How to Attract and Retain the Top Millennial Talents with Agile

In 2020, 50% of the global workforce will be millennials (people born approximately between 1982 and 2004). The millennial generation is one of the largest and best educated in history, and employees around the globe are therefore trying to understand how to attract the top millennial talents and make them stay.

According to a survey of 4,364 graduates across 75 countries conducted by PWC in 2011, employers should expect millennials to be willing to move on quickly if their expectations are not being met. Millennials want regular feedback and encouragement. 51% of those questioned said feedback should be given very frequently or continually on the job and only 1% said feedback was not important to them. They also want to feel that their work matters, they want to be able to make a contribution, and they look for flexibility in how work gets done. Unfortunately, many organizations still have rigid employment models with fixed office hours, partly sonority based promotions, and performance management programs better suited for the Industrial Age. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Leaders have the power to update these out-of-date systems.

Today, we see a wave of traditional IT development organizations adopt Agile ways of working. Their motivation is often to get more work done in less time and/or at a lower cost. Many of them operate from an organization-as-a-machine, command-and-control paradigm and implement Agile mechanically. Agile is much more than a way to improve productivity, and fully embracing Agile will provide many of the benefits millennials are looking for. Agile teams are small communities of mutual interest working to realize a shared vision. Work is organized by the team, and formal roles and responsibilities are replaced by shared accountability for delivering value to the users. This gives millennials the opportunity to learn from more experienced peers and to contribute their talents. On a daily basis, they can get and give feedback to and from their teammates. At minimum every fourth week, they also get feedback on deliverables from the market/users. Continuous learning is another cornerstone in Agile. After every release, Agile teams reflect on how to improve the process. This gives millennials, and everyone else, regular opportunities to experiment with new ideas and technologies.

No one knows exactly what the future of work will look like, but starting to embrace an Agile mindset, values, principles, and practices, and taking a critical look at rigid structures and information silos, is almost certainly a step in the right direction.

Are you a millennial or looking to hire one? What do you believe defines a millennial “friendly” workplace? As always, I would love to hear your thoughts using the comments below.

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