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8 Strategies To Attract and Retain Millennials | S2:E10

  • Episode 10
  • 'Inside Executive Search' Podcast

    Attracting, selecting, and retaining top talent is a challenge for many businesses. Join long-time executive search professional Scott Peterson, alongside Steve Yakesh, President of Direct Hire & Executive Leadership Search at one of the leading executive search firms, to discuss insights and techniques to assist companies to achieve their best results. If you’re an executive leader looking for advice on hiring the best talent for your company, you’ll want to hear this advice from these industry experts.

    Steve Yakesh | President, Direct Hire & Executive Leadership Search

    As President of Direct Hire & Executive Search, Steve Yakesh leads Versique’s award-winning permanent placement division with more than 20 years of experience. Additionally, he guides strategy for Versique’s twelve practice areas, including IT, HR, Finance & Accounting, Engineering & Operations, Sales, CPG, Digital Marketing, Executive Retained Search, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Family Owned and Demand Generation.

    Scott Peterson | Vice President, Executive Leadership Search

    Scott Peterson leads the Retained Executive Search division at Versique as the Senior Practice Director. In his role, Scott fills critically-important senior level positions such as CEO, CFO, CIO, COO. Scott has over 20 years of experience in executive recruiting. Additionally, Scott has also served on the Board of Directors the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation, Medina Golf and Country Club, as well as several youth sports organizations.

