Engaging with Millennials


Millennials (those who reached adulthood in the early 21st century) are an essential part of the Fashion Industry workforce and an exciting pool of talent – particularly for their sought-after advanced digital skills. Understanding their needs, values and career aspirations is vital to connect with and retain this generation of talent.

Below is the People Marketing guide to understanding this complex and demanding section of the workforce.

Engaging with Millennials

The Millennial generation will make up almost 75% of the workforce by 2020, already beginning to dominate, we need to look to new ways to engage with this generation, to make sure they are in a position,to take over from the retiring generation. To do this, we need to, as an industry, understand what drives this tech savvy generation and what they expect from us. Failing to attract and retain this generation only results in further skills shortages and gaps in business.

Who Are Millennials

This is the first generation, raised with tech at their fingertips. They have faced difficult economic situations as they entered the working world, yet despite this, are optimistic, and see the world as a network of possible opportunities.

What is unique to this generation is the limitless life choices available to them and therefore, greater opportunity to carve out their own unique life path. This often means we label them indecisive, but in truth, they are searching for that unique opportunity to make a difference.They believe in their own ability, not wanting to work their way up a corporate ladder, they need the opportunity to make leaps, to take a gamble, and are looking for employers who are willing to do the same.

How Do They Buy?

The traditional milestones in life, buying a house, getting married, starting a family, are not as available to this generation as they have been in the past, this means the spending habits are different. It’s important to understand how and why this generation buy and what brand and lifestyle aspirations they have. This generation are spending, but you need to deserve their business and win their loyalty.

How to Engage

Given the vastness of the internet, the multiple digital options available, and this generations ability to navigate it, the millennials will search for the most engaging and quality experiences. If your content doesn’t capture the interest in the first few seconds, you have lost them.

One of the most important factors is how the engagement makes them feel, it’s all about the experience and not the end result. They expect considered and relevant content, but more important is the presentation and the ease of navigation. They don’t expect to be sold to, they expect to be involved and informed, they want to know your story and that you understand their passion and lifestyle, that you know what drives them and what makes them happy.

One of the biggest challenges in this era, is the speed in which the users engage, looking at the advances in communications over the years, we now live in a society where news breaks on social media, long before the major news channels can report to us. The Millennial generation expects instant engagement in all areas of life.

Social Media

Your social media needs to reflect your story, your calendar and the subjects close to your heart, this generation feels much closer to the decision makers and influencers that matter to them. The digital world makes everyone seems accessible, they will view you as an equal and you need to communicate back as such.

Recent successes in social media marketing have been in live streaming, video and moving image, this makes you relatable, it makes you real, and it makes your brand and business feel more relevant.

Social media is also used much more today to enable fast and efficient customer service, 24 hours a day, your customer expects answers on their time, not in standard office hours. Largely, out of hours service is essential to win the trust and commitment of this customer.

Recruiting the Millennials

This generation are unique, their aspirations and priorities change regularly but their core values remain the same; happiness, dedication, learning and sharing.

To attract this generation, you must be open and honest, giving clarity on exactly where they fit in your structure from the outset. The more value they can see in your business, the more commitment and engagement you will get in return.

Speed again is a key factor, once a candidate puts themselves on the job market, they expect instant engagement and they will favour the businesses that communicate best. Your position

may be the best fit for them, but they will adapt their wants and needs to fit a company which offers them a better recruitment experience. Yes it’s a candidate driven market, and any delay will run the risk of good candidates getting snapped up elsewhere, but long waits for feedback and general lack of communication is damaging to the process and the candidate will feel they may not be the best fit for your organisation, it’s all about the journey and the experience.

This generation doesn’t feel the need to search for and apply for jobs, they understand the digital world well enough, they expect relevant roles to be delivered to them. They will apply for roles via a mobile device, where their profile exists and it’s a fast and one click process. They prefer to communicate via SMS and IM which is at their fingertips. They will however, take the time to research your business and how well the organisation reflects their values, they also expect, that you will do your research on them.

Retaining the Millennials

Having grown up during a recession, this generation may have made some compromises on their career path, this doesn’t mean they are any less ambitious, they have just taken a different path.

They still expect to be rewarded for the work they do, they want to climb the career ladder but they are also very aware of the work life balance and

any opportunities for flexible working. This generation values personal needs, as much as financial gains and they expect their career path to be sympathetic to both elements.

They will make quick moves and take short contracts, we see this more and more, this is not a commitment issue or a reflection on the candidates’ ability, this is a common trait

amongst this generation who see the world as a network of possibilities. They don’t view the diversity of experiences as damaging, more enriching and fulfilling, every move giving them wider choices and options for the future.

This generation requires constant communication and appraisal, if for a moment they are made to feel undervalued, they will jump ship. But it’s worth noting, this does not always mean they are looking for financial rewards, remember this is a generation driven by their core values, sharing and learning are important to them, to be making a difference.

If you can offer this exchange as well as a flexible approach giving them the work life balance previous generations were unable to command, then you will get not only the commitment and loyalty of the millennials, you will get the best from them.

 

 

 

Kathryn Barksby: Senior Fashion Recruitment Consultant