How to make your workplace irresistible to Millennials

How can businesses, especially those that lack a funky, modern brand, make their workplaces attractive to ambitious and talented young Millennials?

Millennials sitting together on a bench
This article is taken from a series surrounding Relocate’s Festival of Global Mobility Thinking on 11 May 2018. The highly successful, interactive event included speakers such as Prof Dr Dimitry Kochenov, author of the Henley & Partners Quality of Nationality Index (QNI); and Dr Linda Holbeche, author of The Agile Organization. For more information and to find out how you can get involved in this unique event next year, contact: 
It’s a question that vexes many companies. Millennials are restless in career terms and used to shopping around. Many employers, especially those with an “old fashioned” brand, find them hard to recruit. They are also difficult to retain, and they may move on if they don’t find the opportunities or experiences they are seeking.

Engaging millenials in the workplace

Deloitte Consulting LLP, has researched this issue and has developed ConnectMe, a cloud-based, digital workplace product to help engage Millennials and other workers. Much of the research is based on Deloitte’s five-point blue-print which, it believes, creates an “simply irresistible” working environment.Marc Solow, a managing director in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital consulting practice explains that there are five important loyalty factors:
  1. A meaningful work experience – the opportunity to work in small empowered teams, with an emphasis on unstructured time
  2. Supportive management who can provide clear and transparent goals
  3. A positive work environment, where the workplace has a humanistic element, is fair and inclusive and there is a diverse workforce
  4. Opportunities for growth – training and support provided on the job and the chance to develop professionally
  5. Trust in leadership – the feeling that the company has a mission and a purpose. There must be transparency and honesty from management and an inspirational purpose to the work that is one.
“These qualities of a workplace environment really resonate with Millennials,” he says. “We call this a “simply irresistible” workplace – it is the model of an organisation that would combine the best and most appealing features to an employee.Offering people more pay is not the main driver - it comes third or fourth on people’s list, he says. Different types of employees may also be motivated in different ways that a “one size fits all” reward system would not recognise. Sales people are high achievers who want to close the deal and get paid, while creatives and people who work in customer services or product design might have a different motivation at work.
So why aren’t all organisations offering this type of employee experience? It has to do with corporate inertia and that can be a hard thing to change.“Without the right level of leadership driving changes in an organisation, it is not going to be easy to get there,” Mr Solow says. “All companies have some level of inertia, but some big companies are very agile, so it is not about size.”
Find out more about the Festival of Global Mobility Thinking where we will explore innovation, transformational leadership and agility:
For example, businesses specialising in high technology and digital services are among the most agile, while one of our clients in the car industry has undergone radical change, moving its outlook from that of a manufacturing automotive industry to a mobility company. In order to change, you need executive sponsorship and a management team who can communicate effectively with staff and convey what needs to change and why.“Management needs to put forward the business case for change,” he says. “How will this impact staff? They need to know they are going to be measured in this new world. Employees don’t resist change, but they don’t like ambiguity and they may assume the worst.”The CEO needs to communicate a clear and unambiguous vision. They also need to take the lead in innovation. Mr Solow cites one client in the tech industry who has discarded PowerPoint as a business tool and insisted that staff read prose documents and comment on them as a collaborative exercise instead.

Intergrating digital innovation in the workplace

He points out that for many employees, the seamless world of mobile technology, apps that make daily tasks simpler and easier, and always-on information, is lacking in the workplace.“Outside the workplace everything we do is digital – the apps on our mobile devices provide anything we want, at the touch of our fingertips,” he says. “In the workplace it is the total opposite. It is hard to communicate and get things done.”For the employee, this experience is particularly acute when they are relocated outside their home country and have a long list of financial, social, housing, work and immigration tasks to fulfil.“Companies can’t look at HR as a series of tasks – they have to pull it all together to create an experience which is comparable to our experiences outside the workplace,” Mr Solow explains.“For an employee who has an assignment overseas, the level of change that they have to cope with is immense. They are moving their family to a new city, culture, language and moving their children into new schools and it can be a very stressful time.”He says that it is important to nurture these high potential, highly talented individuals, and companies need to take as much friction out of the process for them as possible. “We estimate that 10 to 15 per cent of the workforce is moving – that includes short six-month assignments to much longer times,” he says. “It is a global lifecycle. These staff are preparing for their assignment, sorting out taxes, going home for visits, preparing for the next role, finding another place to live – it is an evolving life cycle that generally plays out over three to five years.”What’s needed is a seamless digital hub where everything is brought into one place and is mobile-enabled so people can use it while they are on the move. “As a result, we developed a product called ConnectMe which provides such a hub,” he says. 

New ways of working

Is it possible for an employer to offer the flexibility of freelance work with the stability of employment? Deloitte’s survey of 8,000 millennials questioned across 30 countries, concluded that for many, that would be the ideal way to work.
They are looking for greater opportunities to work remotely, with the option to structure their own working hours. Employers may need to look again at the way they assign roles and hierarchies – today’s young employee would prefer to build a job around their skill set rather than have their employer give them a pre-prepared role.Long career breaks, part time work, and entrepreneurship are all high on the agenda for today’s young workers – and play an important part in decision-making when they are looking for a new job. 

Why culture and purpose matter

For young employees, it’s not all about the money, either. The culture of an organisation is as important as the remuneration. Only when they believe in the mission of the company, and feel that they can fit into and embrace its culture, can young employees see themselves as having a fulfilling career there.According to Glassdoor, Google is now the most desirable place to work in the UK, with parent support, free time and free meals being most valued by employees. It also offers medical, dental and travel expenses, and an employee share scheme.Intuit in the US not only pays into employees’ 401k plans, it also provides gym membership, a mental wellbeing programme, employee share scheme and matching donation to good causes – all to foster a sense of wellbeing at work.The best qualified and most attractive employees have a truly global outlook, but the skills and experience needed for this new, young, world of work is not evenly spread across the world.The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Human Capital Report 2017 defines “human capital” not individuals themselves but the knowledge and skills they possess that enable them to create value in the global economic system.It takes as an example the boom in ICT talent, which is not equally distributed across countries and generations. “Economies such as Sweden, Australia, the United States, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have relatively more mature ICT talent. Others—such as Lithuania, Brazil, Romania and Estonia—have predominantly young pools of ICT talent,” the report says.For related news and features, visit our Human Resources section. Find out more about our Relocate AwardsRelocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory 

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