How to hire talent in the age of millennials

Much has been said over the last few years about the millennial workers entering the workplace and how this generation is going to redefine and reshape the workplace of the future. But, is this getting organisations in a panic over changing their hiring policies and practices?

According to Michelle Baron-Williamson, Executive of Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE): “To keep up with the rapidly growing number of millennials entering the workplace, this has caused some organisations to ‘panic’ and try to reshuffle their existing workforce to make space for this millennial worker. Of course, companies should examine ways to leverage this new talent and focus on investing in hiring more skilled millennials to populate their workforce. However, this should not come at the expense of HR practices that are crucial to protecting the organisation – which I believe is happening.”

Research from PwC notes that millennials already form 25% of the workforce in the US and account for over half of the population in India. In South Africa, alternative research notes that there are approximately 19.5 million millennials in the country. PwC’s research states that by 2020, millennials will form 50% of the global workforce.

Michelle Baron-Williamson, MIE

“The millennial-worker movement forms part of normal evolutionary shifts of society – where, as one generation moves out of the workplace, another moves in,” adds Baron-Williamson. “However, the fast-paced growth of this movement has largely been spurred by the urgency of each wave of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As markets increasingly move into a more digital era, there is a multitude of diverse and digital technologies that organisations are looking to adapt to and adopt. And, what has become clear is that, as organisations look to roll out their own digital transformation strategies, having a strong digitally inclined workforce is key to succeeding and remaining competitive.”

Millennials have grown up with technology at their fingertips and being exposed to all things connected. Their diverse understanding of the digital realm and innovative way of thinking is a unique opportunity that organisations can leverage and therefore need to capitalise on. However, the research also noted that millennials tend to be uncomfortable with rigid corporate structures.

Baron-Williamson indicates that where organisations are panicked over potentially losing talent, many are either ignoring or adjusting their HR policies and structures to accommodate this new generation worker. But, that this approach in effect increases risks to the organisation associated with hiring an inappropriate candidate.

“What has become clear is that, as organisations look to roll out their own digital transformation strategies, having a strong digitally inclined workforce is key to succeeding and remaining competitive.” – Michelle Baron-Williamson, MIE.

“HR processes, no matter which generation, should remain stringent. Aspects such as background screening checks must be incorporated. In fact, the need to assess whether a candidate is right for the organisation and the job available, is more prevalent than ever, especially in an economy where job opportunities are not plentiful,” says Baron-Williamson.

South Africa’s unemployment rate remains alarmingly high at 26.7%; which means there is a much larger number of people – across generations – competing for limited available job positions. Desperation and the anxiety experienced when looking for meaningful employment opportunities in a tougher economic environment can, unfortunately, result in an increase in job-seekers not being truthful about their professional, criminal and academic histories.

Baron-Williamson suggests that there are a number of other approaches that should be considered and incorporated into an organisations hiring strategy to attract top millennial talent. Examples of these may include – but not be limited to – adopting social media as key tools in recruitment efforts, placing increased focus on culture-fit and that the organisation exuberates a healthy culture, and offering professional development. It’s also important to review onboarding programmes, to ensure these are supported by powerful technology and are in tune with the organisation’s digital transformation strategy.

“While millennials do form a key cornerstone of the future business workforce and therefore should be considered when growing a business’s talent team, the HR process in hiring millennials should not change based on this new generation of worker. Conducting comprehensive background checks remains paramount to HR practices; to enable the organisation to make making intelligent personnel decisions,” concludes Baron-Williamson.