Importance of retaining millennial talent in the recruitment business

The questions surrounding millennials in the workplace are becoming more and more common, especially in Africa. Due to the ‘youth bulge’ Africa is experiencing at the moment, businesses must re-evaluate millennials’ position in their organigram and the importance of retaining this talent in recruitment.

When millennials begin a new job, those items that attracted them in the first place must become a reality. Gaining valuable experience from the start and knowing that their employer places as much importance on their personal development and their career progression is essential for retaining millennials stay in the business.

Learning how the business works through shadowing experienced members of staff is an easy way to ensure that millennials feel comfortable in their new environments.  It is also important to get training and development plans in place early, and ensure they are satisfactory in accordance with this new demographic cohort. In the recent Employer of Choice survey, run by Global Career Company in partnership with Willis Towers Watson, 53% of respondents were disappointed by the lack of a properly implemented personal development plan or training program when starting a new job.

Positive workplace culture creating an inclusive, social workplace culture from the start is another important key in retaining millennial talent. A third of millennials felt that meeting their colleagues in a social setting was the most important part of their workplace induction – a marked difference to older generations where just 15% of Generation X professionals felt that a social outing was the most important aspect of their induction, and for Boomers, the figure was less than 1%. Over half of millennials reported that poor company culture was a source of disappointment in a new job.

Career progression

Millennials want more than just a job – they want a career, with 69% citing a clear path for progression in the business as the most important factor in keeping them engaged. It is perhaps unsurprising that for millennials at the outset of their careers, a clear path to progression is the most effective motivator. However, this reflects not just their youth but also the ambition of this generation. Millennials have grown up being told they are capable of achieving anything and this confidence means that they crave responsibility early in their careers.

Despite the importance they place on a sociable workplace, millennial professionals are still highly motivated by generous salaries or bonus schemes. Employers must be aware of this and should be cautious of viewing millennials as a cheaper alternative to more experienced employees, as it is likely that doing so will leave them struggling to recruit the best millennial talent.

During the 2008 market crash and subsequent recession, many millennials in Africa struggled to find jobs that met their expectations. 31% reported that they had taken work in a sector that they did not wish to work in. Now, as the economic outlook improves, many are ready to change jobs to find a new role that better suits their ambitions. Employers looking to retain millennial employees should consider giving them the option to move around the business to find a position that better suits their desired career path, particularly given that 70% of millennials consider job rotation within the business one of the most important aspects of their job.

Millennials placed the lowest importance on improved work-life balance when considering a new job (15%) compared to other generations. For millennials, a work-life balance is a lower priority than a good salary, a fulfilling job and good opportunities for career development when considering a new role. However, this does not mean that millennials do not award any value to this balance. On the contrary, 90% of millennials surveyed regarded policies that encourage a good work-life balance as one of the best things about their job. While good work-life balance is important to ensure job satisfaction among millennials once they are employed, it is not an effective strategy to recruit them.

A vast array of factors therefore is key to retaining this crucial demographic. Their importance in the workplace is becoming more and more evident and businesses must work closely with them to ensure that both the company’s needs and their needs are met.


This year’s Talent Agenda Series, happening in Johannesburg 25-26 October, touches on a number of subjects discussed in this blog. Get your ticket before they run out!

 Upcoming Event. 25th - 26th Johannesburg, South Africa