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Understanding, attracting and retaining your millennial workforce

The 'new millennials' - or those born after the mid-1980s - think and act differently to previous generations. Attracting them is essential if your company needs to communicate with, and sell to, other millennial customers - as well as for a successful business future. Understanding them is the first step.

The depiction of today's 20-somethings as a generation of entitled, self-centred pleasure-seekers who live in the moment, expect instant gratification and can't take direction should be discarded by those who wish to attract the best young talent, according to a recent survey by Deloitte.

Millennials 'want to work for organizations that foster innovative thinking, develop their skills, and make a positive contribution to society,' says the company's 2014 Millennial Survey Report. They want businesses and governments to work harder together to address society's main challenges: resource scarcity, climate change, unemployment and income inequality.

Millennials want to work for companies that foster innovation, develop them as leaders and give them opportunities to make a difference. They support charities and see business, rather than Government, as the potential engineer of change. But for now they feel businesses fall short.

Nancy Altobello of Ernst & Young offered five ways to attract and retain young talent at a talk last month in New York:


  1. Keep the work interesting. Millennials don't want repetitive drudgery and will soon leave if the work does not keep them interested.
  2. Pay well. Although cash may not be their stated priority, millennials not living with their parents face higher monthly costs than any previous generation.
  3. Be flexibile about how and where they work. Millennials value making their own choices about how they work, and want to be judged on what they deliver, not how long they spend in the office.
  4. Give feedback. Millennials are used to instant information, and they want to know how they are doing and how to improve.
  5. Train them. Most graduates expect to be trained by their employer, and it's the most cost-effective way to improve the skills base of your workforce.

Acas publications and services

Acas training on Employing People - A practical introduction provides a training course in employing people to help new businesses get off to the right start and put sound policies in place.

Acas also offers Staff retention training looking at how to improve engagement and retain staff in your workforce.

For free, impartial advice on flexible working, call the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100. or consult Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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