7 ways to attract and retain millennials in your business


Businesses are already competing for millennials to replace their ageing workforces.

In just three years, 50% of the global workforce is expected to be millennials. Stereotyped as being “entitled and narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused and lazy”[i], its little wonder that businesses owners are becoming increasingly concerned that they’ll soon be unable to find the talent required to succeed, with a shortage of suitably skilled workers their single biggest worry[ii].

With businesses already competing for the best available workers and talent that will replace the ageing generation, it means that every year, more and more positions are being filled by graduate talent.

Despite the negative myths surrounding the current cohort of millennials and their values and behaviours, there is actually plenty of upside for businesses in the ‘new generation’.

It’s true that both corporate and small to medium enterprise firms’ face several challenges in attracting and retaining graduate talent, however the solution lies in identifying the factors influencing the relationships between graduates and the firm, and building best practice frameworks that can be practically implemented to help mitigate the negative outcomes often experienced by both parties.

The Perfect Marriage

Managing Director of financial planning talent resource firm, Grad Mentor, Alisdair Barr, says it’s not that millennials are entitled or unmotivated, it’s that there is often a misalignment between the expectations of employers and how graduates have been raised to view their career paths.

In his latest research paper The Perfect Marriage – The Graduate and the Firm, Barr is hoping to bridge the divide between graduate and employer expectations by revealing the 7 key drivers that will help improve relationships and offer employers a clear pathway to the ‘payback’ point, where their investment in the graduate returns cost.

1. Alignment of values

Values can be described as personal preferences or beliefs of what’s important to us. In order to be successful and share a unity of purpose, it is important for advice graduates to understand and share a firm’s vision.

This is one of the most important drivers of workplace performance and success in employer/employee relationships, and while these values can often be interpreted differently between generations, at their core, they are actually very similar.

Main things to consider are work ethic, attention to detail, ethical behaviour and responsibility.

2. Flexibility in work style

Member of older generations that were surveyed in the research tended to think that this simply meant that graduates wanted to work from home, which is not the case. Millennials view flexibility in working style as everything from adjusting hours to help minimise time spent in peak hour (i.e. working 10am-7pm), using more technology in their day-to-day processes, having a study/work balance, or even working remotely from other locations around Australia or the world.

University graduates have already shown they have the drive (with 3 or 4 years of education under their belt) and they also know they have purchasing power. They key for them is providing more opportunities, challenges and experiences that they can’t always get from spending 9am-5pm every day behind a desk.

3. Knowing the bigger picture

The millennial generation is more aligned to a greater cause and purpose than any generation before. This is demonstrated in the rise of social media, which allows them to voice their opinion and belong to a community on a bigger scale than ever.

Gone are the days when graduates were just happy with a job. Today they are looking for a career where that can make an impact. Grad Mentor’s research uncovered four ‘big picture’ factors held by respondents. These include vision, purpose, meaningful work and contributing to the firm.

4. Leadership Values

Leadership that is visible and consistent is well respected. Research shows terms such as ‘open door’ and ‘my opinion counts’ are valued when it comes to loyalty and satisfaction by graduates.

5. Regular Performance and Feedback

It pays for employers to give graduates clear feedback on their progress and ensure there is no ambiguity in these conversations as graduates strongly value knowing they are making a difference and working towards something. In fact Grad Mentor’s research shows that, in some cases, this kind of feedback was the best part of the relationship between the graduate and the firm, and that informal conversation was most valued.

6. Personal Career Planning

Having a career plan mapped out is highly valued by graduates, as it gives them clarity and transparency of what they need to do to contribute to the successful relationship with the firm. Research uncovered four ‘personal career planning’ issues held by respondents. These include mapping out a future that a graduate wants to participate in, education, professional development, and complexity of the role

7. Remuneration

It may be surprising to industry professionals to learn that remuneration is the most important factor for graduates when they’re considering which firm to join.

To remain competitive, firms need to take a fresh approach to compensation that reflects new values, attitudes and lifestyles of graduates. A better, more efficient outcome for both sides should focus on the ‘softer’ types of remuneration which include flexible working styles, business improvement and innovation, ongoing professional development, and providing a sense of social purpose.


[i] S. Sinek, Millennials in the Workplace, www.youtube.com/watch?v=hER0Qp6QJNU.
[ii] Millennials at work: Reshaping the workplace, PwC.

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