It’s safe to say that 2015 truly became “the year of digital technology.” Yes, we’ve seen a rapid evolution in technology over the last decade or so, but 2015 was definitely the year where those advancements made a huge impact on the workforce, especially when it comes to HR and recruitment.
According to the latest Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, the Millennial workforce (adults ages 18 to 34) is close to 54 million strong and rising, surpassing the Boomers in 2014, and this year toppling Gen X as the biggest cohort in our modern labor force. This unique—and massive—generation and the influence they wield is something that can’t be ignored, and had a massive impact on how businesses adjusted their strategies and employment practices in 2015.
Of course, technology as a whole has crept into every part of our daily lives. Mobile devices, wearables, Everything as a Service (EaaS), the Internet of Things—no matter where we turn or what we do, technology plays a role. It’s only natural of course, that technology has had—and will continue to have—an impact on the workforce and, by extension, HR and recruitment. Let’s take a look at the changes we saw in 2015, and what we can expect for the future.
Baby Boomers Heading Out, Millennials Stepping In
Once the backbone of the nation’s workforce at about 66 million employees, the youngest Boomer today is 51 years old, while the oldest are approaching age 70. With more Boomers retiring every year, the size of this particular workforce will continue to shrink. Millennials’ ranks have swelled to fill the gap, with Gen Z (those born between 1995 and 2010), soon entering the workforce as well. As Millennials and Gen Z become the major players in today’s working society, businesses of all sizes are finding it necessary to modify many aspects of their HR and recruitment practices to adapt and adjust. A recent article shared some interesting stats, on Millennials in particular, and how they see their work worlds:
- Sixty-four percent of this group say it’s a priority for them to make the world a better place.
- The definition of “boss” has changed. In fact, 72 percent of Millennials would like to be their own boss. But if they do have to work for a boss, 79 percent prefer that boss to act more as a coach or mentor.
- Eighty-eight percent would choose a collaborative work-culture rather than a one based on competition.
- Seventy-four percent want flexible work schedules—including the option to work from home.
- And scratch the concept of “work-life balance.” As technology has allowed work and life to blend seamlessly these days, today’s up-and-comers, a full 88 percent, expect “work-life integration” to be a natural part of their employment experience.
These represent some big changes in the world of work, and the companies who understand, embrace this new mindset, and adapt accordingly, will be well positioned to not only attract, but also retain, this new workforce demographic.
Social Media’s Impact on HR and Recruitment
The entire recruitment marketing game has changed. Listing a position on Monster.com, Craigslist, or some other online job search site doesn’t cut it anymore. Instead, social media has become an outlet for nearly everything HR and recruitment related: Sourcing new talent, promoting your company and its culture, sharing job opportunities, and also keeping an eye on what competitors are up to. Nearly 80 percent of job seekers now use social media when sourcing opportunities. And those younger generations? Almost 90 percent of them see social job searching as the new normal. Social media can also help small- to medium-sized businesses compete with larger, enterprise-level peers, allowing them to reach the same large pools of potential candidates, speed up the recruitment process, and reduce overall recruitment costs.
Millennials also have a completely different idea of what a career means, and understanding what they want directly affects our ability to retain them as employees. Millennials are talented and confident and, as the stats above clearly demonstrate, they are highly collaborative and value relationships—even with their managers. As a natural progression, social media, by its very nature, is about relationships. Being active online and using social for your HR and recruitment efforts helps build relationships with potential candidates. This helps not only attract potential candidates, both active and passive, but can also facilitate the hiring process as well.
The benefits for the company who aces social media recruitment are myriad: Increased candidate diversity, higher employee retention, higher candidate volume and, because you’ve already been transparent online about your company and what it is you have to offer, and you’ve been actively building social relationships with potential candidates, it can also result in a lower cost per hire. All in all, a win all the way around.
Honesty is the Biggest and Best Policy
Honesty, or what many call transparency, has become tremendously important to the workforce. Employees are becoming less tolerant of companies run in secrecy and policies made behind closed doors. A great corporate culture has become as important as good wages. In many instances, culture trumps compensation—and this doesn’t seem likely to change. Millennials in particular want to feel like a part of the company culture; it motivates them to do good work. But to feel like part of the team, they want to know about their workplace, and again, they’re not afraid to ask.
Millennials know they can simply take their talent elsewhere, and they will if they feel unfulfilled or deceived by management. A survey that spanned 20 countries found that 29 percent of Millennials feel that it would be easy to find another job if they weren’t happy—and that same number feel they don’t understand how their work impacts the company they work for. That’s a wakeup call for employers; staff members who have no clue why what they do what they do results in one thing: Poor performance.
Employees need clear goals set out for them, both short and long term, and they need to know the direct path they must take to achieve those goals. If your company is still holding its strategic cards close to the vest instead of being open and honest about your team’s future, consider making changes.
Learn from Companies on the Cutting Edge of HR Trends
I mentioned above how being active on social media can help you keep a close eye on your competition, especially when it comes to HR and recruitment. Watch for the true innovators, and learn from what they are doing when it comes to highlighting their company culture, benefits, and perks.
Zappos is a perfect example of a company always pushing the envelope, with a new twist on recruiting strategy. Recently, Zappos ditched posting jobs on their career site in favor of corporate transparency and building long-term relationships. When you land on their main page, you are introduced to Zappos team members. You can then choose a team that is most aligned with your personal skill set, and upload your resume through LinkedIn or Facebook (hello social media!) before being asked a few casual and engaging questions.
Southwest Airlines (a company that receives more applicants per position than Harvard) uses something called “scenario-simulation” to separate the wheat from the chaff. These exercises use problem solving, creative thinking, and collaboration skills similar to what may later be required on the job and while in-flight.
At Whole Foods, after completing their probationary periods, candidates’ coworkers vote to determine whether they should be hired permanently. That might sound slightly “Lord of the Flies’esque,” but if you’re looking to build a solid “fit-based” culture when it comes to hiring, who better to be the judge than a candidate’s fellow team members? Definitely worth considering.
Use Company Culture as a Perk
Ok, so you’ve adjusted your HR and recruitment processes for 2016 or at least have some things to think about and experiment with. You’ve now got a heavy focus on social media and transparency. You use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to complement your career site, which, of course, has a comprehensive list of benefits and corporate policies, as well as an honest depiction of your company’s core values. You’ve created a seamless digital trail of access and information for potential hires looking to peek behind the curtains of your company.
But does it work? The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, Zappos’ “digital and technology focused” hiring strategies, which incorporates everything mentioned here and much more, has landed the company on Fortune Magazine’s prestigious 100 Best Companies to Work For list. Their HR and recruitment strategies accurately measure exactly what Zappos hires for—50 percent talent and 50 percent ability to mesh with company culture.
In the information and technology age, it’s all about, well…information and technology. Workplace demographics have changed dramatically over the last decade, and will continue to change at an even more rapid rate during the next decade. Younger, more flexible thinking is required for every business to succeed in these new tech and digital driven waters, and that all starts on the ground floor, with hiring.
You don’t have to be a Zappos or Whole Foods, but you do have to keep your eye on changes that are happening in HR and recruitment, and make adjustments to your view on the entire recruitment, hiring, and retention processes. The future of the workplace is one that is culture-driven and thrives off of the honesty and happiness of its employees. I think that’s a good thing.
What do you think? Have you incorporated some of these strategies into your HR and recruitment processes? What have you discovered that you didn’t expect? What challenges did you face along the way? What do you see as the biggest hurdles to companies moving forward? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
A version of this post was published on TalentCulture on 1/7/2016.
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