Heidi Richards (L) and Renee Gardner (R)


How to attract and keep a millennial workforce

Music whiz Renee Gardner has been programming songs at Nightlife Music for 12 years, just one of the 68 millennials (or Gen Y) this music tech company has on the 120-person payroll.

Through her time at Nightlife, Australia’s largest music technology company, Renee has progressed from an initial sales role to become the music team leader looking after a bunch of talented music experts all choosing and vetting content for thousands of Australian and international locations.

“As soon as I walked inside the doors of this building, I could tell it was very different to everywhere else I’d ever worked, and I could see people actually having a good time and it just seemed like a really awesome place to work.”

“To stick around and be in a job for as long as I have, there’s got to be something a bit deeper than that surface level stability to keep people happy. I’ve had lots of opportunities for career progression – I’ve lived it, I’ve breathed it and I’m a result of it.”

By 2030 it’s estimated that around 75% of the global workforce will be made up of the millennial generation* – born between 1980 and the early 2000s, ranging in age from 40 through to 17 years old.

This generation is rightly a high focus for businesses across the country and has been under the microscope this year following comments by Muffin Break General Manager Natalie Brennan, who claimed social media millennials had an inflated view of their worth.

While this wide generation of workers have been stereotyped as lazy or entitled, Head of HR at Nightlife Music Heidi Richards disagrees and says attracting  and retaining this demographic of staff – which currently makes up over half the workforce of the company – is a high priority in the new digital age of business.

She says all businesses, not just those in the tech space, should value their contribution and be aware of changing societal views.

Why does Nightlife value millennials?

Growing up as technology has grown, means these people are tech savvy and digitally aware. They have on trend, innovative ideas and work well in collaborative and driven work environments.

In your opinion, what keeps Gen Y engaged in their work?

Career progression is huge so things like clear development plans, feedback to bolster productivity and variety of work is important. Rewarding, challenging projects along with responsibility and ownership is also high on the list. Gimmicks like table tennis don’t work, although we do offer free breakfast.

Apart from their careers, what else do millennials value?

They are very switched on to how their existence and actions affect the world around them. Working in a company that proudly shares its environmental and humanitarian efforts and allows staff to contribute to charities and even recycling takeaway coffee cups is important to them.

What strategies can be implemented to attract these employees?

I can’t emphasis career progression enough – people want to know that they are working toward something and have opportunities within the business to grow and evolve. Job flexibility and a nurturing work culture are also very important; we care about our people.

What are your top 3 strategies for keeping younger employees engaged in their work and in the business?

Career development, communication, listening to their ideas and empowerment. Giving staff ownership of projects helps foster success and gives people an immense feeling of satisfaction, contribution and achievement.

As for Renee, she says she has lots more to contribute and isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

“I’ve done 12 years and honestly it’s been brilliant. I don’t think you stay somewhere unless you’re really enjoying yourself. I walk out every day and feel like I’ve achieved something.”

“There’s something there in all of us that appreciates music on a deeper level and being able to incorporate that into your everyday job is pretty unheard of. So it’s a pretty exceptional experience to be able to do that.”


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