Millennials’ message to HR

Reposted in part from SAP SuccessFactors

There is much information and research available on how millennials are different from previous generations and how these differences affect workplaces. We know each generation has their own uniqueness based on their social, political, financial and technological experiences. This intrigued us, so we recently surveyed and completed a focus group with millennials to test our theories and here are our insights:

  • First, we found that compensation and benefits are still the foundation to most employment decisions and the decision to stay at any given employer trends toward flexibility options and career growth.
  • The second theme was centered around why millennials work.
  • Lastly, trust and leadership are key factors with millennials.

Let’s hone in on the second theme – why millennials work.

How to differentiate from the pack and become the preferred employer of choice for Millennials

It was clear from our research that millennials work and make money to enjoy life.

Whether the outcome is in providing for family, acquiring things they treasure or to travel, the job provides the means to live the lives they want. All generations have this same drive one way or another.

What is different in motivation is that millennials have made it clear they want to work for organizations that do something that makes life better. They want assurance that their employer has a purpose “in the world.” This wish is usually not an employment deal breaker, but if given the choice, millennials will usually choose the employer that aligns best with their personal values and world views.

Other generations may have wanted to work for great companies, but this generation appears more passionate about a company’s purpose. Maybe this is because there have been so many organizations that have disappointed or disappeared due to bad business – and in the process laid off millions of employees. Many of us have been let go or know family members, friends or colleagues who have been separated. As millennials, many have experienced it firsthand with their own parents. Trust is a big deal, more than in the past.

So, millennials are different in that they don’t trust their employer as much as prior generations and with good reason and that motivates them to connect with a values based employer before they jump into a particular culture.


So, what does this mean for HR?

As you develop your HR strategies for the future, it will become more important to recognize what priorities are targeted for the entire workforce and where there are differences for each of the generations including millennials and the generations to follow.

Conclusions from the SAP SuccessFactors’ research are as follows:

  • A few workforce strategies are somewhat consistent across all or most generations and include:
    Compensation and benefits with a new focus on innovations in health and wellbeing.
  • Delivering fluid career management, learning and mentoring systems and workplace flexibility to improve engagement and retention.

Suggested HR strategies to enhance your value proposition for millennials:

  • Juice up and live your organizations’ mission, values, principles and purpose; be sure to communicate how all your actions align to your purpose.
  • Leaders need to build trust with transparency, visibility and constant communications; and the budget must be there and visibly obvious for investing in millennial (and all) talent.

There is fascinating research available on millennial buying habits. Look at the motorcycle industry, professional sports, or the housing market to see pronounced change with millennials. We would be wise in HR to recognize their buying nuances as these carry over into how they choose employers. Crafting and living a purpose based Employee Value Proposition is critical to attracting and retaining millennials … and just might work for your other employees as well!


Want to know more?

In HR Delivery in the Digital Age, we explore why HR organizations should consider replicating the low-cost customer experience across the workplace strategy, that is utilized by consumer companies today.