What Millennials Really Want from Employers

There are a lot of rumors going around that suggest millennials are notoriously hard to attract and even harder to keep. The post ’80s digital generation is more concerned with free time than work, demanding flexi-hours and remote working, they want to take longer holidays, they want better perks and bigger benefits, and so on. But is this really true, or is it all hot air?

What Do Millennials Really Want?

No one knows what millennials want better than the millennials themselves. While employers are taking stabs in the dark, wildly updating their Facebook feeds with photos of creativity in the workplace and bean bags in the office, PwC decided to just ask a group of millennials what they really want from their employers.

At the top of the list of what makes an employer attractive was opportunities for career progression, which 52% of the millennials cited as the most desirable quality. Shortly after, 44% valued competitive wages and financial incentives, while 35% felt that good training and development programs were essential.

These three criteria seem to me to be something that employers themselves would also desire for their companies. Being progressive, paying a fair wage, being in a position to give nice Christmas bonuses, and ensuring staff are working at their optimum levels of productivity thanks to training and development programs, should be what every boss wants for his team.

How to Retain Millennials

For a company that realizes the value of its employees, attracting millennials isn’t so difficult. Retaining millennials, however, is another story. By 2020, millennials will make up 50% of the workforce but unlike the generations before them they aren’t adverse to job hopping.

As many as 70% of millennials leave their first job within two years, and nearly six in 10 younger workers (57%) say that it’s unlikely that they will stay with their current employers for the remainder of their working life. Comparatively, 62% of Gen X say it’s likely they will never leave their current employer and 84% of boomers plan to stick by their current employer until retirement. The difference is drastic, but is this all down to the millennials?

Many critics of millennials are saying that the degradation of company loyalty is a crying shame and label it as a “generational” thing. A generational “thing” is certainly a part of it, but it’s not quite that simple. Let’s not forget that the job landscape is changing too. Staff turnovers are high in general, work contracts are increasingly temporary and/or short term, and our workforce is now more mobile than ever before.

If employers want to retain their millennials, they need to be loyal to them. Temporary contracts don’t inspire loyalty, and if anything they create a workforce that spends its time on tenterhooks, worried about short-notice job loss, rather than focused on the job at hand. Today’s mobility and willingness to commute also means workers aren’t restricted by their locale. If they can find a better job opportunity elsewhere, you can be sure that they’ll take it.

Value Your Whole Team

A company that realizes the value of its team is what really makes an attractive employer for millennials, baby boomers and Gen X-ers alike. Employers who can put themselves in the position of each of their employees and treat them as they would want to be treated already know the secret of attracting and retaining millennials.

About the Author: Ron Stewart has worked in the recruitment industry for 30 years, having owned companies in the IT, construction and medical sectors. He runs the Jobs4Group, and is CEO of Jobs4Medical.

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