    Podcast Transcription

    [00:06:06]SYIt’s an organization that has core values that drive it, and to your point deliver it in the workplace every day. That same analogy, right?[00:06:14]SPThose are the companies that will win with millennial for sure.[00:06:16]SYYup, absolutely.[00:06:18]SPSo the first one I’m going to talk about is they value the ability to move up in the organization. So they want to have promotional opportunities. But they also want business challenges that may not have a title change. But maybe they’ve got – They were asked to participate in something new. So they’re growing within the organization. This is critical to help them visualize their career path. Help them understand not only during the hiring process but after. Just, again, sitting down and talking to them. We talked in previous podcasts, Steve, about annual reviews are sort of done, and you need to do ongoing communication. This is what we’re talking about is making sure that you’re listening to this demographic group, specifically what their aspirations are. Are they achieving those in your company? Again, mentoring and leadership. I mean, tie a millennial in your company to a mentor that’s kind of been there for a while, been done that. Help them drive some of these attributes through as well.[00:07:21]SYAbsolutely. Well, I think in – I’ll preview the second topic for you is they’re eager to expand their skills and knowledge base to go along with that. But what does that mean? I mean, what is expanding?[00:07:34]SPYes. So let’s think about – So they’re eager to learn and expand your skills. So what does that mean? If they’re asked to do something – We did this with Taylor. As we started this podcast, we said, “Taylor, help us figure out how to record this, how to edit it.” She took it upon herself to get trained on all of these things. Now, we had to give her sort of that, “Please go do it.” But that allowed her to increase her skills that she can now use not only for our podcast but for others in our company that are going to do future podcast. She really enjoyed it. She was frustrated by it, because it was already like all learning on her own. But it was something that after the fact now that she looks back, she really now takes it as a positive learning skill.[00:08:20]SYSo how does one know, and I know we talked about this prior to recording but benchmarking my growth versus my peers and other companies. What do you mean by that?[00:08:30]SPSo one of the things you need to do is obviously look at what you’re doing at your company. But how do you know you’re doing everything that you can that this demographic wants to do? So look at your peers. So if you’re in a software as a service company, try to figure out through networking, through other avenues, what are they doing to provide those opportunities for millennials. Are they do something unique? It’s always easier to copy than to come up with something on your own. Copying isn’t a bad thing in this case. It just might be something you haven’t thought of before. So benchmarking with peers and another leading companies. So it’s doesn’t have to be in your industry. But it could be a company that you respect a lot that hires a lot of millennials. So you’re like, “Well, they probably have some programs. Let’s find out what those are.”[00:09:19]SYWhat have they learned, right?[00:09:20]SPRight.[00:09:21]SYAwesome. All right. What’s next?[00:09:24]SPMillennial really like to be at a company that is financially performing and strong. They want to be on a winning team. They value that stability that a financially solid company provides, and they’re a little maybe risk-averse from that perspective.[00:09:43]SYSo let me ask you this, going off script a little bit. But if I’m working in target, all the financials are published every quarter, sometimes monthly. You know exactly how healthy obviously its target. You know your job is more than likely pretty conservative target. It’s not going to go bankrupt and close their doors, right?[00:10:03]SPYeah. Probably not [inaudible 00:10:04]. Yeah.[00:10:05]SYSo you always know kind of where the company is at from a high level inside of a public company. But most companies are privately held. What guidance would you give executives that are leading a privately held company that typically doesn’t disclose financials because they are private? How would you help millennials feel or what information would you provide them if you’re in a private company?[00:10:32]SPWell, let’s hold that, Steve, until the last one where we talked about open and transparent communication.[00:10:39]SYAll right. Check.[00:10:40]SPWe’ll hold that –[00:10:41]SYWrite that down, Taylor. Make sure we don’t forget about it.[00:10:42]SPBut that’s a great question, and I think there’s some strategies and tactics that those companies can employ.[00:10:48]SYSee. That’s what I get for going off script.[00:10:49]SPIt’s okay. I got it.[00:10:50]SYWe’re in the rhythm.[00:10:52]SPWe’re back.[00:10:53]SYWhat’s the next one?[00:10:53]SPIt kind of tied the financial performance. They want to be with a company that has a track record of being successful. Have they been continuing to grow? Are they doing acquisitions? They want to be part of a winning team. So, again, looking – Before you get hired as a millennial, I know what you do. You’re doing Google searches. You’re looking at Glassdoor. You’re looking at stories. You’re looking at different things about that company, the leadership, people they’ve hired to see are they successful and other people that they hired. Are they successful? So, again, another thing to do is to make sure that you’re talking about during the hiring process as well about the successes that you’ve as a company.[00:11:37]SYCool. All right. So we have four left.[00:11:40]SPYes. So millennials – Again, this demographic. I hate using the word millennial. But this demographic of employees likes to be at a purpose-driven company. What does that mean? It can be twofold. One, the company can have a purpose like we have a pacemaker, so we’re saving lives certainly with our product. But if you’re a company that doesn’t have that, what are other things that they can do? So the community involvement that that company could be in charities they support, Christmas and other holidays that they support in the community. That can be the purpose-driven part of the organization that a millennial can really tie themselves to.