Hiring Millennials? My Insider Tips On What Works

Maggie Chan Jones

Like all hiring managers, I want to get the best talent on board. What excites me is getting a highly diverse team across geographies, cultures, and generations. With a dramatic shift in the global workforce shaping up over the next five to ten years, millennials are highly sought after and already a competitive demographic in today’s talent pool. They are also  the largest share of the U.S. labor market today.

Why am I passionate about this generation? Two reasons: They are our future leaders and diversity of experience enriches all teams. However, I’m finding hiring and recruitment requires a different approach than with other people in my multi-generational team.

Right or wrong, this generation is becoming known for having little loyalty to employers. A Deloitte 2016 survey on millennials indicates that 25% would happily move onto something else within the next year, while 66% expect to leave their job by 2020. This number is even higher in emerging countries, rising to an average of 69%.

A feeling of under-utilization, lack of leadership development opportunities, and a need to align with their employer’s values are the primary reasons for this need to seek the next-best opportunity.

So how can companies win both the hearts and minds – or loyalty – of this generation?

Start with purpose – and build from there…

I believe that employers need to offer millennials a balance of growth opportunities, financial rewards, and perhaps most importantly, a sense of purpose that aligns with their personal values. In a recent TEDx talk, Adam Smiley Poswolsky, author of The Quarter-Life Breakthrough, shared how important purpose is to this demographic. In this talk, he refers to his peers as the ‘purpose generation.’

Poswolsky also noted doing work that matters is a measure of success for this generation, so much so that over 50% of millennials will take a pay cut to find work which matches their values. And this is all in the face of unprecedented levels of unemployment and high student debt.

The right balance leads to a greater sense of loyalty

I’ve found that the key to busting the millennial myth of the lack of loyalty is simply a matter of paying attention to what matters to this generation. When I can create a balance of a purpose-driven corporate philosophy, meaningful opportunities, and just compensation for work that is valued, I am rewarded by employees that stick around.

Here are a few tactics that I use to make sure this balance is in place.

  • Ensure work has importance and value. The work we offer this generation needs to be appealing and to help fulfill both their personal goals, as well as the company’s. I also encourage people on our team to take advantage of the rewarding opportunities our company offers to give back to society so they leave their mark on the world outside of work too.
  • Give regular feedback. This generation likes regular feedback and likes to check in with their supervisors – at least this is my experience. Make yourself available for frequent and quick alignments – it keeps the interest and the motivation up.
  • Do reverse-mentoring. It doesn’t have to be formal. I like to hold coffee corner sessions, roundtables, casual brown-bag lunches, and small group sessions with young employees. It’s not about me talking to them or giving them career advice – it’s finding out what resonates with them.

Leading by example

As an executive who tries to embody the vision and purpose of SAP to help the world run better and improve people’s lives, I take every opportunity I can to meet with all talents. I recently spoke at my graduate school alma mater, Cornell University, during the 2016 Symposium of the President’s Council of Cornell Women. I was on a panel that discussed “Building Success across Career, Life, and Me.” I met a lot of very accomplished women that day and really enjoyed going back to listen to the next generation of leaders this school is producing.

What are you willing to do to win the hearts and the loyalty of this generation that will be tomorrow’s leaders? To learn more about how SAP is empowering today’s youth, check out this video and visit here.


Maggie Chan Jones

About Maggie Chan Jones

Maggie Chan Jones is CMO of SAP, responsible for leading SAP’s global advertising and brand experience, customer audience marketing, and field and partner marketing functions across all markets. Her mission is to bring to life SAP’s vision to help the world run better and improve people’s lives through storytelling, and to accelerate company growth. A career-marketer in the technology industry, Maggie has held a succession of roles at Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and other technology companies.