Purpose and Performance: Recruiting Millennials

It’s coming: The era of the millennials. With an aging workforce in Australia, this rising demographic makes up a more substantial and important segment of the working population.

As baby boomers retire en masse, the hiring landscape will be more competitive for the millennials who need to fill their shoes. Generation Y will constitute about 75 percent of the world’s workforce in 10 years, according to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2014 report.

Not only is this age group smaller than the boomers – heightening the challenge of acquiring key talent – it’s also characterized by a number of unique tendencies and preferences. In fact, the generational shift in employees is tied for first among factors affecting organizations’ workforce strategies, identified as a top concern by 51 percent of enterprises, Oxford Economics found.

Millennials, or those born roughly between the 1980s and early 2000s, have been in the spotlight for a number of years now, with analysts and commentators assessing their attributes, habits and peculiarities. Although some early generalizations have been found false, businesses should take a look at what their rising candidate pool seeks so they can better engage, attract and retain the talent they need to keep their operations running smoothly.

So, what do the members of Generation Y want, and how can companies adapt to recruit people with the right skill sets?


Being on board with the company’s mission and values is a key indicator of employee engagement – and it’s something that’s even more important to millennials than previous generations. Multiple studies have shown that Generation Y cares deeply about having a sense of purpose in their work, with their organizations’ visions and social impact a factor in their career decisions.

For example, Deloitte’s recent Millennial Survey found that 60 percent of Generation Y workers chose their current employer because of a ‘sense of purpose’. Respondents expressed greater concern for creating jobs and having an impact on society than they thought businesses were actually doing.

Similarly, Hays Australia’s research indicated that Australian and New Zealand millennials are ‘socially aware,’ ‘moral’ and ‘ambitious’ – though they don’t always know how to attain their goals. Almost three-fourths (72 percent) said they would decline to apply for a job with a company that stands for something they don’t believe in, while 90 percent asserted that an organization’s reputation or brand shaped their decision to work for it.

In light of these characteristics, enterprises may be able to attract millennials by strengthening and enforcing their values and missions, connecting with candidates in the context of core values.


Generation Y also tends to place more emphasis on feedback and workplace relationships. Therefore, company culture is a key player in attracting and retaining talented millennials.

Jill Maguire, General Assembly’s Chief People Person, observed that the next generation of employees want regular feedback and guidance to become better at their jobs, according to LinkedIn contributor Ritika Puri. Mentoring opportunities as well as the space to socialize and collaborate can be appealing to many millennials.

Top enterprises like Google and Facebook are known for their creative, social work environments, providing a place where workers ideally enjoy their time on the job and have resources to thrive. Technology, from intranets to talent analytics, also offer ways for employees to connect with each other or more easily receive feedback about how they’re doing and ways they can improve.

On a related note, leveraging social networks can be a great recruitment strategy, as Business Insider observed. Not only do these platforms help to spread awareness of openings through connections with friends, they’re also a great way for companies to put on a “human face” and build a more personable, relatable image with members of the rising workforce. As a whole, recruiters can often drive better outcomes by nurturing relationships with candidates right from the start.


Millennials are extremely career-focused, as research from firms like Hays has found. They want opportunities and resources to develop their skills and advance in their professional lives.

Showing job candidates strong possibilities and paths for rising through the ranks or honing their talents could help to draw applications. PricewaterhouseCoopers found that millennials want training and the chance to advance, so focusing on developing less tenured workers could also improve retention – in addition to streamlining talent management and succession efforts.

A comprehensive perspective

Learning ways to recruit and retain millennials will help organizations better prepare for the future, a time that’s nearly upon us. However, it’s equally important to continue to engage older generations of workers, particularly within the scope of an integrated workforce.

Although the aging population will bring about a ‘retirement tsunami’ over the next few years, Australians are working longer than in the past. Consequently, many companies will need to manage up to five generations of workers at a single time, according to Hays Research.

As a result, having a strategic, agile approach to talent management will be just as important as honing recruitment strategies to reach millennials. In addition to developing the next set of new hires, companies can leverage talent analytics and performance management tools to keep workers of all ages engaged as well as facilitate the transfer of knowledge from more experienced employees to new teammates.

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