The Aging Workforce: Two Ways to Attract Fresh Talent

by Dave Lindstrom

Starting a business on your own requires the ability to take a risk by doing something different. Once that business has become relatively successful, that risk-taking trait seems to fade. Those same entrepreneurs that branched out on their own become complacent and rely heavily on the processes that allowed them to grow their business from scratch. However, history has repeatedly taught us that the most destructive phrase in business is, “this is the way we have always done it.” Times have changed and how people do business has forever changed as well.

I recently had the opportunity to speak in front of a group of small business owners at an event for the North Central Electrical League, a group of companies in the electrical and construction industry. The topic of discussion was how the industry needs to change in order to attract the next generation of workers.

In recent years, the workforce in the electrical and construction industry has aged faster than most other industries. There simply hasn’t been talent to catch up with the number of retirees. My presentation focused on how those organizations could do things differently and attract fresh talent.

The challenge facing the electrical and construction industry is how to educate candidates of today about the benefits of working in the industry if they have never been exposed to it. Most organizations have been slow to adopt new communication tactics like social media, instead relying on what has worked in the past. Today’s employees have vastly different motivators than those of the past. When it comes to hiring and retaining “millennial” talent, there are two main concepts many companies need to re-evaluate.

The first concept to update is that organizations need to communicate with the next generation of workers where they are communicating: social media. When someone under 30 is looking for information about anything, they go to the internet. They spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. As the most connected generation, they expect organizations to be just as connected.

Looking for their next job opportunity is no different. In addition to looking at company websites, they are watching videos, reading blogs, checking out the company’s Facebook page, following their Twitter feed; gaining information about the company and its culture anywhere they can. If your potential employees are doing their research online, your company needs to be using those venues to attract and educate those candidates.

The other concept that companies seemed to have neglected is their ability to creatively compensate their employees. Money is surely a motivator, but it has become slightly less important to the next generation of workers in their decision to accept an offer or not.

Many millennials put just as much emphasis on time off and/or a balance between work and home. The option to work remotely, offering your employees the flexibility of not being chained to a desk for 10-12 hours a day, is a great way to differentiate your company. A number of these “new age” ways of thinking have gained attention in recent years as ways for a company to differentiate itself from others in the market and attract the next generation of talent.

By embracing new channels of communication, like social media, and by offering unique forms of compensation, the companies of the North Central Electrical League, and companies from other industries across the country, will be introducing themselves to their next generation of great employees.

How does your company attract top new talent?

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