Creating a work environment to attract, retain millennial talent

Written by Caroline Dowd-Higgins. Posted in Featured

Published on September 28, 2016 with No Comments

During a recent Uber ride in Chicago my forty-something-aged driver enthusiastically shared why he loves his contract work career. He creates his own hours, has total flexibility, and can control how he earns money based on how much he works. The “Gig Economy” represents those who make their living in a non-traditional way. They are not limited to a classic 9-5 work scenario and have more control in how they pursue work on a freelance basis.

This autonomy also means saying goodbye to salaries and company benefits like retirement, health insurance, and paid vacation days. It’s a personal choice, and a study from Intuit predicts that by 2020, 40 percent of US workers will fall into this category.

Accenture Strategy released a 2016 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study that indicates only one in seven college graduates wants to work for a large company. They fear they will be lost in the labyrinth of large company politics and advancement. The study also shows that after only two years in the work force, many new professionals felt disillusioned, underemployed, and undervalued.

The Accenture Strategy Study revealed that the newest generation of workers has distinctive needs and expectations from the organizations where they work. They want a more personalized employee experience, an open and engaging company culture, and meaningful work. If large companies expect to attract and retain the best and the brightest talent, they need to offer a distinctively different employee experience.

The Class of 2016 chose majors and academic degrees at university based on a passion for an area(s) of study. Accenture Strategy reported that only 23 percent of 2016 graduates in the study chose a major based on how much money they would make.

The widespread belief that millennials are serial job hoppers is also inaccurate, since 69 percent of this year’s grads expect to stay with their first job for at least three years. One third indicated they would stay for five years or longer.

With the widespread disillusionment of the workplace for new grads, many feel the proverbial large company is the culprit. In their quest to find the “Me” experience, new grads want to work for either medium-sized business or small, start-up ventures. They are looking for a place where their passions will be acknowledged and their career paths can be customized to their strengths and interests.

It’s clear that in order to attract and retain top millennial talent, organizations of all sizes must provide multiple career paths and varied, engaging experiences. The linear career trajectory of upward mobility via the archaic ladder is no longer the only option. New talent is more interested in trying new things until they find the best fit. In the best-case scenario they want the opportunity to be flexible and grow within their chosen organization.

In 2020, millennials will comprise 50 percent of the workforce, so companies of all sizes must adapt in order to attract and retain top talent. Let’s not forget this generation is the succession plan for the retiring workforce and represent today’s emerging leaders.

While the Gig Economy may be very attractive to some, 55 percent of new grads, according to the Accenture Strategy Study, are looking for stability and a long-term commitment from their employer. They want the company benefits of insurance, retirement, and paid time off. They also want opportunities to advance within the organization.

The Accenture Strategy Study created tips for organizations that want to design company cultures that accelerate growth and fulfill the passions of young professionals, while meeting the demands of complex businesses.

Hyper-personalize Your Strategy – customize talent strategy based on an individualized approach.

Orient employee value proposition, hiring, and career paths toward a dynamic work environment – create a more agile workforce by being flexible with different roles and experiences.

Connect employees’ work to the purpose of the organization – offer a more fulfilling employee experience.

Re-imagine the learning and development experience – support talent with coaching and developmental opportunities that are more frequent, informal and experiential.

Think “agile” – talent strategy must be flexible and nimble to pivot based on need and problem solving.

Provide a small-team feel – create a sense of ownership and empowerment with personal attention.

To gig, or not to gig? In order for large corporate entities to thrive in the years to come, they must adapt to the changing needs and desires of the youngest candidate pool. No matter how old you are, the internal gig experience can benefit you as well.


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About Caroline Dowd-Higgins

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" (now in the 2ndedition) and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Vice President of Career Coaching and Employer Connections for the Ivy Tech Community Collegesystem and contributes to Huffington PostThrive GlobalEllevate Network,Mediumand The Chronicle newspaper in Indiana.Her online show:Thrive!about career & life empowerment for women is on YouTube. Caroline hosts the award winning podcast, Your Working Lifeon iTunesand SoundCloud. Follow her on FacebookLinkedIn,Google+,and Twitter.

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