how onboarding attracts the best millennial talent

How Onboarding Attracts the Best Millennial Talent

Written By: Rich Mesch

August 19, 2017 – 5 min read

How do you attract, onboard, and retain the best, most talented millennials? It all starts with your Employment Brand, how the outside world perceives you as a corporate employer. For the job-searching talented millennial, this even includes your ethical stance and your sense of social responsibility. As a company, you will have focused heavily on your corporate brand and its offer of value to potential customers – your employment brand is your offer of value to potential new employees. Onboarding drives your Employment Brand, impacts first impressions of your company, and can drive job satisfaction. 

Who Are Millennials and How Do You Attract Them?

Millennials, known also as Generation Y, are the offspring of Baby Boomers and even members of Generation X (their predecessors), defined by their seemingly instinctive grasp of digital technology and communications, and their understanding of the media world. They are true Digital Natives, having never known a world without computers and the internet. And by 2020, they will make up one-third of the workforce.

There is a lot of misinformation about Millennials. For example, Millennials would prefer, like previous generations, to advance within the company of their choice, and are not the “job-hoppers” they are sometimes perceived to be. According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey: Winning Over The Next Generation Of Leaders and the ManpowerGroup’s Millennial Careers: 2020 Vision, “The Millennial’s Wish List” (in order of importance) is:

  1. Money
  2. Job Security
  3. Holidays & Time Off
  4. Great People
  5. Flexibility

Those motivations are probably shared by a lot of non-millennials, too. Now let’s look at the Millennial’s career aspirations:

  • A clear career development path
  • Opportunity creation to meet new skills
  • Regular check-ins (not the usual annual reviews)
  • Affirmation, e.g. face-to-face feedback
  • Anticipation and facilitation of meeting personal needs
  • Flexible working practices

Meeting these aspirations is key to enhancing your employment brand, and marketing your company to the best millennial talents out there. 

How Onboarding Closes the Deal 

Getting them in the door is just the first challenge. Now you’ve got them, how do you keep them? You need an effective onboarding system, one that highlights the way in which your company values your team members. By doing so, you create a positive impression, and a successful employment brand, which will entice future employee prospects to make that same journey. Your employment brand starts before your first contact, but long-term begins on Day #1. Effective onboarding includes:

  • First Contact: If you want to make new hires feel valued and happy about their choice, make contact between offer acceptance and the first day of work. A short video welcoming them, a box with some company swag—anything you can think of that says “we’re happy you’re here.”
  • Preparation: Make sure everything is ready to go on Day 1; no apologies for “your computer isn’t set up yet,” or “just sit here until we find you a workspace.” Extra points for setting up meetings or lunches with co-workers.
  • Vision and Culture Immersion: Millennials want to believe they’ve arrived someplace special. Show them you believe that, too, and immerse them in what is core to the company. As Forbes Magazine’s William Vanderbloemen observes, “the original intent behind a company’s beginning is critical to what it will continue to be.”
  • Consistent & Clear Communication: Set near-term objectives, and explain fully the company’s expectations and parameters.
  • Learning Resources: As a signal of intent, provide such resources straight away. Start with personal and professional growth – a clear indication that the company cares about their development and future advancement.

Those steps can create a great first impression. How do you keep it going? 

Maintain Engagement Through “Learnability” Remember the phrase “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” The millennial’s response to this? “No, it is what you know.” Millennials place skills way above connections, and they certainly understand the concept of learnability, or “the desire and ability to quickly grow and adapt one’s skill set to remain employable throughout their working life.” A millennial considered as learning-agile understands that new skills are imperative to their personal goals. It’s your job to keep them engaged

Opportunities to Use New Skills Opportunity creation, a clear millennial aspiration, needs to be continually demonstrated by the company. Such opportunities are a direct response to the millennial’s newly-enhanced skill set, giving them a way in which they can demonstrate their new abilities by performing new tasks competently. 

Constant and Calculable Progression On Day #1, your new millennial was given learning resources on the topic of personal and professional growth. By doing so, you have shown this is as important to the company as it is to them. Therefore, the onus remains on the company to continually provide feedback on their career advancement, a statement of their progression. 

Tangible and Intangible Rewards Like most people, a millennial wants fair and appropriate compensation for the work they have undertaken. They also want a company to provide other tangible rewards, in terms of career enhancement, the placing of value on what is offered to the company, and an employer who understands the personal needs of the millennial – the social responsibility element.

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