Embrace challenges of recruiting Millennials

Updated September 9, 2019

Market research firm Frost & Sullivan calls Millennials—who will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025—“one of the most disruptive forces the American workplace has ever experienced.”

A new Deloitte report says these 21st century employees “have radically different expectations about work than those of previous generations.”

Says Melanie Turek, Frost & Sullivan’s VP of research, “Millennials are having a profound impact on everything from business processes to communications technologies.”

That’s not all bad. Older employees are buying into their younger colleagues’ new ways of working.

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“Companies must learn to adapt to these new trends, and leverage them to drive collaboration, boost productivity and measurably improve business outcomes,” Turek says. “The trick is knowing what to adopt and what to reject—and how to ensure that the new ways of working are good for employees and the organization.”

Here are some challenges and positives organizations could face as they employ Millenials.

Millennial norms are different

Too many social-media-savvy Millennials are better at communicating via text message than face-to-face, which can present an enormous problem at work—even before they start working.

Recruiters say many young job candidates answer text messages or phone calls during interviews. They dress too casually and use slang. Some even bring their parents and pets with them.

In a recent survey by the Center for Professional Excellence, HR execs said young employees often appear arrogant and display a sense of entitlement in interviews and on the job.

Tip: Ask young recruits if they’re ready to become professionals. Explain your rules about personal use of social media and cellphones at work. Prepare for pushback.

Communication may be unclear

Despite all of the time they spend “talking” to others via social media, young job applicants lack communication and interpersonal skills, according to a survey of employers by the Workforce Solutions Group at St. Louis Community College.

Most of the managers in the study also said they find few job candidates are creative, write well or possess organizational, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.

Tip: Administer writing tests to applicants. Consider including some of your organization’s most capable young employees in the interviewing process to assess how well applicants might engage with their peer group once on the job.

Millennials value job security

The stereotype says Millennials will job-hop. But these young people witnessed the toll the recession took on their parents. About half of them still say they plan to stay at their first jobs for five or more years, a survey by brand research firm Universum reveals.

Tip: A quick exit by a new em-ployee often indicates a mismatch between the candidate’s expectations and the reality of the job, says Melissa Murray Bailey, president of Universum Americas. Solution: Before making an offer, be up front and truthful about the work, your culture and your expectations.

They have lots of choices

Graduates are considering more employers than they have in five years, Universum reports.

A better economy, coupled with a stronger-than-ever presence of recruiters on college campuses, has left new grads optimistic enough about landing a good job fresh out of college that they feel they can play the field.

Tip: While that optimism makes competition fierce for the best and brightest new grads, it could be good news for smaller employers. They might win consideration from students who previously would have jumped on their first job offer.

Training will be vital

The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that 1.6 million students will graduate with bachelor’s degrees this year, yet their ranks will not close the widespread skills gap facing American businesses.

In fact, a survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education shows employers believe colleges are doing only a fair-to-poor job of producing “successful employees.”

Tip: Hire bright job candidates, and then pile on the training—through internal development programs and online courses. Deloitte urges ongoing training for waves of new hires so to avoid running out of talent with specialized job skills.

Good news: Millennials embrace training. Notes Deloitte’s Josh Bersin, “Today, people want to work for organizations that continually invest in developing their skills, thereby enabling them to stay relevant in the ever-changing workforce.”

It takes more than money

Young employees are unlikely to embrace the all-work-and-no-play work ethic that many of their parents subscribed to.

They expect employers to help them achieve work/life balance, something 40% of execs in the Deloitte study admit their organizations don’t do well.

Millennials also want the opportunity to make a difference in the world, and they want to work for organizations that align with their professional, personal and social goals.

Tip: During interviews, talk up your policies on flextime, telework, tuition assistance, time off for volunteering and other work/life-related perks.

Snapshot: What education benefits do employers offer?

Tuition assistance to help employees take undergraduate and graduate college courses remains the most common education-related benefit.

College tuition assistance: 56%
529 plan payroll deduction: 11%
Scholarships for family members: 11%
Student loan repayment: 8%

Source: SHRM Employee Benefits 2019 survey