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  • Writer's pictureDennis Sullivan

How to attract & keep the best and brightest

5 recruiting tactics you can use today when hiring millennials -- soon to be the largest generation in the workforce

The most popular TV show among millennials says quite a bit about the state of hiring today.

There is one TV show that is considered great, perhaps even the greatest of all time, among Millennials. Many of them were not even old enough to have seen the original episodes.

Yet, surprisingly to the network executives, The Office has become a phenomenon on Netflix thanks to millions of millennials who can quote lines from Jim, Pam and Michael Scott in memes on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and on dating apps. The Office was the most-watched show on Netflix during a 12-month period that ended last summer, according to Nielsen data reported by the Wall Street Journal. It’s so popular Billie Eilish, Gen Z’s most prominent music star who defies any traditional category, used to open her concerts with theme music from the TV show.

Meanwhile, my generation is still quoting lines from Airplane and Caddyshack. What a difference a generation makes.

The generational differences tell us a lot more, however about the state of recruiting and retaining workers today than 20 or even 30 years ago.

Think about it. The Baby Boomers and even many Gen X’ers grew up in a time when workers spent decades at one company, put in their time and worked hard to gradually move up through the ranks. And then they griped about it while tuning into Cheers and Taxi. Millennials were born between 1980 and mid-2000s. They are the largest generation to hit the workforce as the Baby Boom generation retires. They saw terrorists change the world on 9/11 and just eight years later saw their parents either lose their jobs or struggle to stay in their jobs as the worst recession in the country’s history made them re-think ideas about company loyalty, start-at-the-bottom and work-your-way-up, and trust that good work will be rewarded.

The Office pokes fun at all that – and echoes a sentiment among millions of millennials that a job doesn’t have to be just a job, especially when it all can be suddenly taken from you.

It is no surprise when managers complain that younger employees don’t want to “start-at-the-bottom and work-their-way-up” or “pay their dues” or “work hard now so they can be rewarded later.” Those concepts are what made The Office resonate with an entire generation entering the workforce.

So how do you respond to one of the biggest challenges in business today: recruiting and retaining a new generation of workers? The financial industry is one that is very dependent on younger generations building business and it is quickly adapting to recruit and retain the best and brightest millennials. Based on a 2016 article published in Journal of Financial Management, here is a summary of the 5 best practices you can apply in your business…

  1. Encourage a balance between work and life outside of work. That means the two will often merge. For some, that may mean working from home. Offer paid maternity/paternity leave. Get rid of daily start and end times and shift the focus to spending the time needed to get the work done, whenever that makes sense for the employee, the customers and the business. Replace traditional sick leave with Paid Time Off since millennials don’t usually get sick often. Let them use that time to take off and come back energized and refreshed.

  2. Define expectations and opportunities. It’s no secret that many millennials have unrealistic expectations that they will suddenly be hired as a manager (even though they just graduated). However, they are obviously ambitious and eager to prove themselves. Terrific! During the interview process, outline the path they will need to follow to become a manager. Give them the playbook they need to follow including trainings, responsibilities and your expectations so they can see themselves in that position one or two years from now.

  3. Give feedback often. Think about the best boss you have had in your career. It’s very likely that person often praised you, coached you and offered instructive advice to help you. This is indeed a generation that can get instant praise – and criticism – with a simple like, text or comment. Good managers need to be just as quick to “catch” someone doing something well and praise them for it.

  4. Screen candidates for the “right-fit.” No longer are you just looking for skills. Skills can be taught, and the skills needed to operate technology five years from now may not even exist today. More research is emerging that Person-Organization fit (P-O fit) may be more important to help reduce turnover, increase profitability and sustain an enduring organizational culture, according to a 2011 article published in the International Journal of Business and Social Science. P-O fit argues that people are attracted and selected by organizations that match their values – and they leave those that do not. It begs the question: What are your organization’s values? How do you communicate them beyond what is printed on your website?

  5. Have some fun. A new generation of workers is not looking to work 8 hours a day and go home to a life at home. Company sponsored birthday parties, outings, and events that benefit the community or charitable causes (again on company time!) create greater camaraderie and provides more evidence that your values are in alignment with a new generation of workers.

Just like you are marketing your products or services to prospects, you are “marketing” your organization to prospective job candidates as you build your talent pool. What story do you have to tell about how a young, ambitious person can grow in your organization and have fun without checking their values at the door?

Try these 5 best practices and you will be more likely to attract the best and brightest to your company.

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