Are You Winning the Battle to Attract Young Workers to Your Company?

Do young workers like your company? And, should you care?

Seems like a simple enough question right? In HR we want all workers to love us — young (fresh out of school), young (just starting families), a little less young (kids in school), even a little less young (kids going to college, empty nesters, etc., etc.)

But what if they don’t like you? What if they are working for your company “begrudgingly?”

The Harvard Business Review asked a similar question recently but it wasn’t about workers, it was about customers in Do Your Younger Customers Even Like Your Company? by Andrew McAfee. He was looking at the model of financial-related institutions – traditional banks, insurance, investment firms, etc. — and found that most younger people really don’t like dealing with these types of institutions, primarily because of how they make them interact to do business with them.

Here’s the bad news …

There are two types of bad news here for the service providers.

The first one, obviously, is that these customers don’t like dealing with these companies. They do so because they need bank accounts, insurance policies, and retirement savings, but it’s never a good sign when someone does business with you begrudgingly.

The second piece of bad news is that the digital native viewpoint is spreading. Older people are adopting it as they “Friend” their kids on Facebook, read Kindle books, and use iPads. These experiences show them that Ike is no longer president and websites no longer have to stink. So over time, the dominant model is going to make sense to an ever-smaller proportion of customers.

Certain industries are classic in not really caring what certain populations of their customer base really think. I mean, let’s face it, the money isn’t coming from their younger customers (right now) so why put your energy and resources there? They’ll all get old eventually and then they’ll be the customer we want!

You see, the problem with that mentality is someone is going to figure it out. Someone is going to go all Google (maybe even Google – can you imagine Bank of Google?) and figure out how to interact with this population and get what little money they have – and they’ll then have their money and their business for life.

HR faces some of the same issues

In HR, companies face similar challenges. We always hear about the cool, hip places all the younger workers want to work, but we rarely hear about where they don’t want to work and how many companies struggle to get good talent — for the simple reason that your senior leadership doesn’t care about younger workers.

That’s a problem. It’s not a problem right now, it’s a problem five to 10 years from now when all the workers who do act like you want to retire.

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I get it – it’s tough. How do you become an employer of choice for a younger generation when your company, your culture, your leadership really doesn’t want to change?

That’s your first challenge – getting your senior leadership to realize there is a need to change (mostly their perception) about the need to infuse some younger workers into your workforce.

You better be winning the talent game

But it’s not just about adding some younger workers, it is about adding some younger workers who really want to work for your company, that would choose to work for your company over anywhere else – and not because it’s the only job they were offered.

Talent wins. If you aren’t getting it, if you aren’t winning the talent game, your company is slowly dying. And you don’t even see it; it’s like a slow-progressing disease. One day you’ll come to work 10 years from now and find your company is no longer competitive.

So, open your eyes old people – you do need young workers – and you need young workers who want to work at your company.

That takes change. That takes compromise. But you’ll both be better for it.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.

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1 Comment on “Are You Winning the Battle to Attract Young Workers to Your Company?

  1. You need the best person for the position, regardless of age. Any hiring decision that taes the age of competing applicants into consideration is discrimination and is immoral too.

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