5 ways to attract and retain millennial talent

October 22, 2018

In the United States, wages are climbing  and unemployment is at its lowest rate in nearly 50 years. However, a healthy economy also means a tight labor market – especially for manufacturers. This intensified competition for top talent is complicated further by another factor: changing demographics.

Baby boomers are retiring, and millennials now account for the largest population in the workforce. And as many manufacturers know, this generation of workers presents both challenges and unbridled opportunities for employers.

So how can employers in the foodservice industry attract the segment of the workforce – about 75 million strong – born between about 1981 and 1996? Here are five ways to attract – and keep – millennial workers.

1.  Clearly outline and communicate learning and advancement opportunities

Having come into their own during the Great Recession and a technological revolution, millennials place high value on the opportunity to grow and learn. In separate responses to the Tooling U-SME Millennial Survey, 72 percent answered saying they are more likely to value opportunities for career advancement and the chance to learn new skills respectively – both much higher than their older colleagues. Plan for this. Promote that you have clear growth paths and training in job posts and when you promote jobs, and clearly communicate them as a candidate progresses.

2. Educate on Industry 4.0

Our manufacturing members know Industry 4.0, the digitally connected manufacturing facility and supply chain, well – and so do millennials. However, they don’t feel ready for it. According to the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey, only 36 percent believe they have the skills and knowledge they’ll need to thrive. It’s coined Industry 4.0 for a reason; it’s widely considered the next industrial revolution. If you can position yourself as an employer that can help millennials prepare for it, it will help you win the competition for their employment.

3. Develop a rich corporate culture

Deloitte found that 43 percent of millennials expect to leave their job within two years. That’s a challenge for any business operation. A workplace that’s fun, exciting and diverse has great appeal.

Flexibility is also a key factor. When possible, offer opportunities to earn flexible hours and bonus time off. What’s realistic here undoubtedly varies among organizations, but think about what you and your business can do specifically: can you let employees work remotely once a week? Or let them choose their morning start time?

4. Promote your sustainability and community efforts

In their survey of more than 10,000 millennials, Deloitte found that only 48% of them believe businesses behave ethically; that’s an opportunity.

Millennials actively seek out workplaces that support social initiatives. When given the choice, millennials are more likely to work for the businesses that aim to make the world a better place, i.e., companies that reduce food waste or focus on decreasing energy use in the kitchen.

And it’s a trend manufacturers across the board are adopting. Many organizations have already begun to implement admirable and inventive green initiatives.

5. Don’t generalize

Historically, millennials have gotten a bad rap: they don’t work hard; they don’t respect authority; they’re entitled. But when it comes to this demographic – one that holds advanced degrees at a higher rate than any other and is more focused on driving sustainable business – don’t make assumptions. As a generation that grew up in both a recession and a hyper-connected era, they’re smart, skeptical and more likely to challenge “the way things are done around here” – which is what many of today’s manufacturers need.

Just as any successful business adapts its products and services to better serve changing customers and technologies, adjusting to attract this undeniably important part of the workforce is key. Ten, 20, 30 years from now, you and those that come after will be glad you did.


Categorized in: Featured, For Operators