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How to attract and retain millennials

Jon Gilbert, NGA ResourceLink product manager

According to a study from the World Economic Forum, millennials are seeking ‘a sense of purpose’ in the job they choose. This requirement ranks second only to salary.  Millennials want a work environment that inspires and motivates them. And being a digital savvy generation, they can balk at the mundane realities of paperwork, when what they really want to do is make a difference in the world.

This “everything now” culture, where almost anything they want is available at the touch of a button is putting pressure on employers, who are expected to deliver a digital environment that meet their needs.

Many organisations have introduced cloud-based productivity and collaboration apps.  The same digital touch points need to be available throughout the business.

A digital mindset

Over half of millennials (53%) say they’d rather lose their sense of smell than forgo accessing their devices – with smartphones, tablets and wearable technology literally at their fingertips. This kind of technology is ingrained within almost all aspects of their lives.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that they find it frustrating when they must wait for requests, such as booking holiday leave, to be processed – especially when poised to book a last-minute holiday on the internet.

What makes this more serious is that millennials aren’t afraid to leave companies where their expectations are not met. According to, 53% of 18-29-year-olds are currently thinking about their next job opportunity, with a quarter planning to leave in the next six months. And when replacing an employee can cost up to 300% of their salary, a high millennial turnover can be costly for businesses.

Building a working environment from the basics up

So what practical steps should companies take to create the kind of digital work environment which will not only attract top millennial employees, but encourage them to stay? Any digital transformation project can be an intimidating prospect but, just like building a house, you should start by putting solid foundations in place. They may not be the most visible part of the build but it’s integral.

And if you want to improve the employee experience you need to start with they manage their time and attendance. Staff should be able to clock-in, check hours worked and resolve any pay discrepancies quickly and easily using digital channels. They should also be able to view their annual leave days and book holidays online without fuss or hassle.

Digital solutions, such as self-service portals, allow employees to take control of these working arrangements. These tools enable further efficiencies, however, freeing up employees to concentrate on their work.

Putting these systems in place may not seem as glamorous as some of the more visible gimmicks designed to attract millennials, such as providing office workers with free food or vending machines full of beer. But these systems do a lot more to empower employees. While they are helping to meet the heightened expectations of the millennials, they are also helping to create efficiencies that benefit both employees and employers. 

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