The new rules of engagement
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The new rules of engagement

Millennials have traditionally been described as a problem generation, being more outspoken and demanding than their predecessors – whether it be as employees or consumers.

Often, problems get talked about but are swept under the carpet, people intrinsically favouring habit over change.

Take a case in point; employee engagement. We’ve long been discussing the changing needs of millennial employees, yet Deloitte’s 2014 global survey reveals 75% of organisations struggle to recruit top talent. Moreover, 70% of millennials see themselves working independently in the future. This suggests a severe disparity between what employees are offering and what millennial’s want. Additionally, it implies companies are not listening, ignoring the issue rather than implementing change.

With entrepreneurship being the new ambition, Northstar recently conducted a study exploring the appeal, mentality and workings of millennial start-up culture. Findings suggest millennial entrepreneurs are tired of waiting for companies to meet their expectations. They’re walking away from convention and creating businesses built upon millennial values, taking ownership of their personal fulfilment. Most pertinent, rather than traditional monetary incentives, millennial entrepreneurs value and trade (with employees) new currencies, including passion, purpose, flexibility, transparency, collaboration, trust and autonomy.

Our research implies a change is needed by the marketing industry; in our approach to attracting millennial talent. In essence, it is time to adapt and learn the new rules of engagement.

Attracting and engaging talent

The following are ingredients for marketing employers to implement a millennial start-up mentality to better attract and retain top millennial talent:

  • Company mission: Meaning trumps materialism on the list of millennial priorities, therefore companies cannot just be driven by making money. At the heart of the business must be a company mission – one that invigorates and inspires.
  • Inspirational chief executive officer (CEO): The company mission and values must be embodied by a passionate, inspiring yet accessible CEO. They must speak with authenticity and conviction, take risks to drive change, understand millennial values, and engage with employees at all levels.
  • Community and collaboration: Companies should aim to create a community. You're not just offering a job, but a way of life. One that is full of passion, inspiration, collaboration and like-minded individuals. On an industry level, the marketing community is inspiring to be part of and should be better utilised as a reason-to-join, with new recruits being encouraged to attend industry events.
  • Recruitment: To create a community, human resources must be at the heart of organisational development. Cultural fit should take precedence, becoming the first rather than the last screening criteria. Given the importance of teamwork, bringing millennial employees into the recruitment process can improve both employee attraction and retention. This strategy empowers employees and strengthens loyalty, whilst also helping companies tap into and authentically communicate reasons-to-join.  
  • Entrepreneuralism: From the off-set, invite new recruits to take risks and make an impact. Be clear that career progression is based on merit, not age. Allocate budget for young employees to innovate and experiment. Promote the opportunity for young employees to step-up and establish themselves as industry influencers via industry-wide initiatives like conference speaking opportunities. Promote ours as an industry that encourages young talent to put forward new thinking and drive change.
  • Autonomy and flexibility: Trust new recruits to be autonomous and choose their own working style. Ensure internal mentality is results rather than hours focused. Millennials don’t like postponing happiness to the weekend and marketing is not a 9am-5pm job. Whilst this may be a negative for previous generations wanting distinctive lines between work and home life, amongst millennials we should be promoting this as a benefit – ours being a lifestyle choice that allows flexibility and work-life integration.
  • Transparency: Avoid the secrecies of the traditional corporate landscape by avoiding a hierarchical approach to information-sharing. The more you share, the more your employees feel trusted, valued and emotionally invested. Thus, be transparent, bringing all levels into the fold.

The marketing industry has much to offer employees. However, to improve attraction and engagement we must adapt our traditional approaches and tap into the millennial mind-set. It is time to re-evaluate the currencies we trade and start implementing the new rules of engagement.

Samantha Bond Research Manager Northstar Research Partners
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