Why Companies Remain Indifferent to Millennials In the Workplace

A Millennial dominated workplace will soon be a reality, yet most companies are taking a neutral, non-competitive approach to attracting and retaining this massive workforce. Here's the latest thinking.

April 4, 2017 – New data from the 2017 ‘Millennial Hiring Trends Study,’ by MRINetwork indicates that among the executive, managerial and professional ranks misconceptions about what is important to Millennials, and a lack of urgency about their roles in the workplace, are preventing many employers from gaining traction with this younger generation.

Despite these shortcomings, the study reveals that recruiters expect companies to take a more strategic approach to attracting and holding on to their top Millennial talent in 2017.

According to the study, Millennials selected compensation and benefits most often (28 percent) as their top priority when considering a new job. Mentorship and opportunities for advancement ranked just two percentage points below, at 26 percent, suggesting that pay is often the determining factor when Millennials decide to take on a new role. On behalf of clients, recruiters ranked work/life balance as the top priority, indicating a disconnect between what employers think and what Millennials value most.

“Companies have as much time as they are willing to invest in securing the confidence of this future generation of leaders – it is as simple as that,” said Smooch R. Reynolds, global investor relations and communications practice group leader with DHR International. “The Millennial generation does not necessarily have unusual expectations, but they are clearly different expectations than other generations,” she added. “And they are much more comfortable about leaving a company as a result.”


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Market reputation was identified by 40 percent of Millennials as having the most impact on their impressions of prospective employers. Comparatively, 54 percent of recruiters said online presence is the top channel being leveraged by companies to attract Millennials. Additionally, when asked if most of their clients have an employer brand that is attractive to Millennials, almost half of recruiters (48 percent) said no. Seventy two percent of Millennials said it depends on the industry sector.

Who’s Got the Upper Hand?

In terms of what has the most impact on the decision to stay with an employer, more than half of Millennials (53 percent) said it is career pathing – mapping of incremental progression to new roles in the company. Flexible work options, or the ability to work remotely, was the top pick of recruiters (38 percent) followed by career pathing at 32 percent.

“CEOs are really smart executives, but, oftentimes, their preference is setting an expectation that their organization (from top to bottom) will simply follow their edict,” said Ms. Reynolds, who, as a talent advisor to C-suite executives, has added more than $300 billion in valuation to client organizations over the past 15 years through her IRO search work. “I believe that management and employees need to figure out how to meet in the middle. There is always more than one way to solve a problem.”

It is unclear whether the market is currently candidate-driven among top Millennial talent. Most recruiters (71 percent) feel it is, while more than half of Millennials (53 percent) feel employers have the upper hand in the hiring process.

Although many factors are at play, Millennials may feel inferior to their prospective employers because of lengthy hiring processes, or little to no feedback about their standing in the interview process. Companies may feel Millennials have more control because they often bring tech-savvy, new work approaches and specialty skill sets to the table.

Millennial Interaction


In this fifth episode of our 10-part podcast series, ‘Working with Millennials,’ we feature another highly informative Q&A with Smooch Reynolds, DHR International’s global investor relations and communications practice group leader. According to Ms. Reynolds, a Millennial dominated workplace will soon be a reality. But companies seem stuck in second gear when trying to figure out how to attract and recruit them to their businesses. Listen Now.


“As with any dilemma, management should gain some objectivity and invest some energy attempting to understand this constituency,” said Ms. Reynolds, “rather than do what most leaders do, which is push their default button and seek the easiest answer. Smart management teams need to interact in a genuine manner with Millennials and really make an effort to invest in learning through their lens.”

Regardless of who is driving the labor market among Millennials, more than half of recruiters (61 percent) feel companies are planning on taking a more deliberate, strategic approach with this group in 2017. Thirty three percent feel employers will develop specific strategies to attract Millennials, and 28 percent say clients will focus on career pathing and mentoring to prepare Millennial employees for management.

These potential changes are encouraging as recruiters and hiring leaders begin to understand the combined value, perspectives and impacts of successfully integrating various generational groups into organizational teams, and engaging them through improved work synergies, mentoring and succession planning.

Ms. Reynolds offered three ways for managers and Millennials to regain one another’s respect and to bring their partnership full circle in the workplace. “Be active listeners of each other, show some empathy and come toward one another with deeper understanding, and identify one or two simple steps that you can both to take together.” The journey, she said, will be well worth it.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and John Harris, Managing Editor — Hunt Scanlon Media

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