SMPL Q&A: 3 questions on millennial talent and what employers can do to stay ahead with Anna Gaissert

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SMPL Q&A is a blog feature in which we interview experts on all things relevant to branding, design and simplicity. In this Q&A, we speak with Anna Gaissert, associate strategist, about millennial talent and what employers can do to stay ahead. 

How do employers recruit and retain their millennial talent?

I’m not sure millennial talent wants to be retained. We may be attached to our phones, but not to places, at least not in the traditional sense. Millennials are creators. We yearn to chart our own path and make an impact, begging the question: how do you keep us engaged in the twenty-first century workplace? If flexibility and permission, rather than bureaucracy and snail-paced processes, are the hallmarks of progressive employee engagement practices, how can companies begin to instill these pillars in the workplace?

Employers are being asked to treat their relationships with employees as just that: a relationship. Along this two-way street, culture, flexible work policies and opportunities for development are all meaningful forms of compensation and vital components in the dialogue between employer and employee.

What does the millennial workforce want?

As professional development and personal development bleed together, employees are becoming lifelong students. I am always looking for opportunities to refine my skills and build my toolkit. The motivation comes from knowing my limitations, the pace of change in today’s workplace, a hunger for knowledge and a desire to contribute. Specialized internal training and external training from professional education programs are spaces where millennials can explore fresh challenges. These experiences unlock new skills, increasing engagement by empowering employees to reimagine their roles and equipping them with a refreshed perspective to bring back to their company. Organizations like General Assembly promise to open doors and create new opportunities. Great employers shouldn’t fear this. The up-leveling of talent benefits everyone.

What can employers do to stay sharp?

In a world where employees are choosing to evolve, so must the employer. Effective work-from-home policies place a focus on employee productivity, rather than the number of hours they spend at their desk. Companies that are remaining competitive in the race for talent are prioritizing the activation of work cultures that enables employees to do their jobs from a place of convenience, focusing on objectives, rather than optics.

These companies also place value on strategically investing in their employer brands by conducting research, experimenting to redefine the right culture for their people, and creating full campaigns, or even dedicated departments, that invest 100% of their time in building a unified, human-centered organization.

Employer brands that are winning over the workforce of today are engaging the following approaches:

  • Evolving their value propositions to clearly communicate how an employee can make an impact and contribute to a greater purpose
  • Developing unexpected messaging and fresh visual language
  • Identifying ways to engage new candidates and employees across their journeys with the company’s brand—from both an individual and team perspective

The new workplace marries connection with freedom, offering all generations—not just millennials—the opportunity to learn, evolve and thrive.

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