Millennials - Just like us only younger

We hosted our last CEO lunch of 2017 in December which was attended by a broad church of CEOs. The after lunch discussion focussed on the attraction & retention issues in relation to a growing Millennial work force and how businesses were responding.

 

In our final CEO event of 2017, we focused our discussion on Millennials in the work place.

According to the recent Deloitte Millennial Survey, key findings highlighted that in general Millennials express little loyalty to their current employers, yet represent an increasing share of the workforce. According to the survey, in the UK, over 70% said they expected to move on from their current employer within the next two years and the same number said they were unhappy with how their leadership skills were being developed.

We asked our CEO guests what key challenges their businesses faced to attract Millenials and how they would encourage Millenials to stay.

Millennials are not afraid to leave their jobs after 2-3 years. However, they are only likely to change for at least a 30% increase in package, including creative perks.

Our first contributor, the CEO of an organisation working with a number of different companies in the North of England was of the opinion that Millennials were not afraid to move jobs and when they did, they looked for a boost in salary but also additional perks; such as flexible working, home working or an unrestricted working area. Shrinking distances and the use of technology, means they are not tied to one location. 


In essence, “the sense of belonging and flexibility will help retain them. Also the rewards they get are based on results, not just hours worked.” He believed key to maintaining a stable workforce of Millennials was to give them more 1:1 time with their managers on a regular basis and access to the Executive team. What he also felt was clear was that all businesses need to be able to provide roles/opportunities that give Millenials a real purpose.

When the oldest person on the team makes the most and contributes the least the message is that performance does not matter.

Another CEO from a global technology company, said they encouraged its employees to visit local international offices when on vacation, by offering one day back from their vacation time and pay for the hotel for that night. This encourages their people to seek out diverse oppportunities and explore different cultures.

A CEO guest spoke of his experience of having three Millenial daughters. His view was that they were hell bent on acquiring knowledge and that their loyalty to an employer was dependent on whether or not they had soaked up enough information and if their employer empowered them to use that information whilst completing their day to day roles.

Another CEO guest from the Construction Sector outlined that in his experience Millenials need to feel they are making a difference. They are more likely to have loyalty to a purpose rather than a company. The company they work for needs to be aligned with their own passions and interests such as community, environment etc. Importantly, this needs to be clearly communicated throughout the company.

Millennials need to feel they are making a difference. They are more likely to have loyalty to a purpose rather than a company.

Another guest, a CEO who specialises in the food-on-the-go sector, latched onto the topic of attraction and the need to influence schools and parents. He positioned it as will it pass the “Mum Test”? Would your industry, company or the role be recommended by their mother just as lawyers and accountancy firms used to be?

To attact the right Millenial, it is important to avoid gimmicks. They need to find work that they value. Any company should engage future employees through work experience, weekend and temporary jobs to nuture curiosity and the desire to explore new things. 

They need to have a constant flow of communication with their managers.

A final consideration in his experience is when recruiting; speed is of the essence. Do not waste time deliberating the pros and cons otherwise the Millennial will be off!  It is good to be open to unusual requests - that is not to say that you have to bow down to every whim, just to look at requests with an open mind.


One of our guests, a CEO of a fashion retailer outlined that 60% of their workforce are Millenials. In this modern environment new skills emerge as fast as others become extinct. Employability is less about what they know already and more about their ability to learn. Opportunity to learn new skills is at the forefront of Millennial career planning. The employer needs to allow them to use the new skills that they learn as they are looking to be creative. The leader not only has to help provide the answers but needs to question too.

A CEO from a major utilities company commented that you cannot wrap them in cotton wool. They need to be put in harms way; a reality check to allow them to find their own way through.

Do not hold them back. Telling them they are not ready to do something does not help. Let them do it and learn.

Millennials are used to instant feedback through social media. They have been raised with more encouragement and feedback than previous generations, therefore formal bi-annual reviews are not going to cut it! The trick is to not to micromanage but “touching base” makes them feel valued. For example, if there is a problem, sending a message on instant messaging will mean it can be resolved straight away.

One of the great advantages of Millennials is that they are new thinkers. They are not held back by traditional ways of looking at things.  One CEO mentioned a young member of the team who was invited into senior board meetings to help challenge the status quo. They want to see a development process and not just sit and wait for the boss to leave.

It is vital for them to see the potential for growth. The traditional corporate ladder model no longer works, the career path can easily be a matrix.

To help with this, traditional management roles need to be challenged. There needs to be someone to mentor and coach them and then someone who can tell them what they should be doing. Their “boss” is not necessarily someone older than them.

Millennials want to work with the latest technology. They expect their employers to leverage technology to its full potential and to eliminate unnecessary tasks to maximise their productivity. The flow of information is vital. Not just traditional e-mail or telephone but instant messaging too. Of course, structure and policy is important but it should not be set in concrete.

The CEO of a major property group said a key factor for the modern day CEO is to embrace positive disruption.

It has been predicted that 65% of children starting school today will eventually do jobs that currently do not exist.

Basically they are the same as us. All the things we have discussed so far, we wanted too, the difference is, Millennials are not afraid to push their leaders. You don't need to tread in the shoes of a Millennial to know that they are like any generation and not the homogenous set they are often reported to be.

They are all individuals, there is no one answer, no one-size-fits-all approach. The onus is on the employer to understand what makes the individual tick.

You don't have to keep up... Just keep open minded.

He added that it is not about relegating the CEOs to the side-lines and letting Millennials steamroll their way into the corner office! It is also not about bending to self-entitlement or handing out favours. It is about tapping into the incredibly powerful core strengths of Millennials and opening up to the countless possibilities for the future.

In conclusion there is an impending generational paradigm shift to the way in which Millennials view work and what they demand of it. To become or remain an organisation of choice for a  Millennial workforce, todays leaders should be open-minded to the new ways of working that Millennials desire, as they might be good for all of us.