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SMEs valuing millennial talent

Almost nine in ten (86%) small and medium enterprises (SMEs) say their growth relies on an ability to recruit millennial talent, research from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking has found.

The survey of 400 SMEs found that the skills most valued in millenials were the potential for fresh ideas (61%), a different perspective (44%) and digital skills (38%).

As a result, more than three quarters (77%) of SMEs said they feel under pressure to sell themselves to millennials when hiring.

Peter Vogel, assistant professor at the University of St. Gallen and author of Generation Jobless? Turning the Youth Unemployment Crisis into Opportunity, confirmed that hiring young people is good for business. “People ask if there is a business case for hiring younger people, and the conclusion is that there is,” he told HR magazine. “The positive aspects of getting young people on board outweigh the negative aspects."

Regarding how to appeal to this generation, Vogel advised: “Today’s youngsters, the so-called ‘digital natives’, show a shift from the generations that came before. Their expectations towards work culture, the purpose of the business, their contributions, are different. They don’t just want to fulfil a task to make money. If they work for a company, they really want to feel like they are a part of it.”

The Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking research also, however, uncovered employer concern that the culture of their business is not welcoming enough for younger workers. A third (33%) of firms worry that a job offer has been turned down in the past because the young candidate didn’t like their culture.

The survey suggested these concerns were valid, with more than half (56%) of millennials saying they would turn down a job offer if they didn’t like the company culture, even if the salary was right.

Gareth Oakley, managing director of SME Banking for Lloyds Banking Group, confirmed that the future of SMEs’ businesses could depend on attracting millenials. “They can tap in to a range of attributes, from hard skills such as digital and technological know-how, to fresh ideas and new perspectives,” he said.

“Although SMEs are beginning to invest and change their business culture to make themselves more attractive, they also tell us that they need help to find the right people.”