Recruiting Millennials in the Age of Technology Disruption

Takeaways from Presentation by Emily Thomas, Emerson Strategic Analyst

WE19 Conference in Anaheim, CA on Nov 7, 2019

 Last week many members of Emerson’s Women in STEM Employee Resource Group (ERG) were able to participate in the Society of Women Engineers National Conference in Anaheim, CA – WE19. Among the many outstanding industry leaders, culture builders, and technology experts, a few sessions were led by some of our own Emerson women! Emily Thomas, Strategic Analyst, presented and led a discussion on Recruiting Millennials in the Age of Technology Disruption. What started as an internal project, Emily was tasked with understanding millennials with the goal to better understand current and future customers, leaders, and prospective employees. Below is some of the information she provided and my takeaways.

Millennials’ Values

Millennials are generally referred to as those born in the 1981-1996, ages 23-38. Emily described how the formative years in the lives of millennials involved political and economic uncertainty, from the Gulf War, 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, 2008 Recession, as well as Technology Disruption, such as things from smartphones and social media to the internet of things and Uber. Values including authenticity, transparency, peer decision making, convenience, connection, social impact, and advocacy formed. Evidence of these values is apparent in the availability and popularity of products and services such as Toms (shoe donations), Airbnb (travel experience) and Amazon (reviews).

Millennials’ global aggregate income will be $22.5 trillion by 2035 and they will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, thus they are important customers and candidates to understand! The decision journey starts with awareness. Consumers and candidates alike need to know what the product, service, or company is and why it exists. This Toms website doesn’t show their shoes or fashion, but it shows a purpose and millennials value this authenticity and social impact.

The behavior and values demonstrated as consumers are also true as candidates for employment. At Emerson, we need to recognize these behaviors and adjust our strategies and communication style to best represent our “why” in both our advertising of products, but also in our outreach to potential employees.

Millennials’ DecisionsToms.com - Improving Lives

The next step in decision making is evaluation. Similar to the use of Amazon review for choosing a product, millennials utilize Glassdoor and other sources for peer reviews. They’re asking, could it be worth it?

Following evaluation is the moment of truth, deciding “is it worth it?” Millennials value convenience and personalization. Today, websites have chatbots and custom assistance. In an interview process for a job at a company, millennials may prefer automation and evidence of how the process is moving along. Emily noted that perhaps a follow-up text would ease the tension of the long-awaited interview feedback and provide millennials the personalization they expect.

Millennials’ Voices

Finally, advocacy. Millennials value their voices. They’re going to review the products and services they use and their experiences in a job or in the job search. This can be powerful both in promoting to or in warning others. Processes like onboarding or early career development programs lead to positive advocacy for companies.  

Every employee has a voice and can share their Emerson experiences, with our products, but also our workplace and organization. The feedback in the engagement surveys and individual performance reviews that occur each year are important evidence of what employees care about. Setting the culture and habits forward to fit the changing society could help attract future talent.

What’s next?

The audience asked if Gen Z and younger candidates will follow similar trends. Emily described, yes! Gen Z will trend even more towards these values. These generations (millennials and younger) have higher security concerns in the digital space (Facebook, Snap Chat, Google Nest hacks) and have a higher bar in expected Diversity and Inclusion efforts and sustainability concerns. At Emerson, we need to continue to develop recruiting and marketing strategies for our future employees and consumers, knowing external factors, many of which we can’t control or predict, will drive their values and behaviors. Emily’s research is an effective and productive example of the work we need to continue to do to understand society and trends, so now we need to utilize it. While millennials have the expectations and values described here, companies may feel their own culture is not quite “there” yet in meeting these needs. Emily advised to include these employees in creating strategies to revamp the company culture to be more diverse, inclusive, collaborative, and transparent!