How Corporates Can Win Millennial Talent With Purposeful Perks
The battle for talent continues. Whether you’re a fledgling startup or a multinational corporation, your ability to recruit and retain top talent is directly tied to your future success and license to operate.
Millennials have been at the forefront of the talent discussion in recent years, as their behaviors and preferences in the workplace continue to stump employers. This demographic’s quest for meaningful work, regular promotions, and constant feedback has spurred phenomena such as job-hopping, portfolio careers, and remote work environments. However, like every generation inevitably does, millennials are maturing...and so are their preferences as employees.
According to a study by Accenture, only 15% of the class of 2015 said they would "prefer" to work for large corporations; but, while startups and medium-sized businesses may be more appealing to recent grads, older millennials are starting to prioritize job security and comprehensive benefit packages over the promise of unlimited PTO and the ability to choose their own title. This presents an enormous opportunity for large corporations to compete for a fresh pool of talent, if (and only if) they are able to respond to the shifting preferences of maturing millennial employees.
In this article, we share three recommendations for how large corporations can improve their position versus smaller, more nimble competitors on the talent battlefield.
Don’t make employees choose between purpose and pay.
Companies that want to recruit and retain the best talent, must offer both purpose and competitive pay. This is an area where large corporations (could) enjoy a significant competitive advantage over most startups. Startups have been able to compete with the big guys by putting their company purpose front and center. Working for a mission-driven organization is a powerful incentive for young, independent, ambitious workers who are determined to make their mark on the world. For this group of millennials, the trade-off is easy; but it becomes more challenging when navigating the pressures of adulthood. Purpose doesn’t always pay the bills, and “purpose vs. pay” is a constant tradeoff depending on where you are in life.
While startups may have to overcompensate by investing in purpose, culture, and perks, large corporations can offer all of these things in addition to a competitive salary. Most Fortune 500’s have always had a mission or purpose statement; some just didn’t view it as a key selling point. This has changed over the past few years, with many large corporations choosing to revamp and refocus on their company mission.
Offer clarity and security of career trajectory.
While some may have opted for a detour here and there, millennials are finally approaching some major life milestones. Today, they represent the largest share of new homebuyers and 40% are parents. With increased responsibility looming, the desire for novelty and variety is being replaced by the desire for job security.
One of the most attractive features of working at a startup is the promise of ownership and rapid career advancement. Startups are, by nature, flat organizations. It is not unusual for brand new employees to find themselves in a room with the CEO on their first or second day on the job. Unless you happen to get into the right elevator at the right time, this is far more unlikely at a Fortune 500. It may seem trivial, but access to leadership can have a powerful impact by making employees feel that their voice is being heard at the highest level of the organization. This type of transparency also creates a shared sense of purpose: employees know what’s on the minds of leadership and feel compelled to contribute to company goals.
The flipside of the startup environment is that it’s very difficult to offer a clear career trajectory. Flat organizations may be ideal for young, hungry go-getters who don’t care about titles, but as millennials mature, so does their appreciation for a more predictable path to leadership. According to a recent study, 77 percent would be willing to take a salary cut in exchange for long-term job security. That’s a dramatically different picture than has been painted to date, and large corporations are uniquely positioned to capitalize on this trend.
Focus on the benefits that really matter.
As millennials start to settle down and assume the adult responsibilities they’ve successfully avoided for so long, primary concerns are changing. While flashy Silicon Valley-style perks such as free massages and kombucha on tap certainly capture prospective employees’ attention, the charm wears off after a while. The benefits that truly move the needle when it comes to maturing millennials are those that make it easier to integrate work and personal lives. As the first digital natives, millennials are struggling to find “balance” in a work environment that expects 24/7 availability. This is true for all generations, but while boomers appear to have an easier time compartmentalizing and prioritizing, millennials are trying to climb the ranks at work while simultaneously maintaining Instagram-worthy personal lives.
The most impactful benefits - including student loan repayment, on-site child support, maternity and paternity leave - are often not feasible for a small or medium-sized business with limited resources. Large corporations, however, can afford to play the long-game. They can offer their employees an integrated lifestyle by investing in their ability to perform at their best for the long run.