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Managing the Modern Workforce

Organizations need to shift traditional thinking in order to attract and retain Millennials.

By Colleen Albright

With the recent emergence of the young, motivated and savvy Millennials, there have been several rapid changes to traditional workplace expectations. Young professionals are shaking off old trends and driving their careers based on what fits their personality, values, and lifestyle.

As the nation’s economy continues to recover and drive a healthier workforce, the balance of power has shifted in favor of the job seeker. Business leaders are not only looking to experts to help attract and retain the elusive Millennials -they are depending upon them. According to the 2015 Millennial Majority Workforce study commissioned by Elance-oDesk, more than half of hiring managers say they have difficultly finding and retaining Millennials, yet only 21 percent prioritize a personal fit over hard skills.

It’s becoming clear that old strategies are no longer effective and the time has come for a paradigm shift. There are several marketplace trends to help businesses harness Millennial talent by adjusting their hiring strategies to focus on workplace culture.

Hire for Fit, Train for Skill

At the end of the day, most businesses understand that people are their most valuable asset. An organization’s brand and success is built by the people who work within their walls. While solid management and a good business plan are critical, it is the team that executes the work, gets results, and builds a loyal base of employees. For this reason, employing a “hire for fit, train for skill” strategy is now becoming the competitive differentiator for companies’ hiring practices.

Even if a candidate does not bring the exact degree or work experience the position calls for, they may still be the right person for the role. Hiring managers who invest in candidates with the right soft skills, like adaptability, stability, willingness to learn, team fit, and integrity, are seeing it pay off when they end up with employees trained to company’s specifications paired with good work habits specific to their brand.

This approach saves time and effort down the road and allows hiring managers to choose the candidate that best fits their company culture rather than the one who looks best on paper. After all, technical skills can be taught, and people are more than the words on a resume.

As the demand for top talent increases and the pool of viable talent remains limited, it is crucial that hiring managers know how to attract and retain employees that will fit the company’s culture -not just possess the right hard skills. But tradition reins and HR managers are often lured into hiring candidates whose resume checks off the right boxes. Focusing more on the long term and fit will produce individuals who are suited to their environment, are more productive, and likely to stay longer, which in turn leads to lasting value for organizations.

More than ever before, companies need to be deliberate and open about their culture and to cultivate the type of environment that they aspire to have. The best way to achieve workplace culture is to have the right people in the right seats with strong leadership to form policies and practices central to the organization’s mission. Achieving ideal company culture is an ongoing goal objective. Once you have secured the right professionals in the right seat, it is important to listen and be responsive to keep them happy and engaged in your company.

The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2015 recognizes this shift. Its findings reveal that Millennials believe businesses should focus on people and purpose rather than products and profits. By listening to employees and making the right cultural moves over time, organizations can attract thoughtful and engaged employees -and ensure that they stay and build their careers.

Millennial Motivators

Millennials want more than a paycheck, and are willing to turn down job offers and wait for the right fit. In fact, a Millennial Branding study that found that 45 percent of Millennials will choose workplace flexibility over pay. Yet with a track record of changing jobs every few years, Millennials have made it difficult for employers to get a pulse on what they really want. Today’s professionals want a more individually tailored experience, one that a positive impact on the world around them. Some of their most valued motivators:

  • Clear opportunities for advancement. Young professionals are very candid about the importance of advancement. They are savvy about their career, and want to see the time and effort they have invested in their career pay off with promotions through the company.
  • Managers that are mentors, not bosses. This generation seeks experiences that enrich their personal and professional lives -they value leadership who will guide them throughout their career, share their knowledge, and offer feedback on an individual level.
  • Professional development and continuing education. Overwhelmingly, Millennials value higher education and care about learning new skills, improving as an individual, and keeping up to date on new technology trends and changes in their industry.

The modern workforce is currently undergoing a significant evolution, and as a result, traditional recruiting is doing the same. It is no longer realistic to hire a young professional and expect them to stay for the entire length of their career. Companies need to evaluate their culture and recognize the different values and aspirations that Millennials bring to their work. Millennials are in a position to wait for a company whose culture and values reflect their own -and are not afraid to leave their current role when they no longer feel these needs are being met.

This is the time for hiring managers to evaluate their strategies and focus on cultural preferences in order to attract and retain the right people. More than anything, Millennials want to be heard. Business leaders who are willing to listen will be able to build a strong, educated, and innovative employee base who will invest their time and energy to provide lasting value to the bottom line.


Colleen Albright is the founder, president and CEO of culturecliQ.

Tags: July August 2015

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