For today’s CEOs, effective talent engagement is crucial to the execution of strategy. The rise of digital means that organisational norms are being redefined and smart acquisition, development and engagement of talent is required to deliver on the human element of strategy. Talented people will continue to be the driving force behind a high-performing business.

While attracting talented people might be the remit of the organisation and HR, engaging and developing talent to unlock their ability and maximise their contribution is the remit of leaders.

That’s why forward-thinking CEOs should prioritise talent engagement and retention as a key performance metric for leadership teams. Acquiring and retaining great talent should be viewed as a strategic advantage and leaders recruited and rewarded for their capability.

As part of this, CEOs need to ensure that the current workforce – largely consisting of millennials – is future-ready and equipped with strong leadership skills. It’s time to get future-ready for the inevitable demographic tilt, as millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025 (Allianz Australia, 2015).

Every generation leaves its mark upon the business world. The question is, what kinds of leadership attributes will millennials embrace, and how can these skills be developed as part of a talent management strategy?

3 top tips on how CEOs can help the next generation get future-ready through an effective talent management strategy.

  1. Understand who millennials are – their values and career goals.
  2. Millennials are the most educated generation in Australia so far, meaning they generally have a sound knowledge of the world and their place in it. They have also been strongly influenced by new technologies, globalisation and socialisation by very hands-on parents and teachers who have instilled in them a sense of being unique and capable of achieving anything and everything.

    This means that millennials tend to have very high expectations of themselves and others. They want it all – well-paid and meaningful work, career development opportunities, multiple jobs interspersed with travel, a house, marriage, children and so on. And they want it fast.

    Unfortunately, this “need for speed” stereotype has seen millennials accused of being impatient, overly self-confident and entitled. Yet this sweeping claim has little-to-no research to back it up, and discredits the thousands of switched-on, innovative and hard-working millennials out there making a difference in the business world.

    It’s crucial that the older generation understands the value and unique skills and attributes that the younger generation can bring to an organisation. By identifying who millennials really are, including the imperatives that drive their career and life choices, leaders can find ways to be as inclusive and supportive as possible towards their young talent.

  3. Create job roles and flexible work conditions that suit millennials.
  4. Millennials are the leaders of tomorrow, which means their distinct needs need to be integrated into an organisation’s talent management strategy. By creating the right kinds of job roles and flexible work conditions for young people, leaders can find and retain talent, all the while ensuring that their business is profitable and future-ready.

    Comparative to their parents, millennials have higher demands and pressures placed upon them to successfully balance study, work, travel, relationships and investments – and all of this while being constantly inundated with information via the internet and social media.

    This is a lot of responsibility to take on; especially when we consider that unlike their parents, millennials must spend years paying off their HECS debt as soon as they earn a substantial income. They are also being told to spend their superannuation on purchasing a house because the housing market, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, is so far out of their reach.

    With these factors in mind, it’s really no wonder that millennials are looking for more flexible work arrangements rather than the traditional 9-to-5 model. They are also jumping quickly from one role to another, always searching for better opportunities. To attract and retain young talent, leaders need to offer compelling work arrangements, or else risk losing valuable human capital to a competitor.

  5. Support the development of young talent through professional development.
  6. As the most tech-savvy and globally-connected generation in history, millennials are a hugely valuable resource for propelling a business forward. Many CEOs have already recognised this and are proactively responding to the growing influence and impact of millennials.

    At the same time, the rise of technology is accelerating the pace of change in the Australian workforce. The future workforce therefore needs to be agile, adaptable and equipped with the right skills to overcome challenges and embrace change.

    The most valuable development we can give to millennials is around their ability to engage with others, from customers to colleagues to managers. This will help them to achieve the focus and collaboration required to drive innovation in the digital age.

In summary, the young leaders of the future need to develop core strengths or ‘soft skills’ like emotional fitness; the ability to manage their own emotions and those of others in a way that enhances engagement and contributes to better relationships both in work and in life. Professional development training in the area of emotional fitness can ensure that young talent have the resilience, relationship-building, and problem-solving capabilities necessary to meet future demands head-on.