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7 Weapons to Bring to the Millennial Talent Wars

Patrick Ball on January 09, 2017 08:00 AM

Finding Millennials to work for you is easy. There are 75 million of them, after all. But attracting and engaging the right Millennials—the ones who can grow and thrive along with your organization—is hard.

To attract, retain and engage high-performing Millennials, your EVP is key. Forget the beer fridges and Casual Fridays – the buzzwords that really resonate with today’s top young talent are entrepreneurialism, autonomy and meaningful work.

There’s a reason they call it the “War for Talent.” It’s because competition for today’s best and brightest truly is fierce and private sector quits are rising to near prerecession levels.

With that in mind, we’ll offer a few recruiting strategies to attract today’s best and brightest and keep your homegrown talent from looking elsewhere.

It’s Not About the Perks (‘Bout the Perks, More Culture)  

Let’s get this out of the way from the jump: Great companies to work for don’t become employers of choice overnight, and they don’t do it by simply tossing around big paychecks and bodacious work perks.

“The perks and benefits are just what outsiders looking in get dazzled by,” Chinwe Onyeagoro, EVP of Great Place to Work, said in this FORTUNE piece about tech and the war for talent. “They are not the main event. Tech companies will keep winning by default, because the ‘competition’ still does not quite get that to be great you have to invest in better relationships, not in more things.”

So how do you invest in better relationships? And how will doing so enhance your talent acquisition and management strategies?

Here’s a look at the seven weapons you most definitely need if you want to win the war for Millennial talent.

  1. Competitive Intel
    You already know the great Chinese general Sun Tsu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” He also said, “If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.” That’s important perspective when it comes to talent acquisition and management. Real data and insights on competitors and contemporaries is essential to developing sound recruiting and retention strategies. Knowing how your salary ranges, benefits and culture compare will help you identify your weaknesses and accentuate your strengths.

  2. Sharp Strategy
    It goes without saying that you should always be recruiting. Develop a hiring pyramid that fits for your organization. (At, we’ve adapted Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for talent evaluation, putting tech skills at the base, communication skills next and culture fit at the apex.) Then craft candidate personas so you can constantly be building relationships with talented people and finding places for them. And don’t overlook candidate experience – from job descriptions to phone screens to onboarding, never stop selling your organization and making a lasting impression.

  3. An Impactful Brand
    More and more, the lines are blurring – or even disappearing – between employer and consumer brands. Millennials want to feel connected to your mission, value and culture … and so do your increasingly socially conscious consumers. By focusing on one brand and one clear message, your able to give shine to the true value proposition that appeals to candidates and customers, as well as employees and partners. Presenting your organization as a place that does challenging, rewarding work that makes a real impact on the world allows candidates to picture themselves advancing their career and skills by working alongside smart, kind and talented people.

    >> 5 Reasons Work Perks Do Not a Culture Make

  4. Killer Culture
    Cliché as it sounds: culture matters. But if you want to win the Millennial talent wars, you have to understand what culture is … and what it is not. It’s not about beer fridges, pool tables and free pizza Fridays. True culture is the behaviors and beliefs that characterize your organization. Entrepreneurial spirit, work-life integration and a nurturing environment for professional development are hallmarks of a culture that will appeal to Millennial talent.

  5. Fearless Leaders (and Awesome Colleagues)
    Your people are one of your most valuable weapons in the war for talent. It’s hard to overstate the value of having employees people want to work with – and if they’re brand evangelists willing to get out there and informally recruit within their professional networks, even better. When you have strong leaders who are the face of a team or even the company, those influencers can also be powerful recruiting tools. Great people help with retention, too. One of the most common reasons people quit their jobs is disliking their boss (or co-workers).

  6. Competitive Benefits
    Work perks and benefits are not going to win you the war for Millennial talent, but you can’t compete for top talent if your total rewards aren’t competitive. In this job market, you need a value proposition that appeals to the whole employee, and benefits and perks are an area where your organization can make a difference in the lives of your employees. Think beyond health and dental -- today's top talent wants flexibility and family-care benefits that let them be their best selves in the office and outside of it.
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  7. Smart Retention Strategies
    Too often, retention strategies are a reaction to a problem that’s already been identified. Smart companies flip the conversation on its head. For them, retention starts with attracting the right people who are going to facilitate culture and engagement across their teams and contribute to an organization where retention is not a problem. Another important component of a sound retention strategy is understanding why employees leave, so you can understand and address issues that could be leading toward preventable departures.

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