Using Analytics to Attract and Retain Tech-Loving Millennials

Submitted on: Mon, 06.05.2017 06:22pm - Annie Eissler |
Using Analytics to Attract and Retain Tech-Loving Millennials

Millennials love technology. Whether they’re Snap-chatting, posting on Facebook, or using a mobile phone to hail a ride on Uber or Lyft, this huge generation was literally born with technology in its hands and grew up taking for granted many of the modern conveniences that older generations had to do without during their formative years.
This reality presents both opportunity and challenges for distributors that need to get up with the times if they want to effectively attract and retain workers aged 20-37, which currently number 75.4 million and comprise the nation’s largest living generation, according to Pew Research.
Courting the “Can’t Wait” Generation
Unwilling to wait around for a full quarter to find out how they performed over the prior three months—or work an entire year before getting an “annual review,” only to learn that they weren’t performing up to snuff—millennials love instant feedback, they don’t mind being measured, and they like to see how they’re doing in relation to their peers. As digital natives, they know analytic data is available and have an expectation to be able to use it. 
These requirements don’t always blend well with traditional distribution firms, where being family-run, generations-old, and highly reliant on veteran workers who are now reaching (or, already past) retirement age come together to create a stagnant, traditional work environment. In Q&A: The Evolution Of Distributor/Manufacturer Recruiting Strategy, recruitment expert Larry Basel explains how the competition for the “best talent” is pushing distributors to change their age-old paradigms, particularly when it comes to recruiting millennials.
“To attract top talent, best-in-class companies have enhanced their recruiting practices by implementing internal changes aimed at increasing employee engagement and boosting workplace culture,” Basel told Industrial Distribution. “Once company culture gaps have been addressed, employers are looking externally to partner with resources that get them in front of fresh talent, be it a staffing firm, consulting firm, or collegiate program.”
Appealing to the Tech-Savvy
Some companies are turning to analytics to entice millennials and get them to give industrial distribution a “second look” when reviewing their career opportunities. Understanding that millennials are drawn to companies that use new technologies, for example, Vesco Oil Corporation is equipping its sales reps with MITS-enabled iPads—and also allowing usage via personal mobile phone—in an effort to increase sales and profitability.
Lance Melnik, IT director at Vesco, says his teams are “chomping at the bit for access to MITS,” and doing more than positioning Vesco for the future with millennials. He's also successfully introducing powerful analytics into a mature workforce that does not always have a reputation for embracing data and new technologies.
Taking it Step by Step
Used effectively, analytics can help companies attract and retain millennials that might not otherwise consider a career in the distribution industry. In a recent report on managing millennials, PwC outlined the steps that employers can use to more successfully retain younger, tech-savvy workers. Nearly every step can be supported by analytics—here’s a sampling (read the full list of strategies here):

  • Understand them: Use metrics and benchmarking to segment your workforce in order to understand what millennials want and how these desires might be different from older workers.
  • Help them grow: Put them on special rotational assignments more frequently to give them a sense that they are moving toward something and gaining a variety of experiences. Challenge them to come up with new ways to streamline processes and to exercise creativity.
  • Let them know how they're doing: Millennials want and value frequent feedback. Unlike the past where people received annual reviews, millennials want to know how they're doing much more regularly. Give them honest feedback in real time — and highlight positive contributions or improvements on key competencies.
  • Let them advance faster:  They want career advancement much quicker than older generations are accustomed to. A relatively simple solution, such as adding more levels, grades, or other “badges,” could be enough to meet their expectations.

By leveraging analytics as a human resource and sales tool, distributors can position themselves for success in any job market and stand out from competitors who opt for more traditional, age-old recruiting, retention, feedback, and compensation methods that don’t effectively “speak” to today’s youngest generation of American workers. Isn’t it time for your company to get onboard?