By Daniel Hunter

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) believe future success relies on their ability to recruit so-called millennials — those born between 1980 and 2000 — but recognise that they need to do more to attract them, according to new research by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Almost nine in ten (86%) SMEs said the growth of their business relies on their ability to recruit millennial talent. In fact, a quarter (25%) said they want a millennial to take over their business one day.
It is estimated that millennials will account for more than half of the global workforce by 2020 and will shape the workplaces of tomorrow.

Power shift to millennial job-seekers

More than three quarters (77%) of SMEs said they feel under pressure to sell themselves to millennials when seeking to hire from this group. Indeed, a third (33%) of firms worry that a job offer has been turned down in the past because the young candidate didn’t like their business culture.

In fact, the survey showed that more than half (56%) of millennials would turn down a job offer if they didn’t like a company’s culture, even if the salary was right.
Because of this, more than half (52%) of businesses think the balance of power has shifted to millennials within the recruitment process.

As such, SMEs are reviewing and adapting their working practices, with most (88%) prepared to do this to ensure millennials choose to work with them.

To this end, small businesses are, on average, investing 15% of their annual turnover just on recruiting this generation.

Flexibility is a priority say millennials

When millennials were asked what they are looking for in a job, the most popular answer, cited by 45%, was flexible working hours, followed by regular training (32%) and the option to work from home (22%).

While 65% of SMEs think their business is already geared up correctly to attract millennials and offer them this kind of working environment, 40% said they need further guidance — such as enterprise mentoring support — to recruit this age group more effectively.

The most attractive skills SMEs want in millennials are their fresh ideas (61%), a different perspective (44%) and digital skills (38%).

Gareth Oakley, managing director, SME Banking, Lloyds Banking Group said: “SMEs need to work hard to recruit millennials as the future of their business could depend on having them on board. They can tap in to a range of attributes, from hard skills such as digital and technological know-how, to fresh ideas and new perspectives.

“Although SMEs are beginning to invest and change their business culture to make themselves more attractive, they also tell us that they need help to find the right people."