What do millennials in APAC want?

by 07 Jun 2016
Experts Share Their Advice on Attracting and Managing Millennial Talent
If you type ‘millennials HR’ into your Google search bar, you’ll find that the first suggested auto-search is ‘millennials frustrate HR execs.'
Does this resonate with you? If yes – you’re not alone. Understanding what millennials want is a challenge for HR leaders everywhere. These 20 to 30 something-year-olds have spent their formative years exposed to rapid technological advancements alongside economic upheaval, resulting in a complex workforce, with motivations, values and experiences vastly dissimilar from the generations before them.
So, just how do companies make themselves appealing to this game-changing generation?
To find out, we sat down with experienced millennial talent managers: Foo Chek Wee, Group HR Director, SEA & Hong Kong at ZALORA and Timothy Johnson, VP Marketing at INTI Education Group Malaysia.

Why are millennials important to your company – what value do they bring?

Chek Wee: For us, it’s about experimentation. In order for Zalora to cater to new consumers, we always need fresh, new ideas. Therefore it’s important that our employees have the ability to unlearn and relearn, and to break new ground. I find that this is easier for the younger workforce.
Timothy: We have a millennial-dominated team – 80%. Our workforce can easily connect with our target market, as they are more attuned to their values, and motivations. They speak the same language.  

What do you think entices millennials to join a company?

Timothy: Millennials are very open about their likes and dislikes, and what they are or are not willing to compromise on. Therefore, any organisation whose values are very clearly spelt out and articulated through their team will be attractive to millennials.
Chek Wee: Millennials seek meaningfulness and growth opportunities that offer an enriching learning experience. What we say to prospective candidates is, “we are doing new things and have big dreams – come join us and make a difference.”

In your experience, what has deterred millennial talent from taking on a job opportunity?

Timothy: Millennials want to know what the ‘cost’ is and do not like working in environments where the reward is uncertain. Any organisation that does not provide this level of clarity will have difficulty attracting millennials. There has to be transparency .

How do you use social and digital channels to attract millennial talent?

Timothy: We are very big on Facebook and Instagram as well as LinkedIn. We want to connect with millennials through channels they communicate in, in a language they understand.
Chek Wee: What we have done on LinkedIn in the past year is to upload images and videos that give insight into who we are. We want our social channels to reflect our company culture, the real us. Our CMO recently celebrated his birthday via an office-wide Nerf Gun war and our employees organically captured and shared the moment online on their own social channels. I think it’s this authenticity that resonates with the millennial generation. 

How does your company ensure retention rates remain high among millennial employees?

Timothy: At the beginning of each year we set out each person’s own goals for the year ahead. If they want to acquire a new skill, we facilitate that. We have a rigorous review process and conduct regular, open conversations with managers so employees can say, “Here are my ideas, this is what I want to learn.”
Chek Wee: To keep morale high, recognition is essential. It is easy to acknowledge big achievements but it should also be about recognizing people on a constant basis, and giving feedback as fast as possible.
We provide 360 feedback from managers and peers and clear criteria on what it takes to be a top talent. There’s been a shift from the employer owning the learning experience to enabling the employee to drive their own development.

Do millennials respond well to traditional leadership styles, or do leaders need to evolve their approach?

Chek Wee: All companies dealing with millennials should ask themselves this – do our leaders truly care about the career development of the individuals? Millennials need to feel a sense of investment from their managers.
Timothy: Millennials are in an exploratory stage, and leaders must invest time in helping them construct a roadmap for how they want to develop within the company and what they can become. Millennials don’t see much beyond 3-5 years, unlike generations before them, so it’s for leaders to probe and ask the right questions to find out their passion and unlock what drives them.
In just four short years from now, millennials will account for 50% of the workforce globally. It is predicted that by 2025, this figure will have increased to 75%. They will soon be moving into senior leadership roles and taking on larger responsibilities at work. There has never been a more pressing time to understand this disruptive generation. In order for companies to appeal to millennials in a saturated and highly competitive landscape, HR leaders need to actively learn to work with, work around and work for this influx of talent.
Want to find out more? Check out our video to hear from the sources themselves and uncover, what millennials want.