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There are 75 million Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), 10,000 of them are retiring daily. Organisations are facing the threat of being short staffed. Many organisations are struggling to attract and retain Millennials (born between 1980 and 1996 and currently in their 20s or 30s) professionals, who can fill the workforce gap by sustaining their business in the long run with fresh perspectives.
One of the biggest challenges an organisation will face will be adopting a different working culture for Millennials, as they have different working styles and expectations compared to Baby Boomers. Millennials are tech-savvy and hungry for change and innovation, as they were born into the digital era. In order for businesses to attract these talents successfully–we must understand their behavioural attitudes towards work.
Job-hopping seems like the norm amongst Millennials, as they are expected to have around 15-20 jobs in their lifetime. Independent reveals that “...only 28% [of Millennials] have plans to stay beyond five years” in their job. Whilst ”43% of Millennials plan to leave their current jobs within two years”. The reason for job-hopping may be down to Millennials being less willing to remain in an unfulfilling job. Some of their major concerns are: lack of opportunities, recognition, economy, and diversity whilst desiring good communication, value-driven companies and flexibility to fulfil a work-life balance (alternative options to 9-5pm office hours).
Whether you have a small or big organisation, your current and future employees (from your CEO to receptionist) will become a representation of your brand in all different facets of your business, which influences the experiences that your current and prospect consumers will have. Therefore, it is very important to have a strong brand that is reflected in the work culture, which will ultimately attract Millennials.
Forbes states: ...every employee is a steward of your brand’s story and culture.
1. Begin with your hiring process. When finding candidates these individuals should not only have the skills and experiences but also the personality that aligns with the brand culture. Otherwise there will be a disruption to company culture and productivity.
2. Inform your employees through workshops, policies, references (make these visible around your work space). Ensure all employees know what your brand’s value are, as this will become the permanent lens that your workforce sees itself through.
3. Display and believe: It is important to have your workforce displaying your brand values–especially starting with your senior executives that lead the company.
4. Reinforce and encourage your employees to confidently display the company’s brand values by recognising and rewarding them for their commitment. Your employees are your brand’s ambassadors–their success and failures have a massive impact on consumers, nevertheless your company.
5. Listen and adapt: Does your current company culture enable its staff to give feedback about the organisational infrastructure? Entrepreneur states: “Being brand-centric means being willing to review and revise the ways in which your processes, procedures, systems and standards do not line up with the brand promise.” It is vital that brands adapt and don’t get stuck in their ways–to encourage growth and relevance.
A great example that emphasises the importance of having a strong brand culture is from the American Television series called Undercover Boss. This show highlights the consequence of when the workforce is not aligned with brand values and how it can damage the success of a business.
The best way to wrap our heads around the importance of brand culture is to compare two of the biggest game changers and direct competitors; Google and Amazon.
Google’s mission is to “to organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Google’s culture encourages innovation amongst its employees. This is achieved through having a vibrant and playful working space (Googleplex). Transparency is another key part of Google’s culture, as they trust their staff with information. All employees are encouraged to share their ideas about how to improve the culture of innovation.
Amazon’s mission is to “build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online”. Amazon’s ‘learn and be curious’ culture is emphasised through their Career Choice education programme launched in 2014. This acts as Amazon’sway to support its permanent employees by investing in their future–over 2,000 employees have participated from eight different countries. Amazon’s “Work hard. Have fun. Make history” brand culture pushes leadership, diversity, innovation and strives to deliver results as they are customer-centric.
According to Glassdoor the culture and values of each brand were rated: 4.4 stars by 7,348 Google employees and 3.8 stars by 23,127 Amazon employees. Google’s collaborative approach is more favourable than Amazon’s aggressive approach to managing its staff (revealed by The New York Times). It will be interesting to see if Millennials can adapt to Amazon's approach or be put off altogether, as many will look at Glassdoor whilst applying for jobs.
Google “favours ability over experience”, gives “significant employee ownership of Google”, and “hard working people are rewarded for their contributions”–Google statement.
Amazon’s customer-first and iterative approach has helped them to grow within their market. Entrepreneur: “Build your culture around customers by empowering employees with the information and tools they need to serve customers–share metrics, trends and feedback.” This encourages a culture of care and commitment, as their staff will have a better understanding of their customer experiences.
Both global brands have worked hard to develop their brand culture, which is a great starting point for any business that aims to recruit and attain Millennials into their workforce. Millennials can still learn a lot from Baby Boomers through mentorship, and it should then organisations responsibility to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and experience to the next generation. In the future organisations will need to also consider a new approach to attract Generation Z (born after Millennials and recent graduates) into their workforce, as their expectations and requirements may be different from their predecessors.