How Small Business CEOs Are Catering To Millennial Workers

How Small Business CEOs Are Catering To Millennial Workers

Emily Smykal

Young workers between the ages of 18 and 35–Millennials–have quickly become one of the most coveted components of the U.S. workforce. They’re eager to find meaningful work and not yet jaded by decades of office politics. Plus they’re the most educated generation we’ve ever seen.

So it’s no surprise that many CEOs of small and medium size businesses are tailoring some of their HR and management strategies to attract Millennial workers. Vistage, a global CEO membership organization, surveys small business leaders every quarter to gauge their current status and outlook. While their results for the second quarter of 2016 were mixed thanks to economic and political uncertainty, there is good news for Millennials.

Vistage asks over 2,000 CEOs the same nine questions every quarter to gather opinions on their situation now and in the next twelve months. But they also add questions more specific to current issues, and in this quarter Vistage addressed young workers. As the largest survey of the leaders of small and mid-size companies, its results shed some much-needed light on attitudes towards Millennials among smaller employers.

1) 50% of CEOs said they will expand their workforce this year

In the same quarter last year that figure stood at 57%, but it’s still an encouraging sign that a majority of small business CEOs intend to hire more workers over the next year. When asked specifically when they plan to hire more staff, 30% reported hiring would happen steadily over the next twelve months. But 14% said they would do so now, in the current quarter. Another positive sign for workers of all ages? Only 8% of CEOs said they are planning cutbacks this year.

2) 34% reported finding, hiring, retaining and training employees as the most significant business issue they currently face

Sourcing and retaining talent was the top answer when CEOs had to choose one out of several significant business issues. Economic uncertainty was a distant second at 16%, followed by slow growth (14%) and financial issues (10%). When asked a related question, “What is the biggest challenge your business is specifically facing now?” only 2% of CEOs chose staff cutbacks. So while finding, and keeping successful employees is a real issue for many small employers, most workers at these firms can feel confident about their own job security.

3) 46% of CEOs said they are planning to hire recent college grads

This was a new question that Vistage introduced, one of several covering younger workers. While close to half of small business leaders do plan to hire recent college grads in the next year, 59% said they do not. Responses likely come down to the type of business each CEO leads, and what their current needs are. Small service providers and family-run manufacturing companies, for example, are probably eager to bring on young, well-educated new talent, while small healthcare providers may be holding out for more experienced applicants.

4) 64% of all CEOs report adapting their management style to Millennial workers

When asked if they’ve taken steps over the last five years to adapt their management practices to younger members of the workforce, a majority said yes. Only 33% of CEOs said they had not. While it will undoubtedly take time for Millennials to truly assert themselves in the workplace, many small business leaders are already recognizing their different attitudes and preferences.

5) 57% of CEOs now offer benefit packages designed to attract younger talent

Again, not every small business is catering to Millennial workers in this way–41% said no–but many are heading in that direction. These business leaders are adjusting benefit packages to include perks like better tuition reimbursement, health care coverage, paid time off, volunteer days, and company events. A lot of research has already been done on what Millennials want from the workplace. So it’s up to small businesses to decide if they can match these workers’ expectations.

Overall, the Vistage survey for Q2 in 2016 found that the total CEO Confidence index (including all components) is actually at a three year low: 88.8. This time last year it was 99.0, and three years ago it stood at 96.7. But CEO confidence has dipped in the past, and not just during the recession. For Millennial workers, there is a difference between the overall confidence among small business leaders, and their outlook specifically towards young talent. Many of these executives already recognize the importance of sourcing, hiring, and retaining Millennials for the growth of their business.

The largest working population is now comprised of millennials. Check out our latest guide 5 Quick Tips for Hiring Millennials for everything you need to know about attracting and recruiting this generation:

Hiring Millennialscareer site assessment


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *