International Finance
Ideas Magazine March-April 2019

The changing face of business

The changing face of business
Millennials are hard to crack. How to appeal to a younger demographic and retain their attention for a longer span is a challenge that needs to be reacquainted.

The discussion of alienated and apathetic millennials has fuelled a debate on their relationship with the global business landscape. To some, millennials are seen as highly motivated and driven individuals, grateful to have begun escaping their looming student debt with a long overdue steady income. On the other side of the ‘coin’, there are those who brand them as lazy, drifters, and entitled as they lack the drive to get to where they want to be. Somewhat ironically, it is those businesses with a negative outlook on young people that struggle to appeal to both: younger audience and retain employees who walked out the door.

With a great depth of world-renowned universities, the UK is undeniably a haven for employers’ seeking highly-skilled and economically active young people. Naturally, this should lend to employers an unbelievable opportunity to ‘cherry pick’ those individuals most suited to their company culture and future job requirements—from a diverse and well sourced labour pool. In other words, the UK market is primed for businesses recruiting skilled graduates. Therefore, the issue is not significant to the relationship millennials have with the business world. It is the relationship businesses have with the millennials within.

Since my acquisition of Absolute Corporate Events (ACE) in 2013, I have ensured to develop a business strategy based upon people, rather than just numbers which makes ACE home to some of the UK’s leading event industry professionals with a visible growth of 400%.

Below, I note three vital themes to consider when questioning the relationship your business will have with its staff, in particular while recruiting and retaining young employees.

Trust your investment  

Trust is not something to be taken lightly, by all means. It is important to trust your new hires to perform to the standards set by your business. This might require a certain level of training before a graduate can be prepared to face the client or attend new business pitches. However, it is absolutely important to provide opportunities that will allow them to prove themselves and have some legitimate responsibility in their work without which they might begin to feel undervalued. And once they feel undervalued, the prospect of working somewhere else is not only more appealing but also feasible. Too often we see businesses becoming complacent about their workforceand in turn, this results in businesses being ‘lazy, drifters and entitled’. If you don’t take your employees for granted, they’re not so likely to take their job for granted.

Offer career progression

Young people aren’t taking on anywhere upward of £35,000 debt just to be part of a stigma and have a three-plus year party. In fact, for the most part, they are highly ambitious and charismatic individuals in search of opportunities that will take them to the next level.

Creating a work culture that encompasses training and opportunity, in my experience, has encouraged young hires to stay within the industry for a long time. Millennials are not ignorant to the fact that they need training. Universities certainly help them to develop social skills, but the theoretical matter learned is rarely applicable to the demands of their ‘adult job’.

Therefore, having a clearly defined and invigorated training and promotion scheme can be a valuable asset to employers with young people reporting into them. It is important to exercise training to develop employee potential, offer promotions to incentivise this training and sustain the access to further promotions as a form of intrinsic motivation. Promotions don’t necessarily have to be based on an increased salary, and more often than not it is seen as the only means of retaining employees. The reality, however, is that businesses should also be able to sell their employees better work conditions.

Chris Parnham
Chris Parnham
Managing Director, Absolute Corporate Events

Growing responsibilities and job title changes are highly effective ways of rewarding employees. It can also serve as a valuable indication to clients that trusting your employees and wanting to retain them because of the confidence they show is a useful tool in encouraging clients to reciprocate their behaviour.

Reward and recognition is another valued structure than promotion or advancement as carefully positioned meaningful rewards show employees that you truly care about them and their contribution. This in turn will encourage them to become more productive.

Be transparent

It is worth taking note that when businesses make assumptions of what’s appealing to graduates, they deceive both themselves and their potential hires. Appealing aesthetics such as bright coloured walls, ping-pong tables and sleeping pods are not always effective forms of enticement for ‘top’ employees at least. And by this I refer to those who are looking to upskill their performance at work.

Actively seeking counsel of new hires when making an informed decision can be a good start for employers. Incorporate and empower your teamat no extra cost. The truth is, you have no obligation to act upon the recruit’s counsel; it will simply enable you to create a positive perception of the business and encourage growth and career development.

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