Wilma Smythe: Understand personality, not only skills, to win the war for millennial talent

In this article, Wilma Smythe, Founder of Insight for Good, explains why segmentation of candidates and employees is an essential way forward to design strategic talent management solutions. Using best practice from the world of insight and marketing, a deep understanding of candidates and employees will help organisations to be more successful at talent attraction, engagement and retention.

If you want to be a successful HR or talent manager, you’d be wise to start taking a systematic approach to understanding the personalities of your staff today. The need to understand one group in particular should be keeping you awake at night – Millennials. With 50% of the workforce expected to be made up of Millennials by 2020, an understanding of their particular needs, attitudes and behaviours will make the difference in the growing war for talent that you’ll need to win.

Whilst skills can be learned – personalities are far more static. This means that in order to achieve long term sustainability, talent strategies that put a true understanding of people at their hearts will ultimately be more successful at both attracting new candidates and retaining valued employees than those that simply mirror the skills requirements of the day.

Insight for Good’s mission is to inspire organisations to achieve their social goals through better evidence and insight. Through our work, we noticed a growing crisis of understanding of Millennials and have conducted research resulting in a unique needs-based segmentation of this generation. Our Millennials segmentation is based on a survey with university students that examined their background, health, emotional stability, personality preferences, socialisation, employment readiness, social consciousness, future plans, and work preferences.

We think this research will help you close the talent gap – recognising that to engage today’s talented people, it is vital to understand who they are and why they think and behave the way they do. Understanding this generation in segmented detail offers deep insight into the nuances of human behaviour and is the only way to develop truly effective attraction and retention strategies that are:

  • more engaging
  • meet the needs of both employees and candidates
  • more cost-effective (as scarce resources are directed to the right segments)
  • resilient in a rapidly changing world.

 

Below are short descriptions of our segments:

Undecided (16% of the population)

Undecided Millenial‘Undecideds’ are highly anxious about the future and uncertain about their past education choices. Generally an unhappy bunch, they are less confident, more pessimistic and have struggled to recognise their talents from a young age.

‘Undecideds’ are not particularly materialistic nor socially conscious. They are mainly interested in working for organisations that offer a safe environment, job security and opportunities to develop. They are keen on learning from experience and deciding what to do over time, as opposed to making more permanent career choices from the outset.

“I’m worried about money. I definitely worry about my future as I’m still not certain what career I want to pursue so I don’t know what steps I should be taking right now to achieve that career”

Striving to Stand Out (15% of the population)

Striving Millenials‘Striving to Stand Outs’ are generally focused on success, achievement and recognition. Although confident, they are also highly anxious about their future. They are the most avid users of social media, in particular Snapchat, Instagram and Whatsapp with many desiring to have a high profile on social media.

‘Striving to Stand Outs’ are interested in leadership roles in future. It seems that above all, students in this group like to both play and work hard. Self-proclaimed highly spontaneous, their desire to be the best means that they also dedicate adequate time to studying and will look for work experience while in university.

“Benefits of a university degree are simple. Achieve and strive to be your best”

Positive and Determined (16 % of the population)

‘Positive and Determineds’ are confident, driven and the happiest segment. Related to their higher-than-average emotional stability, they are the most physically active segment and have the highest university engagement.

Highly disciplined, independent and curious, ‘Positive & Determineds’ have high leadership aspirations and have the highest preference for working for large corporations, being some of the least interested in entrepreneurship. They are the most likely to have low employer loyalty if they are not allowed to climb the career ladder.

“I believe the benefits from this degree will help cement me a job in the future and help achieve my dreams”

Inward Contemplators (18% of the population)

Contemplator Millenial

‘Inward Contemplators’ are introverted, anxious and more pessimistic than most. They are not interested in leadership and, more than average, they would expect to settle down quickly and hope to have job security.

Enjoyers of routine and convention, they seem to view completion of their university studies as a route to stable employment and something to endure as opposed to something they are doing for pleasure, being more focused on learning and growing rather than ultimate achievement.

