advance through the company is very important to young professionals. They are savvy about their career, and want to be rewarded for their work through promotions and career development. Millennials value their time and see it as an investment. Therefore, like an investor, they seek a return on the investment of their time from a career standpoint.

The Bottom Line
The modern workforce is very different than it was 20 or 30 years ago – and recruiting is undergoing a revolution. Young professionals bring a different energy and approach to their careers and are in a position to search for a company whose culture and values reflect their own style and personality. Most importantly, when they no longer feel these needs are being met, they have the courage to vote with their feet and leave a company.

Hiring managers with the vision to adapt to this shift in the workforce and place a fresh emphasis on cultural preferences can find new and vast opportunities—and tap into an entirely new pool of potential candidates that will be a fit for your company and bring value to your organization for years to come.