Practical Advice To Help Employers Attract, Retain And Develop Millennial Workers

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By 2020, Millennials will make up over a third of the global workforce. The time is ripe for employers to take a fresh look at their people strategies to engage and employ this generation of digital entrepreneurs and innovators. As a prominent world of work experts, ManpowerGroup wanted to understand how different the Generation-Y is or isn’t from the rest of the workforce and wanted to set forth clear recommendations for employers on how to attract, retain, develop and motivate the best Millennials for the 21st century workforce.

ManpowerGroup commissioned thought leadership consultancy, Reputation Leaders to conduct a quantitative global study of 19,000 working Millennials and 1,500 hiring managers across 25 countries to understand what the Generation-Y wants now and in the future and what could help individuals and organizations in succeeding in this new world of work. Millennials were identified as those born between the years 1982 and 1996, ages 20-34.

The research population included an independent sample of 11,000 working Millennials equally balanced across age ranges and genders from 18 countries representing all regions. We wanted to ensure that the sample represented all working Millennials, not just the top percent of tech-savvy earners, but also the graduates and non-graduates across all industries, income and education levels. Hence, we also surveyed more than 8,000 ManpowerGroup Millennial associate employees for the research. Speaking to both these groups gave us unique perspectives from both employers and employees.

The fieldwork took place between February and April 2016. Participating countries included: Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Singapore, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In this extensive survey, we asked the respondents about what they look for in a job, what development opportunities they seek and what would make them stay with an employer. We asked millennials the following set of questions about their careers:
• How confident are you about your career and how much of a priority is skills development to you?
• How long do you think you’ll need to work and do you plan career breaks along the way?
• What does job security mean, how important is it to you and what would make you stay with an employer?

Here’s a brief summarization of the Manpower Millennial Careers: 2020 Vision Report with a coherent view at direct and insightful methods that organization can employ to attract and retain millennials:

Gauge and Reward Their Learnability

LEARNABILITY defines the desire and ability to quickly grow and adapt one’s skills to remain employable throughout one’s working life. As technological innovation changes the way work gets done, career success is increasingly determined by a person’s learnability. Employers need to recognize this trait and reward it among their Millennial employees. They need to nurture it to avoid losing out or lacking critical skills in their workforce.

This is due to the fact that, a vast majority of Millennials – 93% – see ongoing skills development as an important part of their future careers. They would pay for it personally and give up their own time to do it. Only 7% of Millennials have no interest in training.

There are, however, varying degrees of desire, capability and commitment to learning. Higher learnability correlates strongly with career success – being more educated, better prepared for employment and higher compensation. What’s more, people with high learnability tend to continue learning, so the benefits grow over time. Hence, it is essential for employers to gauge this attribute among candidates carefully. Highlighted below are the key traits that distinguish the degree of learnability among candidates:

gauging learnability

In the past, employers had more time, managers and resources to develop people. Today, they want faster time-to-value proposition and need to move people on and up from Potential to High Learner quicker. Understanding a person’s learnability potential is a key indicator of what they will need to succeed. Once quantified tangibly, employers can enhance the learnability among their Millennial employees based on their alacrity with the use of the following calibrations:

 reward learnability

Offer Career Security

Demonstrating that staying with the company can lead to career enhancement is crucial to retain Millennials. Employers should share examples of people who’ve progressed through training and on-the-job learning in your organization. Appeal to the Millennial aspiration of being more employable over the long-term.

Appreciate Your Millennials

Employers might consider maintaining a high-touch approach and offer frequent, face-to-face feedback, especially affirmation. Find new channels that encourage recognition and open a new conversation with managers and peers. It doesn’t cost anything and is an effective way to engage people in their roles.

Focus On Career Variety & Mobility

Create opportunities for Millennials to work on different projects with different teams to build experience and networks across the organization. Satisfy their appetite for new opportunities without them having to go elsewhere. Highlight the value of progression and not just promotion to build a portfolio of skills and experiences.

Be Ready To Ride The Career Waves

Anticipate breaks for personal reasons and know these go beyond traditional birthdays, honeymoons and elderly care. Recognize that lengthy careers mean that the time to re-tool and refuel is essential. Ride the career waves and make breaks an acceptable part of the company culture. Be clear what flexibility you can offer and help people re-enter the workforce when they return.

Have Regular Career Conversations

Check in with Millennials regularly about their career path and development. Rather than annual reviews, focus on near-term objectives and implement plans to achieve them. Use these conversations to connect how their work today will enhance their career prospects and longer-term employability. Consulting recruitment experts such as Manpower can help businesses improve their people practices and implement strategic workforce solutions that help organizations attract and retain millennials.

Be Open To Alternative Work Models

Millennials tend to prefer full-time work, but many are also open to alternatives like part-time, freelance or portfolio work. Adopt some of the attractive aspects of these models such as greater flexibility in where, when and how people work and a greater variety of projects, to attract and retain Millennials better.


Millennials are happy to disrupt and be disrupted. This comfort with disruption and openness to new ways of working may put pressure on employers to adopt more of the flexibility and varied work offered by alternative employment models. And, employers can’t afford not to appeal to the next generation.

The employer-employee relationship is changing. Employers have gone from being builders of talent to consumers of work. They need to get more creative. They need to figure out how to attract and inspire the best Millennials. Investing in training and creating ways to learn on the job and move around the organization is a sure way to make companies more attractive places to work. For more practical advice regarding the recruitment and retainment of the Generation-Y, consult our experts today.

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