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Why you need agile working to attract the best new talent

In the first quarter of 2015, Millennials surpassed Generation X to become the largest demographic in the US workforce. By 2025, the generation of people born in the 1980s and 90s will represent 75% of the entire workforce globally.

These people expect and demand more from the organisation that employs them. They’re attracted to innovation, eager to make a difference in society and keen to develop leadership skills. At Kahootz, it’s our belief that companies which fail to implement agile working practices will struggle to attract the best people from this generation.

Engaging the Millennial workforce

Many Millennials are already succeeding in business, and companies spearheaded by people who belong to this group have successfully disrupted powerful industries. Of course, many of the social media giants and other technology companies that have transformed the way we live in recent years are led by Millennials. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is just 32, as is Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom. Elsewhere, ambitious entrepreneurs in their late teens and early 20s are carving out highly lucrative careers for themselves completely independently using digital platforms like YouTube and Twitter.

The achievements of this small and select group are rightly celebrated. Talented millennials possess traits that are highly prized in the start-up business community – tech-savviness, confidence, independence and a willingness to challenge the status quo. However, among many of the world’s large enterprises and well-established businesses, ordinary Millennials have for a long time been regarded with suspicion – and even as a threat.

This has to change. A wave of articles and reports that labelled Millennials as self-obsessed, materialistic and even arrogant did not help, but it simply doesn’t make sense for any organisation to ignore the group that will soon make up the majority of its workforce. Even more importantly, Millennial employees are already climbing the ladder to the upper echelons of the corporate world. Perhaps your company’s next leader won’t be a Millennial, but what about the one after that? It’s time that every company started to think carefully about how they can attract, engage and retain the very best from the Millennial talent pool.

Innovation and agility

Deloitte’s 2014 Millennial Survey provided some food for thought. It revealed that 78% of Millennials are strongly influenced by how innovative a business is when deciding if they want to work there. One of the report’s most interesting implications was that although businesses all over the world are being urged to respond to the continued influx of Millennials in the workplace – and I’m aware I’ve spent the first half of this blog post doing exactly that! – companies cannot sit back and expect the most talented people of this generation to simply walk into their offices.

We know that a spirit of entrepreneurism and independence defines many of the highest performers in this demographic – in many ways, the internet has made it possible for people to just ‘do it themselves’, and the Millennials are the first generation to grow up with the internet. This means working for a large organisation with a globally recognised name does not hold the same cachet as it once did. Millennials want more from their employers – and if they can’t get it, they’re likely to look elsewhere, or simply create an alternative option themselves.

Agile working strategies are vital for attracting Millennials, but not necessarily because people in this generation are actively seeking companies that promote this way of working. For many, agility is a quality they will expect as standard, because it reflects how they behave away from the office in a world now dominated by social media – mobile, collaborative, always connected.

The Deloitte survey found that Millennials view management attitude (63%) and operational structures and procedures (61%) as the biggest barriers to innovation. For younger members of this generation, it’s likely that a workplace of rigid hierarchies and top-down management structures will soon seem as alien to them as an office full of computers once did to people who spent years working on typewriters. Companies need to embrace agile working – for the future of their organisation.

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