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Companies take steps to attract, retain millennials

There are about 1.2 million millennials, making up about 22 per cent of Singapore's resident population. They are the largest generation in the workforce today, according to human resource firm Adecco. 

SINGAPORE: From better Internet connection to corporate social responsibility programmes, more companies in the Republic are taking steps to attract and retain millennials, the generation aged 16 to 35.

There are about 1.2 million millennials, making up about 22 per cent of Singapore's resident population. Millennials - or those born between 1981 and 2000 - are the largest generation in the workforce today, according to human resource firm Adecco.

According to estimates, in the next decade, they will make up 75 per cent of the workforce.

Compared to previous generations, this group has a different perspective and a different set of needs.

"It’s because of what we know of what's happening overseas and hopefully, we can bring ideas (from) all around the world from what we read," said 25-year-old Tong Zi Heng, co-founder of Eventory.

"We know what we want and it's more of in the long term, so we will actually be wanting to look at freedom and flexibility," said 24-year-old Nadiah Mahad, a project executive at Adecco Singapore.

FREEDOM, FLEXIBILITY

That is because having more freedom helps them to be more innovative, said 26-year-old Chanelle Wang, a project management consultant at Verztec Consulting.

"We don't really like to follow very rigid structures and from all this flexibility, it allows us to discover a lot of things, to think out of the box, to be able to be more creative in that sense, like we do not just follow something but instead we look at certain things with a different perspective," said Ms Wang.

To accommodate and attract millennials like her, Ms Wang's employers are open to requests to work from home. For example, she had asked to work from home when she took leave for half a day.

The journey to her office takes more than an hour, and the 26-year-old thought it would not be productive for her to spend so much time on the road.

It is one of the changes the communications consulting firm rolled out, following feedback from its staff, who are mostly from this generation.  The company hires around 50 staff for its Singapore office and 60 per cent of them are millennials.

"They don't like to be controlled too much by the employer and they like to work very independently, so I think it's a very good way to retain them and to also motivate them, because actually millennials are quite high performers, but they just need to have the personal space for themselves," said Ms Jenny Woon, chief operating officer of Verztec Consulting.

Other changes include having flexible working hours, a more structured recognition programme and even a better Internet connection.

To millennials, connectivity is important. That is one of the reasons the company is constantly upgrading its Internet connection, so its staff can take up e-learning courses online.

MILLENNIALS CARE ABOUT COMPANY PURPOSE, SINCERITY: ADECCO 

Adecco said another draw for millennials is corporate social responsibility, because they want their employers to have sincerity.

"One of the things that millennials find very important to find in their employer is the purpose of the company and the sincerity,” said Ms Femke Hellemons, country manager of Adecco Singapore. “So ... for example, corporate social responsibility programmes are really something that millennials appreciate very much."

According to the firm, more companies are rolling out measures to engage this generation. About 80 have attended its workshops to learn how to better work with millennials, held over the past year.

"How we started to do this is because we had a lot of companies ask us the same questions when it comes to becoming an attractive employer, becoming an employer of choice for this generation," added Ms Hellemons. “We like that candidates want to join us and tell us why should we hire you."

“But this generation, it's a little bit different. You have to give in to them, why they should want to work for you, which means as a company, you need to be very clear about your value, your proposition, and what you can bring to the individual and why they should choose to work for you," she noted.

The firm said it will continue to organise workshops to help more businesses attract and develop millennials.