How to Attract, Hire, & Retain top tier Millennial talent to Explode your Business Growth!
(I believe what I’m about to share is true for employees of any generation, because it speaks to the humanity in us all, however millennials happen to be more conscious of these key elements than most people. Therefore you may see greater results when using these strategies with millennials – approximate birth range of 1982-2002, depending on your source).
How to attract, hire, and retain top tier millennial talent to explode your business growth!
To answer this question in today’s world, we must look not to prescribed HR tactics or the recruiting fad of the year, but rather we must look to the basic building blocks of humanity. What makes our employees get out of bed in the morning? We must bring consciousness to the process.
So many of us are already moving through life unconsciously, going through the motions like robots, chasing what we think is important, only to end up feeling empty and alone in our lives. This leads to anxiety, depression, poor performance, and disengagement in and out of the workplace. In fact, a recent Gallup poll states that over 70% of employees in the US are disengaged at work. The number of disengaged employees reaches over 92% in the UK! The bad news is that it’s not a quick fix that happens in a week. The good news is that when you really get it, and commit to bringing more consciousness to your company, by making some simple consistent changes over time, magic and miracles can occur in your workplace and in your company’s results.
I’m going to outline the most important elements to focus on and share some unconventional wisdom gleaned from years of experience as a Headhunter, leader of large teams, and corporate Director of Talent Acquisitions, that will enable your company to “rise above the noise” and attract, hire, and retain top tier millennial talent.
There’s one main thing that you need to get really interested in and that’s your company culture.
What is Culture?
It’s the unseen things that make up a company’s culture, (not ping pong tables and free food – although who doesn’t like those two things), but the very ethos of a company that is central to attracting, hiring, and retaining top tier millennial talent.
So what makes up the core elements of company culture that drive the massive growth of some of the top corporations in the world, large and small? And how can you glean and apply these principles in your company to attract, hire and retain top tier millennial talent?
The culture must be attractive to everyone, not just millennials. And please don’t try to get cute here. Yes, niceties like speciality services and conveniences like extra time off and bonuses are cool and attractive. However it doesn’t make up your culture. Especially if your company is only adding these offerings because a corporate executive read it in an article or heard it at a SHRM conference and is trying to use it like a lure. (FYI, flexibility, time off, and growth opportunties are much higher rated than free food, game rooms, or even pay raises to top tier millennial talent).
If these incentives are truly representative of a culture that cares about its employees well-being and really is striving to create opportunities for its employees to LOVE their jobs and reach their highest potential, then and only then are they worth implementing. Even then, they are still only bonus items to accent the overall culture. Kind of like ornaments on a holiday wreath, whereas the beautifully woven wreath represents the actual company culture. (No HR comments about the holiday wreath please… thank you:)).
So what really makes a company culture attractive?
Millennials want to be a part of something meaningful, something larger than themselves. So ask yourself, what does your company stand for? What difference does your company make in the world? Companies that have a meaningful purpose bigger than any one person are the most attractive to millennials. Give this some thought. Even companies that make widgets can stand for something powerful. You don’t have to be a financial literacy education company changing children’s lives around the world to make a difference and be attractive. You could be a widget company that makes a difference internally with your own employees.
Top talent seeks clarity and strong leadership, so companies must have a clear vision, mission, core values, and strong leadership. This becomes very important when your company grows from the 50 person 25-50 million revenues into the 75+ person 100 million revenues. The larger you get, the more important that clarity, structure, systems, and clear communication become. It also makes performance management much easier when you can easily point to a set of core values that everyone in the company is expected to uphold to.
The Secret Weapon to Stand Above your Competition
A company’s culture that is centered around a growth mindset, both personal and professional growth, is the most likely to succeed and attract top tier talent. This can not be faked. The top leadership must be themselves committed to growth, and must support the growth of its employees in order to attract and definitely to retain top talent. They will snuff it out if you’re just playing lip service to growth in your recruiting efforts.