[00:12:19]SYSure. No. That makes sense, and I think to be able to show up and articulate what are you doing. I mean, like us as an example. I mean, we’re going to help companies thrive and grow through the acquisition of key and top talent. But on the flipside, we’re also helping the individuals. We’re placing candidates, finding maybe a different career path. But all of that success allows us to get back to the community, right?[00:12:44]SPIt’s a great way to say it.[00:12:45]SYYeah. It makes sense. So if I’m a manufacturer of recycled plastics and I turn it into lumber, I mean, what’s my purpose? I mean, I have some ideas. But, I mean, how do you – I mean, but taking that type of example, I mean, how do you give purpose to millennial if you’re a manufacturer of a widget that goes into a component that eventually ends up in a car?[00:13:13]SPGood question. There’s a lot of intricacies with that question. But, again, I get back to it really is – It doesn’t matter as much about what you make or do. Again, some companies are more, “Hey! We’re making life-saving devices.” Other ones are, “We’re recycling plastic to make it into plastic lumber,” that they use on decks. Well, the purpose there is we’re not putting that plastic in landfills, right?[00:13:38]SYSure.[00:13:38]SPSo we’re manufacturing boards at the end of the day, but really we stopped a piece of the chain that’s causing pollution that we want to get rid of.[00:13:47]SYThat’s a great example. It makes a ton of sense.[00:13:49]SPAnother area that millennials really, really thrive in is having a consistent and authentic message about the company’s mission and vision. Again, does the company live those key components of mission and vision? If we just have it printed on the wall but we don’t do it, millennials will see that very readily after they start that you might get them here. You’re not going to keep them without following on that mission and vision that is so important.[00:14:18]SYWell, it goes back to you got to deliver in the workplace, right?[00:14:21]SPRight.[00:14:22]SYLike you mentioned earlier. Absolutely. Okay. Two left.[00:14:26]SPIt’s not surprising. Millennials really love strong leadership. It really helps them feel good about their company. They’ve got a captain at the helm of their ship that you believe in all of the other attributes that the CEO or owner of the company is really driving to. So really, key leadership, executive leadership is a really important component to the millennials.[00:14:52]SYYeah. I think that one probably resonates through all generations. But I think it’s still worthy to highlight for the millennials. But if you don’t have strong leadership and you’re not delivering on your promise, your vision every day, I don’t care if you’re a millennial or a baby boomer. You’re probably going to look elsewhere.[00:15:11]SPI’ll give you an example of maybe the opposite side of that is the generation that never left their jobs that they were 20, 30 years into a company. I’ve known some people who have relatively done that, and they didn’t believe in the leadership of the company. But they never – They’re in a different mindset in terms of staying with the organization. So even though their leadership may not have been what they would consider great, they still stay with the company. So it’s just a little bit of a change over the generations. But it’s been a slow change, obviously, from Gen X all the way now to millennials.[00:15:48]SYGot it. All right. The last one which you previewed, open and transparent communication.[00:15:54]SPYes. So this is where we talk about how the company is doing. You spoke a little bit earlier about what if they don’t want to share the detailed profitability of the company? There are metrics that you can still share with the organization about, “Hey! We grew the last quarter 15% in revenue.” So you make it a little less specific but positive in the sort of the directional that areas that we’re going. So I think they want to know are we growing, are we hiring. All those things are important. So keeping those things in mind. Again, every company has got to kind of slice theirs up a little bit different, depending on if they’re privately held versus publicly held.[00:16:39]SYI know that makes a ton of sense. Awesome. Well, we crammed eight into this podcast. So we went fast. But I think each one of them carry a ton of weight in both the traction and retention of millennials. I think too, I mean, if you’re focusing on these eight for the millennial generation, the rest of the generations in your workplace are going to benefit from it as well.[00:17:06]SPMy guess is even though Generation Z or I or whatever letters were given, the newer people to the marketplace, my guess is these are going to resonate with that group as equally as strong as the millennials. So I don’t think we’re going to have a big switch in terms of expectations from this group.[00:17:28]SYAwesome. Well, thanks for that insight. Next week, we have a guest. We’re going to bring in what we talked about in previous podcasts, the importance and the value that executive peer groups bring. So we have one of those peer group chairs coming in to kind of share his thoughts on peer groups and what they bring to the table. So it’s Wayne from Vistage is going to come in. I think he has four different peer groups that he chairs. So we’re excited to bring him into the podcast next week as well.[00:18:05]SPI’m excited. He’s going to share things around the positive and transformational changes that happen by being part of a peer group and being able to leverage those peer groups to help your company grow and succeed. It’s going to be great.[00:18:19]SYWell, I’m looking forward to that. As always, if you want to get a hold of Scott, you can look him up on LinkedIn and/or If you like what you hear each week when you tune in to us, feel free to subscribe to the Inside Executive Search Podcast on all your favorite podcast channels. We’ll see you next week.[00:18:37]SPSounds good.[00:18:38]SYAll right. Take care.

