The Workplace for Millennials: How to Attract and Retain Talent by Tesco talent Director

The Workplace for Millennials: How to Attract and Retain Talent by Tesco talent Director

Price Bailey, 21 June 2016 

In our recent research with Ipsos Mori we discovered that the second highest concern for business leaders (behind finding new customers) was finding and retaining the right talent. One participant in the research was quoted saying, “when we have great staff who move on, we need to start all over again”.

So we decided to take a look at the approach to recruiting and retaining the newer generation of “millennials” and how businesses can adjust their culture not only to keep staff on board but greatly improve their performance too.

As reported on by the BBC earlier this year, Virgin Group made staff go back in time for what they called “a corporate day” with staff behaving in a way that many traditional firms operate. With no twitter, no casual clothing and no personal calls, Sir Richard Branson said, “it was a horrible experience for everybody”.

To help us explore this area I spoke to expert on the matter Maxine Dolan, formerly Group Leadership Development Director at Tesco and panellist at our series of “Inside the Minds of Business Leaders” events.

Well actually, the term “millennials” doesn’t really capture it. It’s easier to think of it as anybody under the age of 30. They are essentially your future leaders of the business.

There is a much bigger change in their attitude towards having a job which is very different compared to previous generations. They do work incredibly hard – their work ethic is very strong particularly as we now have a generation that have had to invest heavily to get through university and start their working life with a lot of debt.

More access to information and less hierarchy

I think access to information and technology in general is very important. There were times when even 10 years ago, access to the senior people in the business, and the future plans for the business could be all quite mysterious to you. These days it feels like if you want to email the top guy you just email him or tweet him! You can have a voice if you want to speak to him and technology has enabled that.

The younger generation don’t think about things in terms of hierarchies either. They don’t think, “Oh I can’t say that idea out loud because that person is older and more important than me”. They have grown up in a world, and I’m convinced it’s all to do with the internet, where if you want to have a voice, you can.

“Enjoyment and belonging are two things key to long term retention.”

This can sometimes be challenging because in many organisations the people running them are more likely to be in their 40’s. It’s a generalisation but, if you then put the younger generation in a culture of an old-fashioned hierarchy where people say “be quiet because you’re not allowed to speak until you’re 35!” they just won’t stay. Enjoyment and belonging are two things key to long term retention.

And this is the name of the game. It’s about attracting and retaining the very best talent however big or small your business. You want the best people, because at the end of the day it’s the people that make money.

A responsibility and “bigger purpose” from the business

People expect the business to have a purpose nowadays. They expect the business to stand for something and they want the company’s values to be in line with theirs.

There’s another really interesting angle on all of this: Are businesses who profess to have this bigger purpose doing it for PR reasons? Or are they doing it because it will make them a better more profitable business?

I think what we’re finding is that there are more businesses who are very serious about either lessening their impact on the world or doing something positive so that their impact is a good one. It’s starting to get traction now with the idea that it can’t just be a strapline – it has got to be a real thing.

There’s nothing wrong with making money, but if you can do it in a way that makes a contribution to the world we live in as well, then that’s got to be a good thing.

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