Attracting and retaining talent begins with the ability to listen. Listen to the people who drive your success. Understand their views and priorities. Act on what you learn. Companies struggle with these simple principles for forging relationships with employees, but no talent strategy can succeed without attention to the basics.
An understanding of the basic views of talent is essential to driving an effective employee value proposition, the value proposition that answers the question, “Why would an employee want to work for the company?” To be effective in attracting Millennial and Gen Z talent, the employee value proposition must align with their needs – including needs that may differ from those of older generations.
Today, companies recognize the challenges of employee value proposition and talent attraction of the generations new to the workforce. For example, nearly three-fourths (71 percent) of Millennial and Gen Z HR decision-makers in an Allegis Group survey say they would struggle to attract and retain workers in their generations if they fail to deliver desired benefits. Examples of cited benefits include tuition reimbursement, diversity and inclusion (D&I) programs, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
The concerns of HR decision-makers center on two major Millennial and Gen Z expectations and areas where employee value proposition alignment is essential. These include incentives often overlooked in the past, as well as a focus on corporate citizenship in the eyes of generations of workers who are both highly diverse and socially aware.
Sixty-nine percent of HR decision-makers in the same Allegis Group survey claim their organizations struggle to deliver specific incentives embraced by Millennial and Gen Z workers, reaching beyond healthcare and vacation policy, and extending to detailed areas such as career development, flexibility in work style and scheduling, and creative perks.
When considering an employer, Millennials and Gen Zs are more likely to value the ability to move their careers forward. In fact, 87 percent of Millennials rate career growth as important to their jobs, compared to 69 percent of non-Millennials who hold this view. For employers, improving the visibility to new opportunities for career growth within the organization can go a long way toward boosting the company’s employee value proposition and its overall reputation in the eyes of Millennials and Gen Zs.
A growing number of employers are boosting their career development focus, offering a host of programs such as flex scheduling, mentorships, workplace and wellness perks, innovation autonomy, and executive face-time. These improvements are aimed at helping companies compete for Millennials and Gen Zs, who are focused on independence and career advancement.
Likewise, some employers are boosting engagement by increasing the frequency of promotions. Rather than a long, multi-year period between a junior- and principal-level role, the organization may opt for interim steps such as junior, assistant, and associate.
While frequent advancement helps to promote successful career development, organizations are finding that Millennials and Gen Zs are also concerned with accomplishments rather than titles as a gauge of success. In addition, celebrating and recognizing the success of a project or initiative can boost the career development message of the employer in the eyes of Millennials and Gen Zs. In either case, when a prospective candidate hears about a successful project or promotion from workers within the company (through social media or word of mouth), that company is likely to become more attractive to that candidate.
Data from studies over the last five years support an increased emphasis by Millennials on flexibility among employers. Among the findings: most Millennials (74 percent) believe flexible work schedules are important considerations for choosing an employer. Gen Z workers also value flexibility to allow work and learning throughout their careers. This is particularly important for the many Gen Zs who join the workforce early and pursue online college programs as opposed to attending a full-time college and potentially acquiring debt.
Many employers have taken certain steps to become more flexible in their job requirements and their relationships with employees, but no organization can expect to implement all the strategies available. Instead, an effective approach is to assess the available best practices and then prioritize their implementation to align with the organization’s unique business situation.
One approach to flexibility is to rethink the traditional nine-to-five schedule as well as allowing more options for remote working. By showing that an employee can switch in or out of work at any time, the employer then measures and celebrates accomplishment, instead of attendance, as a gauge of employee performance. For Millennials and Gen Zs, work experience and achieving goals takes precedence over onsite presence, and the employee value propositionthat conveys this value will appeal to a wider portion of the worker population.
Another form of flexibility pertains to work style, as many professionals prefer to operate as contractors or freelancers instead of traditional, permanent employees. Depending on their skills and experience, both Millennial and Gen Z workers often have the means to survive and thrive as flexible workers. For example, 43 percent of Millennials and 47 percent of those ages 18-21 did freelance work in 2016.
While freelance and contract work styles have always been an option, many workers today are embracing them as a matter of choice. As a result, the flexible, non-employee portion of the workforce is larger, more highly skilled, and more central to business success than ever before. Not surprisingly, companies are evolving to better accommodate both traditional employees and flexible workers through a total talent strategy. In the most mature talent function, they are treated as equals with employees. They have the opportunity to grow and advance, and they are recognized for their performance.
Employers have also developed many creative perks that appeal to Millennials and Gen Zs. A given perk is not necessarily a fit for every organization, but by understanding the types of choices available, talent planners can explore and implement the options that are right for them.
To learn more about how today’s talent acquisition leaders are building better relationships with the newest generations to enter the workforce, download our free report, “Employers, It’s Time to Grow up: Engaging the Millennial and Gen Z Workforce” today.