    [00:00:02] ANNOUNCER Get ready for your weekly dose of talent, strategies, and tactics from industry leaders to help you attract, select, and retain your top talent. You’re listening to Inside Executive Search with Steve Yakesh and Scott Peterson.
    [00:00:23] SY Hello and welcome to the Inside Executive Search Podcast. My name is Steve Yakesh. This podcast is for board members, business owners, and executives, seeking strategies and tactics to retain the very best. If you’re struggling or not feeling confident that you have a plan to attract the very best, keep listening. This podcast will help you get there. That said, I’d like to welcome in everybody’s fan favorite, Scott Peterson from Versique Search.
    [00:00:55] SP Hello, everybody. Good to be back this week, and we’re going to switch it up a little bit.
    [00:00:59] SY We are.
    [00:01:01] SP We’re going to go deeper into the organization and talk about some interesting things that most of us have heard about and that a lot of us struggle with.
    [00:01:09] SY Still scratching our head, right?
    [00:01:10] SP We are.
    [00:01:11] SY All right. So this is for business owners and executives that have difficulty answering the million-dollar question. How do we hire and retain millennials? Right?
    [00:01:23] SP Right.
    [00:01:24] SY Yeah. So we’re going to go through eight strategies today that we’ve researched, we’ve seen firsthand through interviews and talking to a lot of our board members, executives in our network, and then doing a lot of research. We kind of curated them into eight topics, right?
    [00:01:44] SP Yeah. They’re kind of the eight top things that really helped drive that attraction and retention of millennials.
    [00:01:50] SY That should be the title of our podcast. That was good.
    [00:01:53] SP That’s just right. That just came out of nowhere.
    [00:01:55] SY Taylor, do you like that? Did you write it down?
    [00:02:18] TC I do.
    [00:01:57] SP Just by the way, so Taylor is sitting over here as our executive podcast central, command central –
    [00:02:04] SY Guru.
    [00:02:05] SP Guru, which is also millennial. So we’re getting head nods of, “Yes, this is right on,” or getting a no. So we may have her jump in to give her opinion on some of this as we go.
    [00:02:16] SY Perfect. Mini guest host.
    [00:02:18] SP Yeah. A little mini. Yeah. Unexpected guest.
    [00:02:20] SY So let’s define the millennials, who are they, and the upcoming generation as well, Gen Z.
    [00:02:26] SP Correct.
    [00:02:27] SY Or Gen I. I’ve heard a million different. I think anybody settled on what the next generation officially is called. But the millennial population is born between 1981 and 1996. If math is right, that puts the oldest of the millennials at what? 34 or 35 years old?
    [00:02:47] SP Yup. Right in there.
    [00:02:48] SY Right in there. Then we have Gen Z, is what we’re going to go with today, which is the following generation, and that’s anybody obviously born 1997 or later, right?
    [00:02:57] SP That’s correct. Yup.
    [00:02:59] SY So we’ve also talked to a lot of HR executives and other leaders within the organizations and kind of the quote that kind of keeps resonating or becoming a common theme is I just don’t know what they want. The employers are struggling to recruit and also retain millennials. We have some stats to kind of prove that out as well.
    [00:03:21] SP Yeah. People, they just struggle, because it’s not the things that – This demographic. We should also tell you that this demographic is now the largest employer group by numbers. So the fact that we’re still having to talk about it is alarming, because we should be all over this from how do we attract and retain these this demographic. Millennials sometimes comes across as a bad word like they don’t work hard. They’re lazy. None of that is farther from the truth. So we just want to help people kind of understand what really motivates and really gets this demographic excited about going to their company every day.
    [00:04:03] SY Absolutely. Well, before we jump into our eight topics or keys that we want to talk about today, a few stats that I think are relevant to the conversation. So the millennials in a recent poll, 21% of millennials changed jobs in the last 12 months. So that’s one out of every five leaving. I think if anybody surveys their organization, if they have 20 millennials in an organization, they’re losing five of them every year. How do you stop that bleeding?
    [00:04:36] SP I’m no mathematician, but 20% seems kind of high.
    [00:04:39] SY Yeah. That’s a high turnover rate. So then within that survey as well, 60% of the millennials said that they would leave or they are open to a new opportunity if something better came along. So these eight tactics, strategies you’re going to walk us through will hopefully take that 60% and just keep it at 60% that they’re still open. But they’re not going to leave, because the company is addressing the millennial population within the workplace. Well, let’s dive right into it. So one through eight, it’s all yours, Scott.
    [00:05:18] SP Yes. So these are the key attributes that matter most to millennials. Making sure we step back during the hiring process that we emphasize that these attributes are within their company. So we’ll talk more specifically. Then once they’re on board, you have to deliver all these attributes. You can’t just talk about them. You have to actually live them. So, again, these are really key for this demographic to really be engaged and really be dedicated to stay in your company, growing with your company as well.
    [00:05:51] SY I think – To interrupt you, sorry, but when you say deliver in the workplace, I mean, I think if I want to draw an analogy, it’s a company that says, “Here’s our core values.” But they just sit on in a picture frame on a wall. They’re not really core values, right?
    [00:05:51] SP Right.

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