The Do's and Dont's of Attracting, Hiring, and Retaining Millennials

ReWork Evan WaldenNew York-Based ReWork has made it its mission to connect the world’s best talent to careers working on the world’s most pressing issues. It matches professionals directly to full-time job opportunities exclusively with organizations making social, environmental, and cultural progress. After working with more than 150 of the world’s most innovative nonprofits and socially responsible businesses, CEO Evan Walden shared his wisdom on the most critical trends, opportunities, and best practices when it comes to hiring the next generation.

Top Trends in Millennial Employment

In one of the most-watched TED talks in history, Simon Sinek teaches us to “Start with Why.” This could not be more true when it comes to hiring and retaining Millennials.

Millennials are purpose-driven, and tend to value career experiences over career safety. Organizations that are able to clearly articulate their purpose therefore have the opportunity to attract talent that they may never be able to afford on salary alone. The opportunity to make a real impact in the world is valued by Millennials as much as salary, benefits, and the prestige of an organization’s brand.

A double or triple bottom line is not only good for business, but is virtually necessary to recruit and retain Millennial talent. Millennials will flock to companies that go beyond mere philanthropy or corporate responsibility. Employers therefore need to embed meaning into their work.

Hiring managers can stay competitive during the recruiting process by having thoughtful answers to the questions at left, showcasing both the opportunity and their organization.

Common Characteristics of Companies with High Retention Rates 

When organizations ignore talent development, people leave. It is that simple. Companies that retain great people are doing some of the following things:

  • Being intentional about professional development and upward mobility. In a recent study from Bridgespan of more than 400 nonprofit C-suite executives, half of respondents cited a lack of professional development opportunities as a reason for leaving their jobs. Presenting clear opportunities for growth allows people to see a potential future with your organization, instead of looking elsewhere.
  • Living out company values. At Zappos, Tony Hsieh, a well-known culture guru, positions the Zappos company values not merely as material for a feel-good poster for the break room, but as a strategic decision-making framework. Their values are present from the beginning of their hiring process all the way through to the decisions they make as an executive team.
  • Thinking of compensation as more than just the paycheck. Money is important, but salary is not a company’s only tool for attracting and retaining top talent. Remote work, unique benefits, flexible hours, and generous vacation can be just as important in keeping people happy over time.
  • Planning for employee turnover.

The fact is, young people are going to leave your organization, and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. The best way to address this is to plan for it by maintaining a strong talent pipeline — both internally, by identifying up-and-coming talent, and externally, by investing in your employer brand. Taking occasional coffee meetings, hosting events, and writing thought-leadership pieces are all great ways to stay top-of-mind with passive candidates.

The Most Important Factors in Attracting Talent

Recognize that “Employer Brand” is important, and that you are courting the best professionals as much as they are selling you. Time-consuming hoops in the application process and “gotcha” interview questions will not attract the best.

Instead, design your application process for the ideal candidate. Speak with a human voice. Make it easy for them to signal interest. Be specific about responsibilities and who the ideal candidate would be. Show how a rising star will grow and develop faster at your organization than anywhere else. Communicate your organization’s purpose and share your big wins transparently.

Primary Differences Between Millennials and Other Generations in the Workplace

The Millennial generation is the first generation to break the traditional career arc of getting a job that pays well, building up retirement savings, and enjoying life as a retired person. There is no stable career ladder to cling to anymore. Millennials want fulfillment at work now, and are not willing to postpone meaning until later in life. While still young, Millennials want to test multiple careers in search of deeper meaning.

The idea of a “career” is changing in other ways as well. Over time, we are seeing more entrepreneurship, freelancing, and small gigs, and less dedication to one institution for the length of one’s career.

While changing careers multiple times in a decade may not build stability, it does build resilience, and in an ever-changing economy, that may prove to be more valuable than a corporate pension.

This article appeared in Issue 7 | May/June 2016

Issue 7 features exciting interviews and profiles all focusing on youth and Millennials including: Sweetgreen; Radha and Miki Agrawal; Nisolo; a spotlight on the higher education system including a look at the student debt crisis and the top 15 sustainable MBA programs; and our inspiring cover story — Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez of one of the most exciting food companies in the nation, Back to the Roots.

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