Millennials are young, gifted, digitally savvy and they know what they want

Born between 1980 and 2000, Millennials are the 20th century's last generation and its first truly digital one.

They have grown up creating digital content and now expect to be part of an organisation where they can create for a living.

Justin Gray, NZ country managing director of professional services company Accenture, says digital-savvy Millennials have created an opportunity for businesses, and his firm is on a hiring spree of the young talent.

His Auckland and Wellington offices are recruiting staff for government, communications, media and technology, retail, utilities and financial services.

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So what do employers need to know when they are hiring Millennials?

"If you harness the creativity and drive of this generation it will energise and drive your business," says Gray. "Millennials are creative and adventure seeking - they mash up different experiences to make something new."

He says Millennials' expectations about how they live, work and play are fluid.

For example, they want to employers to tell them:

*How will you leverage my valuable skills?

*How are you going to invest in me to grow me and develop my skills?

*How are you going to keep things fresh and keep me challenged?

And Millennials are increasingly attracted to sectors that require creative ability, design thinking, digital aptitude and strategic planning.

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Recognising the way Millennials like to interact, during the recruiting process Accenture creates a hyper personalised and digital experience, which is what Millennials expect.

"Our interview app, which is personalised for each person, includes the interview time, links to profiles of those they are meeting, a Google map of interview venue and a link to the video app if it is a video interview," Gray says.

Millennials are also drawn to smaller start-up organisations.

"According to an Accenture survey, only 15 per cent of 2015's university graduates want to work for a large organisation.

"Entry-level workers are turning away from traditional sectors like energy, insurance, banking and communications in favour of start-ups, which they see as more forward thinking and creative organisations to work for." This creates issues for larger, more established companies that still need talented, highly educated and motivated workers.

And when it comes to job satisfaction, research shows a high percentage of Millennials regard cultural fit as a top priority for their job, followed by career potential.

"According to analyst Glassdoor (US job search and review website), nearly 80 per cent of Millennials see cultural fit as a top priority, followed by career potential," says Gray.

"Salary is starting to appeal to the younger generation less. They are more keen to work for an organisation with cultural and social perks than generations before them."

He also cites a report by recruitment firm Robert Walters, "Attracting and Retaining Millennial Professionals" that found 91 per cent of Millennials say the opportunity for rapid career progression is one of the most important things about their job, but more than half of employers do not provide clear guidelines for progression.

More than half the Millennials interviewed reported that they had been disappointed by a lack of training and development in a new job and 68 per cent cited a clear path for career progression as most important in keeping employees engaged.

They also said they would be more likely to take a job with an employer who used the same technology as they did - and that employers should implement the latest technologies even if the cost was high.

"To resonate with a digitally savvy workforce, organisations will need to foster a work environment that enables flexibility in how and where work gets done, values diversity and enables collaborative networks," says Gray.

"Next-generation employees are looking for flat, team-based structures, and opportunities to grow through skill development and be rewarded for innovation."

Social workplaces are also high on Millennials' wishlists, with many saying that a social outing with their colleagues was the most important part of their induction at a new job. An engaging and fun workplace is important.

And Millennials are not scared to vote with their feet if their job doesn't meet their expectations.

"Research by LinkedIn found that Millennials tend to change jobs four times between graduating and when they're 32, indicating two to three years at each position. Millennials will typically leave an organisation if their expectations for a fulfilling social and cultural experience are not met - and if the organisation is not transparent enough with career progression."

On the other hand, Millennial professionals are surprisingly loyal to their companies if they are satisfied with their jobs.

Gray says, "The digital cohorts born after the early 1980s are motivated to stay with their employer, and to actively recommend their organisation to friends, by the level to which they are fulfilled in their job."

Think culture

New Zealand organisations looking to attract Millennials need to:

Act like a small company

Even a large company can act like a small one with the right organisational structure and attention to building a positive work environment. Offer entry-level employees challenging work and create a culture of growth and advancement.

Get digital

Digital is no longer an option; it's the reality. Because young people use digital channels such as social networking while prospecting, employers must invest in those channels.

It's important to engage with recruits early in the supply chain. If you don't have an internship programme, it's time to start one.

Differentiate on talent development

Millennials want to develop their skills

Culture

Show the human side of your business and share a positive, honest vision of where you are heading and inspire people to be part of that journey. Remember that all of the digital savviness in the world will never replace the right culture.

Millennials make up the single largest age group in the New Zealand labour force, and they'll make up the majority of employees within the next five years.