A New Generation of Recruiting Challenges

by: David Barfield, Bartech CEO

Access to talent is critical to achieving organizational objectives. In a sellers’ market, with demand for skills far outpacing supply, many employers find themselves struggling to fill key positions. Talent shortages are not new, however. What compounds the challenge of finding talent in today’s market is a fundamental shift in the nature of the workforce, due in large part to demographics. With the massive exit of Baby Boomers already underway, their majority position has been overtaken by Millennials, whose beliefs and behaviors are quite different from previous generations. To attract these younger workers—born after 1980—employers must first understand them and then ensure that their organizational policies and practices align with what these workers want.

What Distinguishes the Millennial Workforce?

  • The newest generations in the workforce are more highly educated and more tech savvy
  • They are socially conscious and expect their employer to be as well
  • They want to understand the big picture and their role in it
  • They gravitate toward companies that have a clear mission and consistent follow-through on that mission
  • They are quick to embrace change and completely comfortable working on diverse teams
  • They welcome challenges and bring a “can do” attitude to their jobs
  • They do not thrive in a more traditional, command-and-control or paternalistic structure
  • They are forward-focused in terms of career mobility and expect an employer to actively support their pursuit of learning and development opportunities
  • They place a premium on work/life balance

Attracting a New Generation

For the past 40 years or more, young people have followed a familiar path, moving from school to the workforce just as their parents did. They accepted low-level entry jobs, kept their heads down as they put in their time, paid their dues and gained experience before moving up the career ladder. That model no longer seems to work. In fact, some Millennials forgo it altogether, jumping into entrepreneurship straight out of school. In a survey of Millennials by Bentley University, only 13% of respondents said their career goal involves climbing the corporate ladder, while almost two-thirds (67%) expressed a desire to start their own business.
It’s a new day, and for many employers, that means a willingness to make some adjustments in the way they operate their businesses to ensure they appeal to the newest generation of innovators. Otherwise, the search for talent will take longer, cost more and result in less-than-stellar hires.

Refreshing the Look, the Feel and the Soul of an Organization

When you have been in business for more than 40 years, young and energetic may seem unrealistic labels, but being viewed positively as a potential employer to Millennials has less to do with age and more to do with attitude. At Bartech, that has meant discovering that what appeals to younger workers was already established in our company. We just needed to refresh our brand and repackage it. Let me explain.
This is not about chasing the buzz of the day. It is about being both relevant and consistent. Companies that don’t truly practice what they preach are quickly found out. At Bartech, we wanted the newest generations to know that we truly believe in the same things they do. These workers are very conscious of giving back and seek out companies they feel are responsible in terms of their commitment to quality, to their employees and to the communities they serve. These three tenets happen to be the founding principles of our company: Quality, Fairness and Corporate Citizenship.
So refreshing our brand didn’t require us to revamp our operating philosophy, but we did make a number of subtle changes that support our commitment to transparency, mission and work/life balance.

For example:

  • We moved into a new facility that is designed with transparency in mind. Our offices are bright, colorful and energetic, with lots of open spaces and glass walls
  • We recognize and are reminded every day of our how we began and how we intend to continue—from the portrait of our founders to the principles emblazoned in our boardroom
  • We turned our strategic pillars into art to reinforce the values we share with our team and wove these into the design of our work space, naming each of our conference rooms using words that are meaningful to us: agility, integrity, focus, leadership, collaboration, innovation
  • We encourage employees to work anywhere in the facility that promotes high performance and collaboration, so no one is handcuffed to their desk.
  • We revamped our systems and processes so a majority of our employees have the ability to work from home on either a full- or part-time basis, creating greater balance in their lives while letting them know that we have a high degree of trust in them
  • We communicate with greater regularity and openness than ever before, because we want our employees to understand our goals, our strategy and their part in both
  • We partner with our employees to support the community in ways that are meaningful to them: children, education and people less fortunate

While each of these actions makes us more compatible with Millennial employees, they have met with wide approval across every generation in our workplace.

Revamping How We Engage with Candidates

The advent of social media changed the way employers interact with candidates. We did more than introduce new ways of connecting with candidates; we re-engineered our approach, recognizing that recruiting is a two-way street. There has to be value delivered on both sides. Our goal is to get to know every candidate in a way that goes far beyond hard and soft skills. We want to understand their job goals and their career aspirations. It’s not just about what they can do for Bartech. It’s about retaining great talent. In order to nurture a long-term relationship, we both need to meet each other’s expectations.

Are You Ready for the New Workforce?

Access to talent and being relevant to that talent are significant workforce challenges. Attracting, engaging and retaining Millennials is like fishing in a brand-new pond. It requires new approaches and a new employment value proposition. If you can meet the expectations of this new generation, you will be better able to connect with an increasingly limited supply of high-quality talent. If you would like to learn more about how Bartech is connecting with the best candidates in every generation, please get in touch.