Why talent management doesn’t work with millennial and Gen Z employees

Why talent management doesn’t work with millennial and Gen Z employees

Most businesses are acutely aware of just how important millennial and Gen Z employees are to their organisations. Together, the two demographics make up the majority of the workforce, and their immense technological know-how, high levels of education, and reputation for passion and ambition make them incredibly valuable assets. However, businesses need to work hard to earn their loyalty, as 44% of UK millennials and 65% of Gen Zs expect to leave their employer within two years. As such, attracting younger talent is now only half the battle — organizations have to pull out all the stops to retain millennial and Gen Z workers.

Many employers hope to achieve this through dedicated talent management programmes, which aim to attract, identify and develop individuals who are considered vital to business success. Unfortunately, the purported benefits of talent management are often not what they seem, and what’s more, the principles are usually incompatible with millennial and Gen Z temperaments.

Talented employees are more likely to stay with a company if they are able to develop skills, excel in a particular role, and contribute to a greater goal. For these reasons, businesses should consider moving away from traditional practices if they want to retain their millennial and Gen Z workforce. That’s why our talent strategy solution places focus on the key requirements of a role to ensure employees thrive in the workplace. Here are some things your business should consider when it comes to hiring younger talent.

Culture is just as important as skills

Millennial and Gen Z employees don’t just look at the required skills when applying for jobs. Company culture is incredibly important to younger hires, as they want to support an enterprise that they can believe in. In fact, a survey by Glassdoor revealed that this is even more important than salary, with jobseekers most keen to work for a business “whose values align with their own and whose mission they can fully get behind”. Therefore, companies will find no benefit in a talent management strategy that focuses purely on the skills and traits they want in their candidates — they must find someone who is also a good cultural match.

New millennial and Gen Z hires need to fit seamlessly into a company’s existing cultural fabric if the organisation is to retain them — almost 75% of workers have resigned over a culture clash. While traditional talent management aims to ensure that every hire has the right skills for the job, it rarely gives cultural aspects the same consideration.

This is why our approach to talent strategy is likely to have a far more positive impact on a business’s recruitment processes. We screen candidates using psychometric assessments to help you select the very best people. As well as a Role Fit Assessment to identify who has the skills and traits associated with high performance in that particular role, we also perform a unique Culture Fit Assessment. This examines relevant personality and motivational factors, so companies can select candidates in line with their vision and values.

Not only does this approach enable businesses to find optimal employees across the board, it ensures that new millennial and Gen Z hires will complement the company culture, and be more likely to be satisfied and stick around.

Continuous learning opportunities are key

Millennials and Gen Zs expect their employers to offer opportunities for growth and progression, but this goes beyond merely climbing the corporate ladder. Though older demographics are also undoubtedly motivated by promotions and pay rises, millennials and Gen Zs have a far more fluid view of career development. They want learning and continuing professional development to be an ongoing process, giving them the skills they need to define their own roles and maximise their impact on the company’s performance. What’s more, the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019 revealed that 35% of millennials and 33% of Gen Zs would leave a job if they struggled to advance. Inadequate learning opportunities would also give 28% of millennials and 27% of Gen Zs reason to give notice.

These desires can often be at odds with talent management, as the point of this approach is to recruit and retain high-performing employees, but not necessarily to broaden their skill set. Instead, talent management is far more likely to confine individuals to specific roles, limit their possibilities, and dampen their motivation as a result.

However, this is another area which directly benefits from talent strategy. Instead of immediately looking outside the organisation to fill vacancies, our talent strategy takes a comprehensive look at those within the company. We conduct psychometric assessments on all current employees to see whether their skills equip them to perform well in other areas of the business. For example, someone in the HR department could have untapped creative potential that would help drive performance in marketing. With a fresh understanding of their workforces’ capabilities, businesses can then use this information to shape learning and development opportunities for each individual.

As well as helping millennial and Gen Z employees expand their roles and stay challenged and motivated, this also enables effective strategic workforce planning, in which every person is in a role they can flourish in. Our work with The Co-op is an excellent example of this, where we’ve helped to create an award-winning retail apprenticeship programme that gives people a clear pathway from school leaver to executive and up the career ladder.

Personalised approaches are most effective

The last thing millennial and Gen Z employees want is to be referred to as “talent”, or to be treated as “capital”. First and foremost, they are individuals who know the specific way in which they work best. A survey by Robert Walters revealed that 53% of millenials have been disappointed at receiving no personal development training when starting a new job, while only 15% of employers felt that tailored programmes were crucial for maintaining employee engagement.

Traditional talent management won’t necessarily provide the younger generations with the bespoke training they are looking for, as this approach usually assigns training based on the role, rather than the individual. And of course, a training programme that works for one employee may not meet the needs of another, thereby hindering their ability to fulfil their potential. This is why our talent strategy approach never operates in generic terms. Once a business has identified the core skills they want to focus on for a particular employee, we can measure their development over time, and enable structured performance reviews. Regular face-to-face discussions between employees and managers allow both parties to be involved in training programmes, discuss any issues, and ensure the plan is optimal for the employee’s specific requirements.

A tailor-made, flexible approach to career development is by far the best way to allow millennial and Gen Z employees to flourish, which can only be a good thing for the organisations hiring them.

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