Guest Column | June 17, 2015

5 Ways IT Solutions Providers Can Attract And Retain Millennial Talent

By Chris Phillips, Director of Member Communities, CompTIA

Attract And Retain Millennial Talent

Millennials are transforming the workplace. Although often regarded as entitled and self-centered, this generation is actually more energetic, motivated, and goal-oriented than it gets credit for. It’s just that millennials like to do things differently.

They’re not big on 9-to-5 schedules, protracted project cycles, or waiting for emails with answers to their questions. Brought up with technology at their fingertips, millennials prefer texting over phone calls, equate “community” with social media, and have no problem working late into the night to finish a project — instead of putting it down at day’s end to resume working on it in the morning.

By 2020, millennials will make up 50 percent of the global workforce. So it makes sense for IT channel companies to figure out how to best recruit and retain millennials. It helps to know what makes them tick. As the executive sponsor for CompTIA’s Future Leaders community, it’s been an honor and eye-opening experience to work closely with this group over the last year and do just that. We haven’t got it all flushed out yet, but here’s a preview of what we’re tallying:

Top Five Ways (So Far) To Attract The Right Millennials 

  1. Flexible Work Environment. Millennials tend to reject the notion of tying work to a rigid schedule or specific location. Careers that offer flexible work hours, telecommuting, and mobility tools are more attractive. Give them the tools to do their work anywhere and — within reason — on their own schedule, and they’ll be happier, more productive, and likely more loyal than you’d expect from the news headlines.
  2. Meaningful Feedback. Most employees like feedback, but millennials crave it. They want to know now whether the project they just completed fulfilled expectations. An informal pat on the back is always welcome, doesn’t cost you anything, and makes workers feel good. Don’t limit feedback to the annual review, and be sure to ask employees what kind of feedback they need. Having open lines of communication are critical for millennials and can’t be ignored. 
  3. Ability To Listen. Besides getting feedback, millennials want to be seen and heard. They may have different ideas and ways to achieve goals, but that doesn’t mean they should be summarily dismissed, so keep an open mind. Remember, this is the first generation to grow up with broadband, social media and mobile devices — and that shapes their perceptions. Generally speaking they aren’t afraid to be seen (video) or heard (radio, podcasts) so take advantage and find an “in” where you could use their energy to further engage with partners, customers and prospects and yes, ultimately, promote your brand and value.
  4. Mentorship Opportunities. Despite what you may read, millennials want to learn from older colleagues, so encourage mentoring relationships. However, it’s best to let those mentorships develop organically rather than assign partners. Plant the idea by showing them examples of successful mentorships and their positive results. Encourage socials or bring in lunch to foster more casual conversations.
  5. Workforce Integration. Although millennials approach work differently, they don’t expect special treatment — with the exception of flexible hours and more feedback than most. But seriously, this community wants to be integrated into a multigenerational workforce that shares different ideas to achieve common business goals. Millennials are just as interested in business opportunities and goals, such as IT security, managed services, and cloud opportunities, as the rest of your staff, so don’t treat them as if they exist on a separate island. Find ways to integrate your workforce and learn more from one another.

We’re Not That Different After All

When you think about it, the practices listed above make sense for workers of any age group. Millennials as a group may put more value on purpose, recognition, and nurturing, but they are just as driven to succeed as previous generations. They may have a more heightened sense of work/life balance, but they are just as interested in career advancement.

The trick for employers is to provide the flexibility, communication, and collaboration that millennials appreciate. The CompTIA Future Leaders community will have more to say about this when we officially launch the Tools for Talent initiative at ChannelCon, so stay tuned.

Chris Phillips is director of member communities at CompTIA. A 15-year veteran of IT channel sales, marketing and management, with more than 25 years of success in building sales and marketing programs for technology and retail industries, he has great insight into the needs of both solution providers and vendors.