Both Millennials and Generation Z already form an important part of the working population and will make up the majority of the workforce by 2025. Together they establish the first generation of ‘digital natives’ and have more formal education than their predecessors. Difficulties in attracting and retaining the best talent for their workforce is not a new challenge for most HR departments – and this is often highlighted when it comes to attracting the right young people to the business.
In a recent report from Robert Walters, their research found that over half of young talent reported that poor company culture was a source of disappointment in a new job. 75% of them also considered an engaging, social and fun workplace to be one of the more important parts of their job.
Interestingly, their findings also found that 59% of professionals have experienced intergenerational conflict at work. In the current workforce, there is often a wide mix of generations and ideas working together, so it’s easy to see how this might cause some conflict as new ideas are introduced and workplaces are shaken up a bit. What this makes clear is that organisations need to think carefully about their company culture, and potential strategies to ensure colleagues from different generations can work together positively and that they retain the best staff – young or old.
What is company culture?
Company culture can refer to a number of things, but it’s really the personality of your business. It can be defined by the work environment, company mission, values, work ethics, expectations and individual, team, and business goals.
Company culture is incredibly important, especially in startups and small businesses – with any luck your existing small team will all ‘gel’ really well, understand the way the office works, and all believe in the goals the company is striving to achieve. It’s really vital to make sure that any new hires are aligned with this too.
59% of Millennials already think that personality and cultural fit are the most important factors for employers when it comes to making new hires, so it makes sense that many young people seek to ensure they are well aligned to a company in this respect before applying. What this means is that employers need to be making sure they present an accurate and visible representation of their company culture across the board.
Here are our six tips for proactively getting started with and accurately promoting your company culture:
1. Start with the basics – your job ad
Crafting a good job advertisement can take a little bit of time, but getting it right is crucial when it comes to attracting young talent. There are numerous ways to promote the company culture alongside the actual job specifics.
What’s the day-to-day work environment like? Is it informal, formal, corporate or relaxed? Is the team all based in one open office or individual cubicles? Do people work from home? Do you promote team working on goals or does everyone work towards their own projects and targets?
Some people thrive on teamwork, others prefer more individual set projects – letting potential applicants know this type of information allows them to make a fully formed decision about working for you on a day-to- day level. The size of the team they’ll be working in and the levels of management are other useful information that you might want to consider adding to your job ads.
2. Workplace design is important
In research conducted by Mindspace and the research firm One Poll, they discovered that young people are placing a higher percentage of importance on the aesthetics and ‘vibe’ of their workplace, and they cited this as one of the crucial reasons for deciding to switch employers.
21% of the 18-24-year-olds surveyed admitted that they have rejected a potential employer because of the poor design of the office. Interestingly, 34% stated that they would be willing to commute up to an hour to a workplace they considered to be perfect. What this tells us is that workplace design is not a factor to be ignored when weighing up company culture and the perceived impact it has on young people.
“It’s insightful to see that so many graduates and young workers are turning their back on potential employers because of the poor design of their office. While many young workers in the UK still value a good workplace culture and a decent salary, employers need to start placing a much larger emphasis on the aesthetics of the office and fostering a more collaborative workspace in order to retain and attract the best young talent through their doors.”— Dan Zakai, co-founder and CEO at Mindspace
3. Use language that relates to your company
You can tell a lot about an organisation and their company culture by the language people use. This includes the way they use technical terms, make jokes, and use slang and metaphors. The language an organisation uses to describe themselves, their employees and their clients all feeds into the overall idea of the company culture. It’s prevalent in documents the company issues internally or externally, and through the formal or informal stories that the leadership and employees share.
Your company culture needs to be positively reflected in all of your communication, and this includes how you address and communicate with potential employees in your job ads, recruitment pages, interview communications, and on-boarding processes.
This also relates back to the type of environment you have. If it’s more formal and corporate, then use language and a tone that reflects this. If it’s the opposite, remember to use the right tone – don’t be afraid to use colloquial language that will appeal to the applicants you want.
The key point is to be consistent in how you talk about the business. You’re setting a tone you want the potential new hires to adhere to, and this can be set with the right and consistent use of language.
4. Don’t dismiss the details
The research conducted by Mindspace and One Poll found that benefits and perks are still really important for many UK millennials and Gen Z. In their research, 26% of 25-34-year-olds stated that a company’s benefits package (such as private medical care, childcare vouchers, ride to work schemes, flexi-time, and even dog walkers) is one of the most important factors when considering a potential employer.
There are usually a few small quirks to every workplace – little things that the employees/employers have set up just to make work more fun. It might be a weekly joke thread, a ping pong table, stocked drinks fridge on a Friday or a bring-a-cake-Monday – whatever it is that you do to lighten up the work day, mention it!
Benefits schemes, bonuses, team building days, community giving days – all of these things will appeal to the people who want to work for you because they’ll want to get involved too.
These details may appear insignificant, but they are the things that help build your company culture – so make sure you mention them. Again you can do this in your job ad, or through social media communication and company blogs.
5. Remember your company values
What are the core values of the organisation? What really stands out about the current team that highlights what company culture represents for them? Do you have an office full of analytical minds, problem-solving through the day? Is your value on the innovative solutions your company provides to your clients? Are you focused on honesty and integrity?
Many organisations will have a company values page, with mission statements and overall bigger picture company culture goals, but it’s worth drilling this down further and having each team provide their own set of values that align to their idea of company culture. These can still keep in line with the overall company picture while providing potential hires with a better insight into the individual team they’re entering.
If it’s innovation, mention some of the projects your team has worked on. If it’s honesty, don’t hold back on some of the nitty-gritty aspects of the role when writing up the job ad. Getting these things across will appeal to the right minds for your business and company culture.
6. Don’t shy away from progression and growth – but be honest
When young people start a new job, the things that attracted them in the first place need to become a reality. Gaining valuable experience from the start and knowing that their employer is as invested in their growth as they are is crucial for new hires. The research from Robert Walters found that over half – 53% – of new joinees have been disappointed by the lack of professional development and training in a new job role, and has consequently led to them switching employers.
69% of the Millennials surveyed cited a clear path for progression as the most important factor for keeping them engaged in their role. It’s therefore unsurprising that for young people just starting out, a clear career progression pathway is an effective motivator. The key is, to be honest from the outset about what they can expect from you in terms of training and progression. It’s worth noting that offering them every perk imaginable, but not delivering on these, is the quickest way to disenfranchise young people and lead them to seek another role elsewhere.
Understanding what motivates Millennials and Generation Z, as well as how they perceive potential employers and companies, is the starting point of attracting them to your organisation. And it is worthwhile remembering that company culture is one of the key decision factors that many young people cite when weighing up a potential workplace.