With the shift to a knowledge economy, CEOs around the world now recognize more than ever that the success of their ventures is directly related to their workforce and that employees are the key value creators. A leader’s job today is to attract, develop, and enable its employees so that they can, in turn, build the business. This task poses a strategic challenge in a talent landscape that has become increasingly more competitive and complex. According to the figures from the latest PwC Annual Global CEO Survey and Universum’s 2020 Outlook Study, 38 percent of business leaders experience “extreme concern” over talent availability; almost 50 percent of C-Level executives say they are “unable” or “barely able” to hire the talent to meet their business needs; and 80 percent of CEOs are concerned about the availability of key skills.
There are several external reasons for this talent shortage, such as a shrinking pipeline, educational institutions failing to develop many of the skills businesses now require, government regulations that have resulted in the inability to tap into a pool of skilled foreign workers, and a competitive landscape that has dramatically changed over the last few years. However, other reasons do lie within an organization’s control. The interaction between job seekers and employers has shifted significantly over the last ten years. millennials know they have the power to choose where they wish to work, and it is the employer’s job to entice them amidst the tough competition. This is a primary source of stress for talent acquisition professionals who are feeling the mounting pressure not only to attract the right candidates, but to successfully develop, engage, and retain them once they walk through the door. And considering how much things have changed since the Baby Boomers dominated the workplace, this is no easy task.
Organizations that can deliver a strong candidate experience are 93 percent more likely to report significantly outperforming their industry peers financially
We all know by now that millennials take a completely different approach to their careers compared to the previous generations. Rather than personal prestige, they are motivated by a sense of belonging and purpose. They believe that work should be part of who they are and not just a way to make a living — and that the right job must align with their personality. Millennials are looking for a friendly, dynamic and inspiring work environment, with leaders who will support their development and allow them to be themselves in an organization that gives them a sense of meaning where they can achieve something bigger than their own personal goals. When millennials are searching for jobs, they are not looking at titles or salary ranges, they are looking for an Employer Brand that resonates with their individuality and one that reflects their values and ambitions and promises them plenty of opportunities for intellectual and personal development.
The reality is that, despite their best efforts, only a handful of organizations are able to offer this type of environment. Whilst HR and Marketing strive to convey a positive harmonious culture, once millennials join the workplace, conflicting expectations can be a source of tension between the different generations. Older employees often disapprove of the younger generations, making them incapable of providing the mentorship, leadership, and experience they so openly crave. On the other hand, millennials feel constrained by what they see as obsolete traditional working practices, believe that rigid hierarchies and outdated management styles fail to get the most out of them and that their managers don’t understand the way they use technology in their work. As a result, millennials often do not engage with the workplace, and their tenure with an employer is becoming shorter and shorter, primarily as a result of generational conflicts with their managers who fail to make the most of their skills and contribution.
The reason for their shortcomings can be easy to understand if one keeps into account the different generational contexts. For instance, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are conditioned to only expect feedback if they have done something wrong, and rarely if they have done something exceptionally well; millennials crave constant feedback in order to feel validated, but providing it does not come natural to older generations. As a result, millennials tend to reject authority and structure, bypass the chain of command in order to meet their own goals, create their own ladder, and their own individual paths to success. Finally, having grown up with constant connectivity, millennials feel constricted by the type of work environment older generations took for granted, such as fixed hours and location.
All this often leads to a dysfunctional workplace, where both old and young employees are frustrated and feeling voiceless and unappreciated. From a business perspective, this tension drains energy and motivation away from expanding the business and attracting new customers. The key to untangling this conflict is to start by acknowledging that beyond just dominating the workplace numerically, millennials will be taking on ever-increasing roles in senior leadership positions. The challenge most organizations will face is preparing millennials for these roles, which means that focus needs to be on mentoring and developing Millennial leaders. A good manager who can liaise between generational differences will empower all employees by creating an open-minded and inclusive environment where everybody has a voice. Focusing on each employee’s individual strength and taking the time to understand their priorities and goals will go a long way to making them feel valued for their contribution. Establishing a fair and transparent system of performance evaluation can also help employees see that their efforts are recognized and appreciated. Another valuable strategy is to draw employees together outside of work, so they can foster a team spirit and greater appreciation of each other’s differences.
Recruiting the right talent nowadays is like finding the right partner, so it is critical to align candidates with the right cultural fit during the hiring process; having a sense of purpose, feeling empowered and connected to the rest of the organization leads to happy and engaged employees and significantly lowers the cost-per-hire. Furthermore, there are significant financial benefits in fostering a harmonious working environment. Engaged employees have markedly lower turn-over rates and show much higher productivity that can lead to a 2x revenue growth and profit margin increase. Overall, organizations that can deliver a strong candidate experience are 93 percent more likely to report significantly outperforming their industry peers financially.
Engaged employees have markedly lower turn-over rates and show much higher productivity that can lead to a 2x revenue growth and profit margin increase
If you are one of the industry professionals experiencing “extreme concern” over talent availability, start by asking yourself if your internal reality would appeal to the talent you wish to attract and how this talent currently views your organization. Remember that millennials will overlook any opportunity to work for an employer that does not have a strong Employer Brand, no matter how enticing the job description, because they want to understand the vision, values and culture before considering it a place to work. At the same time, they will actively turn down opportunities to work for an employer that has a stale or demoralizing work environment or leaders who are uninspiring and incapable of engaging and getting the best out of them.
While a strong and positive Employer Brand works like a magnet, drawing talent in your direction so you have a wider choice of skilled candidates for key roles, it is only by walking the talk that you will be able to retain employees who reflect your organization’s values and goals thus creating a strong and motivated workforce.