As humans, we all innately seek growth and expansion. However many times we are not conscious of who we really are or what makes us tick. We often don’t even know what we want in life, or what the best path is to achieve this growth. We do our best but often we find ourselves in roles that lead us down a path that isn’t aligned with our greatest potential, and many times this leads to failure. Worse yet, we have a team full of people in this situation.
Allow me to deepen this point by sharing what I’ve learned over the years about human behavior. As humans, we each have certain ways of being, that when allowed to BE in this way, things come naturally to us because we are innately driven to take positive action, and thus we are propelled to achieve our greatest potential.
Let’s call these ways of BEing, our Genius. There are 4 different geniuses – (imagine 4 sides of a square), and when we operate in our genius, we have the potential to get into our “flow”, or path of least resistance. Time gets distorted. It either stands still because we are so engrossed in the project, or it flies by for the same reason, and 8 hours seems like 8 minutes. We’ve all experienced this at some point in our lives, and it feels great. It’s a feeling of effortlessness, where we feel like we could do it all day long and not get tired. In fact, it gives us energy to perform inside of our genius and in flow. (Click HERE for more information on the 4 geniuses and 8 unique flow profile types).
The path of least resistance doesn’t mean the easy path. It is the path where we will most naturally flow to when left to our own devices. Think of it like water. Water will naturally flow from a place of higher ground to a place of lower ground. Water in a river doesn’t have to think about it when it comes up against a rock. It just finds the natural path of least resistance and flows up, over, or around that rock. Much the same, when your employees are in their roles, whether you or they are conscious of it or not, their efforts and attention will naturally flow to the path of least resistance over time. Sometimes you get lucky and their natural flow matches the needs of the role you have them in. But most of the time, at least part of their role is not in their flow and they will eventually falter. This leads to diminished trust on your team, and between you and them.
I’m not proposing a utopian world where our employees only do things that make them feel good. Not at all. I’m proposing that with these new distinctions around human behavior, we can bring more consciousness to not only our hiring, but also to our job descriptions and scope of duties, as well as our performance management systems. More on this in a bit.
And yes, our teams can all operate in all 4 geniuses and they can even have “strengths” that are outside of their natural genius and flow. For example, I know a CPA (certified Public Accountant) who has great strength at what she does, but it makes her miserable, literally taking energy from her. Strength does NOT equal Flow.
And much like water, if we operate outside of our natural flow for too long, it begins to erode at our soul and we will eventually get resentful or stop performing at a high level. You’ve likely experienced this in managing someone on your team, where they came out of the gate flourishing, but then over time they stopped performing in one area or another. They were likely outside of their natural genius and over time it wore them down. Unfortunately, this is oftentimes misdiagnosed that this employee isn’t a good employee, or they’re lazy, or not a good culture fit and they are either let go, or they leave on their own accord. When in reality, they were likely just put in a role that wasn’t truly suited for them. This is illustrated perfectly in the popular management theory, the Peter Principle – where “managers rise to the level of their incompetence”.
For example, you can always count on me to do the relationship building, sales conversations, speaking in public, or welcoming guests at an event. However I have a short shelf life for tasks like creating spreadsheets, managing projects, or providing ongoing customer support or service. The target for optimal performance, trust and flow on a team is when you can get your team members operating in their genius for 80+% of the time. This isn’t always possible from a standing start, and that’s why this needs to be woven into the culture. And when it’s a growth culture, employees need to know that life isn’t always sugar plums and cherry blossoms and they’re going to have to do some things that are not in their flow that they don’t enjoy, and that’s life. However when they know your objective is to always look for opportunities for them to be in flow, this is where the magic begins.
Here’s an example of how you could begin using this flow profile to positively impact your team and company culture. I profiled my small team and realized that we had three sides of the square represented, which was great. So on my next hire, I made sure to hire someone from the side of the square that wasn’t yet represented so we had a well balanced team. Then I went to work on the job descriptions and ultimately blurred the lines of the traditional job descriptions to more aptly capitalize on the core genius of my team. We sat down together and looked at the entire customer journey and outlined every component that created an excellent customer experience. Then we looked at all 4 geniuses and chopped up all the roles to separate the components into each of the roles.
