What Employees Want: Curb Appeal to Attract the Next Generation
September 10, 2014
These days, most employees don’t view work as a day job or a way to pass time. In the age of the internet, social media, and brand engagement we are finding that employees want to feel like they are part of something. They want to feel that they are making a difference.
The New Generation of Employees
But before we can really understand what employees want, we have to understand who the next generation of employee is; beginning with their lifestyle and expectations.
First, it is important to understand exactly how deeply technology has been embedded into their lives. The new workforce of 20-30 somethings, often referred to as the millennial generation, has been raised on computers and technology. They were the first real generation to have ample access to computers from a young age at home and for public use. They are the ones driving the popularity of social media, cloud computing and online retail businesses. They adopt technology like smart phones, e-readers, tablets, mp3 players, and other tech gadgets incredibly fast compared to the skeptics of previous generations. In fact, the solid majority have one or more of these devices that they use on a daily basis. But that access to technology had another interesting side-effect on their habits. They actively rely on technology driven communication to inform them about current events, the world and all of the possibilities in it.
In short, their familiarity and reliance on technology has turned them into highly informed dreamers. And dreamers thrive on aspiration. This new employee has thought about the types of employers and businesses he or she wants to work for. From management styles to public image, he or she is probably equally concerned about who they are working for as they are about what their job entails. They also expect more personal considerations from employers in addition to traditional benefits like vacation days and healthcare.
As information driven individuals, they expect to be kept in the loop on management decisions, workplace culture and overall business development. They don’t want to know just what the company can do for them, but also what the company does for the industry and even the world and how they can personally be involved and recognized for their contributions. According to an article published on The Atlantic's website, a recent study cited 57% of American Millennials said that when looking for a job, "their top priority was doing something that they found enjoyable or making a difference in society" as opposed to older Americans polled who reported "making as much money as possible or learning new skills" as their top priority (Millennials in Search of a Different Kind of Career, The Atlantic).
Along with all of the messages they have absorbed through technology, this generation has grown accustomed to viewing brands and companies as if they were people. If they are going to work for you, they want to get to know your business on a personal level. As a business owner or manager, one of your biggest responsibilities is to bring the personality or image of your business to life. You do this internally through the work environment you foster, internal policies you pass, employee relations and externally with public relations and marketing.
When you are hiring, the majority of the potential applicants will be local residents. And if they aren't locals, the applicants have definitely done their research on you. They will have heard the stories (good and bad) from your employees, the media, on the internet or even from your customers (How Millennials Use Research in their Job Search, Monster). All of this information will be at their fingertips. And the reputation you have built will have a critical impact on who walks through your door.
Vital Business Considerations
"Experts estimate it costs upwards of twice an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement," (How to Reduce Employee Turnover, WSJ).
Businesses are always under a watchful eye. And customers are no longer the only ones that wonder what you do with their money. To stay in business and be successful, you need dedicated employees to carry you through the good and the bad times; to build loyal customers and maintain your company's image.
Capturing these kinds of employees can be tricky. Particularly when you're dealing with a generation that is more comfortable with switching career paths and even industries than previous generations (Millennials in Search of a Different Kind of Career, The Atlantic). It requires a good deal of effort and curb appeal. Before a potential new employee walks through your door, you want them feeling good about your business. Even before that first application lands on your desk or in your inbox, these potential hires will be out there asking questions like:
- What kinds of business investments are you making?
- Is there room for professional growth at your business?
- Why do people quit working for you?
- What does your company do for the industry?
- Are you giving back to the community or the environment?
- Do employees from your business often get recruited for bigger businesses?
- How is your business serving customers better than the competition?
- Does your management take the time to get to know employees?
- What is the general culture of your work environment?
- Does your business promote from within?
A lot of the answers to these questions can be made available on your website. But let's be honest, for many of these questions, your business isn’t going to be the one providing the answer that counts most. News coverage, previous employees, and past or present customers are going to be at the forefront of a potential hire’s information gathering process. Both the positive and negative information is at their fingertips and these technology savvy recruits know how to get it. Tools like social media, blogs, and review sites are going to supply them with the bulk of this information. So even if you aren’t there telling the story and building your reputation, it’s very likely that someone else is.
Words of Wisdom
So the big secret to understanding and hiring the best possible employees out of this new generation of 20-30 somethings is to always be recruiting. With every business decision, consider the impact on employees as well as your customers, the community and the industry. Because you can bet that the next person who looks your way for a job will want to know exactly what they are getting into. And if your business is not actively working on maintaining its curb appeal—the top-quality new recruits won’t be knocking on your door.