Tapping into younger talent can add dynamism to your agency. Andrew Doherty explains how to attract, retain and communicate with a Gen Y workforce.
Lazy and entitled or enlightened future leaders? Whatever your opinion of millennials, it’s likely you will end up working with, or indeed, employing them.
A report by the Institute of Leadership and Management, Workforce 2020: Managing Millennials, found that by 2020 Generation Y – comprising those born between 1980 and 2000 – will make up more than 50% of the UK workforce.
The research also revealed that a “significant generational disconnect exists between millennials and their older colleagues”, which could result in communication and retention issues. Statistics showed 57% of the millennial workforce expects to move jobs within two years, while 40% say they will switch jobs after one year.
So what’s the key to attracting millennial talent and, more importantly, keeping them working with you? We speak with experts in recruitment and training to glean their top tips.
Attracting millennials has been a hot topic in travel this year. In June, ITT’s Attracting Tomorrow’s Leaders Today panel tackled the subject during the conference in Split, while the Advantage Travel Partnership dedicated several sessions to the matter at its conference in Cadiz.
Barbara Kolosinka, director for C&M Travel Recruitment, spoke at the latter, advising travel agencies to take millennials seriously.
She tells TTG: “People believe millennials are lazy or work-shy – this isn’t true. They are not entitled, they are more empowered. They understand the benefits of flexible working hours and a healthy work-life balance.
“They also know that there are lots of alternatives out there, and therefore know they won’t have to work with one company for the rest of their lives. Unemployment is also lower right now, so there are plenty of places for them to go.”
With so much competition all fishing in the same talent pool, Kolosinka says it’s vital to write an attractive job advert.
“Good candidates will be looking at more than one job, so you need to stand out,” she advises. “You must show how you are different when distributing fam trips, organising training, and how you give back to the community – which is of high importance to millennials.
“All of this should be in the first three lines of the job advertisement. People spend three to five seconds reading an advertisement and will move on if it isn’t interesting.”
When it comes to getting your expertly crafted advert into the public domain, businesses must use every channel available to garner maximum exposure.
“From job boards and trade press to recruitment agencies and social media, travel agencies need to employ every method they can. Of course, the old fashioned card in the shop window and word of mouth can work wonders, too.”
For agencies with limited resources, working with a recruitment agency can ease the pressure, suggests Kolosinka.
“Don’t get frustrated when the agency starts asking loads of questions. The job description isn’t enough for a recruiter to get a true idea of what your business is all about,” she says.
The next step in the recruitment process – the interview – may identify the strongest candidates, but it’s also important for the interviewer to act in a certain way.
“Don’t be afraid to add a bit of your personality – ask the candidate about their lives and what they like to do in their free time. Keep every interview consistent, so you can have a like-for-like comparison between candidates. You should also balance the interview with biographical-based and competency-based questions.
“Asking them about what they know about the role and the company will show how much research they’ve done, but you can’t ask someone’s age or if they are planning on getting married or starting a family."
Now you’ve got your new millennial staff onboard, the next step is ensuring they stay with you.
Enter Jeremy Blake, co-owner and executive coach at Reality Training – a UK-based organisation specialising in sales, customer service, leadership and management training. He says managers and senior staff must inspire their millennial colleagues.
“Staff will respect you more if you get your hands dirty. If a manager isn’t clear on how the business works, or how to sell, then people won’t listen to them.”
Practical steps to retain millennials include developing a positive corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy and embracing the latest technology.
“Instead of guessing what a millennial wants, just ask them,” says Blake. “You can easily research responsible businesses’ practices. When it comes to technology, if a business doesn’t offer
innovative digital solutions, millennials will find it dull to work there.”
When addressing problems or issues brought up by millennial staff, Blake says to avoid making employees go through multiple channels to have it resolved.
“This stops gossip and staff being put off by your business practices,” he explains.
“Ultimately, the secret to retaining staff is to be kind – it’s as simple as that. That is more powerful than ambition and monetary rewards. People want to work in a pleasant environment.”
Paul McCarroll, owner of Paul McCarroll House Of Travel in Glasgow, currently employs four millennials.
How did you recruit your millennial staff?
I didn’t use traditional recruitment websites or a third-party agency. I posted the job on Facebook and Instagram. I think social media is the best way of getting the word out there. Of course, customers are also brand ambassadors, and they spread the news of vacancies very effectively.
What did you include in the job advertisement?
I focused on making it as exciting as possible, posing questions such as ‘how would you like to travel the world, have unforgettable experiences and make friends for life?’ You have to get them interested in your business.
What’s your approach to training younger staff?
Everyone undertakes the same training, regardless of age and experience. If you have an open mind, millennials can actually train you and bring fresh ideas to the table. If they come up with a plan that will benefit the business, then I’m onboard.
Has employing millennials helped attract a younger clientele?
In an unbelievable way. I think my younger employees are really hot on trends. I must be one of the only people that’s never watched Love Island, but one of my girls used her initiative to share holiday deals inspired by the show on social media. As a result of their efforts, we’re looking at a 40/60% split of millennials to older clients booking, while before it was about 10/90%.