By doing this process, we co-created their roles and responsibilities based on keeping them in their flow 80+% of the time, knowing that they’re going to have to do some things outside of their genius. The result was mind blowing, yet expected.
Each of them found their flow, their path of least resistance, and flourished. The best part is when your team members feel fulfilled, they pour themselves into their roles. They are team players that do whatever needs to be done. The best part for you is that because of all this, they are actually providing the most value to your company in the process.
What I’ve found is that when an employee knows that you’ve got their back, and you’re always looking for opportunities for them to be in their flow where they can provide the highest value, it gives them a sense of power, purpose, and contribution. It gives them a feeling of freedom to fly higher and achieve their greatest potential. Why the heck would they ever want to leave that? Creating flow on your team results in a palpable loyalty and trust between members of the team and between employee and supervisor. This is all especially true for millennials however I believe it’s true for humanity. Sir Richard Branson says, “Train your employees well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” I can’t think of a better way to achieve this than providing them with the self awareness and clarity of how they can add the most value to an enterprise, and then putting them in roles and giving them projects that allow them to fulfill on their greatest potential.
I can’t stress enough how paramount this is to attracting, hiring, and retaining top tier talent. This is THE GAME CHANGER and the secret sauce that creates a buzz in the job market around your company culture. A culture that cares is a culture that thrives.
Allow me to add one more element of culture to make this even more juicy before I drop the most unconventional piece of HR wisdom on you that you’ve ever heard. (Wow, that was a big proclamation.)
We’ve established that in order for your company to be the best of the best in your industry, you MUST attract the best of the best. Your culture acts as a magnet to attract these folks. Now, you need to ensure you have a systematic process for evaluating candidates that simultaneously allows your company to showcase your unique humanistic company culture, while also taking out the human error created by hiring solely off intuition. Intuition still plays a part, however it’s secondary to the system that positions your company to ensure it is comparing “apples to apples”, every single time. Bottom line, you need to have a system to determine the “A Players” from the “B Players” from the “C Players” from the “RUN-FOREST-RUN” Players.
In fact, woven into your advertising and your recruiting system (online application) should be mechanisms that weeds out the C and D players immediately so you don’t even waste your time looking at them. Many won’t even apply just by reading the application questions because they know this isn’t a place they can hide. (This doesn’t have to be an expensive or robust application system to start if you’re a smaller company.)
The overall hiring system I recommend you implement is called Topgrading (read the book Topgrading by Brad Smart immediately). The book will most certainly bore you to near death so skim it and use it as a resource, and/or read the follow up book “Who” by his son Geoff Smart which is much more concise. Topgrading outlines a systematic way to identify “A Players” in the sourcing, interviewing, and hiring process. Smart defines “A Players” as the top 10% of those applicants in the job market for that specific pay range. That’s who you want to be hiring, and retaining in your company. In fact, you also want to continuously be weeding out the lowest 10% of C players every year, and nurturing B players up to A players.
There are many components to implementing this system and is beyond the scope of this article but keep in mind that it’s also critical that you have the right culture on the front end to attract top talent, and the right culture and structures on the back end to retain top tier talent.
“A Players” are self motivated, proactively. They want to be a contribution. They want to grow in their skills. They want feedback on how they’re doing. They want flexibility. They value their time. And they want to be a part of something meaningful, something larger than themselves. “A Players” want to work in an environment that directly and indirectly supports their inherent human desire for growth and expansion in all areas of their life, period. Sound familiar? This is very similar to the wants and generic needs of many millennials.
Today’s top company’s know that their culture must be one of “intrapreneurship”.
