Stephanie Harper, Law at Work’s HR projects manager, shares her tips on how to become a talent magnet. (Image by Zureks via CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication)

Stephanie Harper - LAWHaving survived leavers’ prom, a lads’ trip to Zante and T-in the Park I asked my 18 year old how long he would stay in his first job.  Ben replied he would stay until a better job came along explaining that “Ideally I would want to get enough experience and develop skills to be able to move on, unless promotional chances were available”.

Regardless if you call them an Echo Boomer, a Millennial, Generation Y or, the spoilt generation (for those born between early 1980s and early 2000s), Ben’s answer fits with the research. Other than packing booze and dry shampoo (unused) for the music festival what do these Echo Boomers look like?

According to a report by Forbes, 91 percent of Echo Boomers are likely to move jobs every three years even if they are happy with the organisation, a “job for life” is rare, they will have experienced no or irregular pay uplifts and for the Echo Boomers, internal promotion has been scarce. Whereas, when the Baby Boomers entered the market in the twentieth century they worked hard, were loyal and gave their all and in return could have had a life-long career, regular salary increases and internal promotions.

In Deloitte’s report on ‘Engaging the 21st century workforce’ after leadership gaps, the second most important challenge for global organisations was retention and engagement. Everyone knows that the level of engagement affects the bottom line but why is retention a key concern? It is very easy to focus on the costs of recruitment for replacements but someone leaving can impact on the customer, the team and the performance of the organisation.

Here are six top tips to be a talent magnet:

Ensure strong leadership skills and skills development

People do not leave their job they leave their manager. Watch your back, Echo Boomers want your job. They have been brought up to dream the dream and empowered to take decisions. Developing excellent leadership skills across the whole organisation should be a key feature of any People Strategy. With less retirees, horizontal development will be sought by Echo Boomers and therefore, promoting opportunity for leadership training a selling point.

Be creative and advertise your flexible working

In the Harvard Business Review “flexible work arrangements and the opportunity to give back to society trump the sheer size of the pay package”. Despite all the electronic gizmos to streamline processes employees describe being “time poor” due to the speed of technology and faster response rates expected. “Sabbaticals”, “Benidorm Breaks”, “Duvet Days”, “Team Volunteer Days” or other such initiatives may work for organisations.

Focus on talent management and plan your resources

Where there is a skills shortage, HR actively planning resources and growing a talent pool are two measures that can be put into place. Talent pooling may involve keeping in touch with non-returners from maternity/paternity leave; encouraging retirees to become volunteers; introducing an apprenticeship scheme; developing a close relationship with the local colleges; attending community events and presenting at careers events are all ways of developing magnetic ties.

Review how you manage multi-generational workforces

When organisations have younger people managing older people and a potential four or five decade gap as outlined above, ensuring and promoting the organisation has strong leadership skills, an appropriate performance management system and support in place such as: buddying; coaching and upward mentoring.

Refresh your reward and recognition strategy

An excellent pension and life insurance scheme can be a magnet for some but for others a cycle to work scheme and ‘pizza Fridays’ may help attract employees. Two key considerations are first, to ask your employees what reward package they value and second, consider salary sacrifice schemes where employees have a choice.

Understand why employees are attracted to you, why they stay and leave

Many organisations carry out exit interviews but few carry out “entry interviews”. One of our clients carries out “Welcome Lunches” and from one event discovered that a main attraction for younger people was the organisations’ values and the evidence of high level of community involvement.

As HR Directors, we are working in exciting times in meeting the retention challenge, filling the skills gap and managing the diverse talent particularly with having the Baby Boomers and Echo Boomers in the workplace not to mention the Veterans. Even with mergers and acquisitions those at the higher levels are recognising even more the skills they can bring and are also starting to move employer. By 2020 Echo Boomers will make up 50 percent of the workforce. Soon we will be considering the Generation Z or iGen (those born 2005 onwards) and how organisations continue to retain them and be talent magnets.







Stephanie Harper is an HR projects manager for Law at Work, a business support organisation specialising in helping clients identify, manage, reduce, and eliminate risk to their businesses in employment law, human resources and health & safety.