What does the changing nature of young employees entering the workforce mean for you and your organisation? Anna Curzon profiles today’s young hires and shares the Xero approach to graduates.
These days, most businesses are working hard to come up with the best ways to recruit millennials. They’re the new generation of employees who understand the digital age and how to work in it better than most. Recruiters are trying hard to hire them, but many are having trouble figuring out how to attract and retain them.
It’s a question we’re also facing at Xero. One of the hardest things we’re facing as a business is finding talent – and when it becomes difficult to hire experienced seniors (especially in New Zealand, where our migration numbers are up but employers like us are still struggling in key growth sectors like technology), it becomes a competitive advantage to be able to build a talented workforce from within.
That’s why we’ve worked hard to build up our Graduate Programme as an exciting, inspiring opportunity for millennials starting out for the first time in the workplace. We’ve learnt a few things along the way that have changed the way we recruit and engage with young people that I’m going to share with you here, to help shape the HR activities of businesses trying to do the same.
Understand those you want to employ
Young hires are more likely than not to be millennials – and we’re also starting to see Generation Z entering the workforce. People who are typically comfortable with most aspects of modern technology, and who use social media for a signification portion of their socialising.
So what’s included in the makeup of a Generation Z/millennial? Here are their top attributes:
- They’re digital natives, for whom being online and communicating through social media is the norm.
- They have a sophisticated cynicism when it comes to advertising – if it’s not authentic and real, they won’t engage with it.
- They experience tension when they are choosing a career. On the one hand, they want good, solid careers, to develop their skills, and they want to progress. But they also have an ingrained social conscience and strong social awareness. They want to work for a company that does good, as well as making a profit (they are all about the quadruple bottom line). They care, and they want to have an impact.
- They crave innovation, and they’re entrepreneurial (i.e. want to do things their way and have a voice).
- They are very tolerant of differences and diversity, and expect fairness in the workplace. They respect people who they feel deserve respect, not those who have power because of the position they hold in an organisation.
- They are likely to be the first “global” generation; borders don’t matter online. They speak only digital, and the language they use is “us’ and “we” not “you” and “they”. They are a #nation.
- They believe they can make a difference. They want to be inspired, and they will work their butts off for an employer that does that for them.
“Not only must we understand the mindset of the people we want to hire, but we have to understand those around them who influence their decisions.”
Not only must we understand the mindset of the people we want to hire, but we have to understand those around them who influence their decisions. When we recruit from universities, we have to not only think about the grads we want to hire, but the stakeholders who can influence them and their career choices. Think academics, career services staff, student clubs, grad-specific third-party providers like GradConnection.co.nz, and parents. Engagement therefore has to cover multiple channels and be as authentic as possible.
Look ahead, not just at the CV in front of you
At Xero, we approach grad recruitment by selecting people based on their potential, not their experience. What we’re looking for, in particular, is how a grad will develop and learn, and whether they’ve got the right attributes for that to happen.
Attracting their attention
It’s a complex task to hire large numbers of graduates, effectively onboard them into the business, and then retain them. The ICT industry is a key focus for New Zealand and is also experiencing a lot of growth. As a result, Xero is battling against competitors from New Zealand and overseas who’re searching for the same kind of people, which is impacting our ability to attract high calibre talent.
Using social media to grab these people’s attention is a key part of our recruitment strategy. LinkedIn’s 2016 Global Recruiting Trends report shows that of the top sources of quality hires, social professional networks take the cake at 43%, compared to Internet job boards (42%) and employee referral programmes (32%). In fact, LinkedIn’s 2015 report found that 62% of millennials visit a company’s social media sites to find out information about jobs.
So we use social media to sell the Xero story to potential employees and let them decide for themselves if it’s a company they want to work for, not the other way around. We want to showcase our culture; gone are the days of using those cringe-worthy stock images to make us seem attractive. Now, we use our own content created by our staff using our dedicated hashtag #dobeautifulwork, so that when people search for us on LinkedIn or Instagram, we’re showcasing Xero as a great place to work as told by the people they’ll be working with. We’re happy to open up the windows and let people have a good look into our culture. It’s about being authentic and transparent.