An intrapreneur is an “inside entrepreneur”, or an entrepreneur within a company, who uses entrepreneurial skills without incurring the risks associated with those activities. Intrapreneurs are usually employees within a company who are assigned to work on a special idea or project, and they are instructed to develop the project like an entrepreneur would.
Like an entrepreneur, an intrapreneur is motivated, creative, and able to think outside of the box, and usually have the resources and capabilities of the company at their disposal.
An intrapreneur takes on their role as if it was their own business. They proactively seek out opportunities to create a better, faster, more efficient, more profitable, simpler process for themselves and a better experience for the customer, without even being asked. Yes, I know. This sounds too good to be true, but it exists, just possibly not yet in your company. And you’re not alone, most companies are not built upon this philosophy. However some of the world’s most successful companies large and small ARE built around creating a culture of intrapreneurs. Think Apple, Google, and Zappos on the larger scale, and companies like FortuneBuilders for example on a smaller scale. They seek out people who have either been an entrepreneur before or have an entrepreneurial mindset or aspirations of being an entrepreneur.
I know what you’re thinking… But wait, if I hire people who want to become entrepreneurs, then won’t they leave me? Well, yes, and no. And both answers are ok. If they are meant to leave you, they will, but they will have left behind a system and team that is functioning without them, and they will continue to rave about you as an employer because you helped them get what they wanted and evolve their career and life to the next level. And if they don’t want to leave, this means that you are the lucky recipient of a proven and indispensable intrapreneur who can take on a new business unit and build out the systems and team to make them dispensable again.
Allow me to restate this because this is the most counter-intuitive piece of advice I’ll give. A successful fast-growth company in today’s corporate environment needs to create opportunities for its employees to grow to the point where they are actually positioned to leave your company. Teach your employees and give them opportunities to make themselves dispensable to the company. That’s right. Teach them to build out the processes and systems and teams to actually replace themselves, making themselves redundant.
As you can imagine, this takes trust on both the company’s behalf and the employee’s behalf. The company cannot be fearful of losing top employees because it helped them grow, and the employee can’t be fearful of losing their job because they worked themselves out of a job. When there is this type of trust between employer and employee, it creates the kind of magic that results in explosive growth and sustainability for companies.
Once an employee proves that they can make themselves dispensable in their roles, now they become indispensable to the company. Yes, this gives them great experience that they could bring to another company, but it also gives them great experience to stay and grow inside of your enterprise. What’s going to keep them at your company is continued support of their personal and professional growth goals. Ask yourself, where else can I put this “A Player” into a position in our enterprise where they can be in their “flow” 80+% of the time, giving them the autonomy to perform as an intrapreneur again, and help us grow and build out new systems, structures, and teams, so they feel fulfilled and are adding the most value to the company? That is the magic formula.
This formula and all of the attraction, hiring, and retention components that I’ve outlined are critical for companies experiencing explosive growth or any company who wants to grow quickly. When I was Director of Talent Acquisitions, I helped implement all of these components together and saw the company grow from 50 employees to over 250 and 50 million to over 100 million in under 24 months because it created a culture with these qualities. It has since grown to over 500 employees and closer to 200 million in revenues. Referrals was by far the #1 source of new hires because of this culture that we created and they became known in the marketplace as the place to work for growth oriented “A Players” seeking an opportunity to contribute at a high level and to be part of something larger than themselves. If you want your company to operate at this high level, I highly recommend following some, if not all of the above recommendations. For support to kickstart and guide your success, please visit www.flowprofiles.com and/or contact me for a consult. Good luck! Enjoy, and please share this article with friends on social media. Thanks.
Clinton Young is an internationally recognized Professional Keynote Speaker, Business Coach, and Consultant. With his 17+ years in corporate, entrepreneurship, and professional speaking, along with his academic background in Industrial & Organizational Psychology he brings a vast and varied amount of experience to his clients. Most recently he’s spoken to over 30,000 people across the USA and Europe for top clients in the Corporate, University, and Sales & Entrepreneurship space. Learn more at www.ClintonYoung.com