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Apr 5, 2012

Recruiting, retaining, and inspiring top talent is every company’s secret weapon to business success. But as an employer, managing this responsibility relies on a concrete understanding of what your workforce anticipates and, more importantly, needs in order to continue to drive results.

What’s the best way to stay ahead of the curve with today’s incoming workforce?

Achievers, the leader in employee rewards and recognition solutions, recently announced results from the Class of 2012 study, in partnership with Experience Inc., a career network for colleges and universities throughout the U.S. since 1996. Approximately 8,000 students across the country were surveyed – making this the largest study of its kind.

The Class of 2012 study revealed new emerging trends of what Millennials are seeking in an entry level position, including social media leverage for job searches, which factors are most important to retain Millennials, and identifying what motivates Millennials and how to cater your engagement strategy.

Here are four ways to understand the needs of the future workforce and cater your engagement strategy to recruit, retain, and inspire the Millennials:

1) Leverage Social Media

Social media is no longer the future, it’s the present! Some 88 percent of Millennials said they plan to apply directly to the company they wish to work for, which speaks to one important business component: brand. How your business portrays itself through social media platforms speaks to your ability to target your future revenue generators.

Since 35 percent of Millennials said they plan to utilize LinkedIn as their top social media platform to job search, it’s important to make your career page user friendly and link to social media sites so younger prospects can share entry level jobs with their own networks as well.

2) Set a clear career path/advancement opportunities

Since 2010, there have been three consistent trends that Millennials find most important: career advancement opportunities, salary, and interesting and challenging work (in order). More than half (54 percent) of Millennials said they believed career advancement opportunities to prevail over salary when looking for work.

Managers should adopt a coaching mentality, set clear goals with teams, and allow them to develop their own strategies of attainment. Not only do students want career progressions, but they also thrive in interesting and challenging work. The Millennials want to take on difficult tasks so that they feel trusted, responsible, and like they are contributing to company success.

The key to successfully building employee engagement is to instill autonomy in employees, which will ultimately win over top talent and the Millennials.

3) Adopt a recognition rhythm to increase retention

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees will only spend 1.5 years with their employer. However, 47 percent  of Millennials said that they plan to stay with their first employer from five to 10 years. Future employees want to stay with their first employer and boost retention rates, but reality does not align with Millennial’s intentions.

In order to increase retention, your business should adopt a recognition rhythm to ensure that current and future employees are provided with on-the-spot recognition instead of traditional performance reviews. A whopping 80 percent of Millennials said they would rather receive feedback in real-time, not to mention frequent check-ins to keep a pulse on progression.

Good communication is open, honest and timely. Managers need to be accessible to employees for questions, support and encouragement.

4) Offer the choice of rewards

More than four out of five (81 percent) of Millennials said travel and experience are significant motivators when it comes to rewards, but what is important to note is choice. Your future employees are motivated by experiential and intangible rewards more than typical “Years of Service” awards with predetermined merchandise.

Millennials will not be inclined to work harder when they are given a predetermined reward since that eliminates choice. Don’t tell your workforce what motivates them, ask them. Providing your employees with intangible rewards and experiences will evoke positive memories that are always attributed to your company.

The Millennial generation marks a shift from the traditional workplace to an environment that fosters a “Culture of Recognition” and choice for rewards, immediate feedback, offers a set career path and advancement opportunities, and leverages the power of social media to establish brand presence and recruitment capabilities.

Employers that understand the needs of Millennials and are more aligned with their values and expectations will be able to capitalize on their energy and drive to advance and generate business results.