“I would like to go into lab based work when I graduate or carry on education to do a masters degree. My job of my dreams is to be a biomedical scientist. In the future I imagine myself to be working abroad and to be working full time and having an easy lifestyle”.

Socially Active Planners (14% of the population)

Active Millenial

‘Socially Active Planners’ are extroverted, social and fairly confident. While they prefer to plan, this does not mean that they enjoy routine. They are fairly heavy social media users and in particular of Twitter. Many aspire to have their own business and a majority hope to work abroad for some time.

They are active participants of environmental or social causes such as volunteering; however, they are unlikely to only consider working for socially-focused organisations and still consider money to be an important driver for them to find work.

“My ideal job would be something that allows me to incorporate my beliefs into my work. I would be happy working in a small team, possibly taking on leadership roles, and being able to actually express my own ideas and thoughts instead of just being told what to do.”

At Ease Socially Focused (21% of the population)

At Ease Millenial

‘At Ease Socially Focused’ are highly socially conscious and not materialistic. Happy, easy-going and the least anxious segment, they are generally self-controlled.

‘At Ease Socially Focused’ are a fairly social group and seem to have a preference for face-to-face interaction. They are not particularly aspirational to become leaders at work. They are the most socially conscious segment with many saying that they will only consider working for an organisation that has a positive impact on society.

“My lifestyle will be simple. I would not want to live in a big fancy house. I think my degree will have a great influence on my lifestyle because I want to set up my own business one day so my business degree would help me achieve all of my dreams”.

 

 

 

When considering the above, it is important to note that we are not suggesting that one segment is in some way superior to another. For example, the ‘Undecided’ segment might at first appear undesirable due to their lower confidence about the future, but that may, in fact, be a desirable trait for organisations that are struggling with loyalty, given ‘Undecideds’ desire for job security. Likewise, ‘Positive & Determineds’ may appear the most desirable segment at first glance, but in actual fact, they may be the least loyal staff if employers do not have a good plan for addressing their needs for timely career progression.

HR or talent managers will find that taking time to map their organisation’s ideal segments with the desired skills matrixes already developed in their organisations will give them a solid basis for a truly segmented talent strategy. Further, specific tactical attraction and retention interventions (e.g. communications, staff services, or incentives) can be developed for each segment that has been prioritised based on their value to the organisation.

Our segmentation has been designed to look at the desired future composition of a common organisation’s workforce, with graduates being a large proportion of the talent pool. When you consider that Millennials will form the majority of the UK workforce by 2025, this segmentation can be long lasting and applicable to many organisations.

Segmentation is widely used in the world of marketing. It’s deployed heavily in product and service development. Its wide use is due to the fact it works. Products, marketing communications and service interventions tailored to specific target audiences are found to be more successful at delivering business results. People are people and whether they are consumers or employees, understanding their needs, attitudes and behaviours is certainly more valuable and more efficient than using a one-size-fits-all approach.

If you would like to know more about segmentation or how you can optimise your resources by using targeted interventions in your organisation, get in touch with Insight for Good, or to gain a more in-depth understanding of this segmentation and develop a renewed talent strategy with segmentation at its heart, get the full report ‘Demystifying Millennials: Applying segmentation to win the war for talent’.

Thank you in advance – your purchase will contribute to the development of Insight for Good’s market intelligence offer destined to help organisations achieve their social goals through better evidence and insight, and, as a social enterprise, you can be confident that more than half of Insight for Good’s profits will go towards their social cause.

About Wilma Smythe

Wilma has over 15 years experience leading customer insight and intelligence programmes both in the private and public sectors where she has developed customer and multi-channel strategies and influenced marketing, pricing, policy, and product and service delivery.

Seeing the impact of social media coupled with a strong interest in social change, Wilma wanted to be part of a growing movement to help individuals make better decisions for themselves and inspire organisations to grow by adding value to society. She founded Insight for Good to enable organisations use better evidence and insight to achieve their social and organisational goals.

Wilma is a member of the Market Research Society’s Public Sector Editorial Board and has been one of the judges for the 2016 MRS awards. She holds an M.B.A and an MSc. of Social and Organisational Psychology.

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