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How your brand can attract and retain top millennial talent

A recent Sunday Times GenNext webinar discussed what qualities employers are looking for in millennial employees, and the value they bring to companies

26 May 2022 - 11:08
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Millennials are known to bring youthful enthusiasm and a fresh perspective to their roles, making them a valuable addition to any team.
Millennials are known to bring youthful enthusiasm and a fresh perspective to their roles, making them a valuable addition to any team.
Image: Supplied/Pexels/Fauxels

The big question for many media and marketing employers is how to attract and keep the best millennial talent. Millennials and the younger generation can bring a fresh perspective to the workplace, but hiring them can be challenging as many seem to be less committed to keeping a job long-term. 

A recent Sunday Times GenNext webinar, held in partnership with Yellowwood and hosted by entrepreneur Luyanda Duma, focused on how to appeal to and retain millennial talent. (Watch a recording of this virtual event below.)

There is no question that brands need millennials to speak to other millennials with authenticity, through TikTok and Instagram, in their language and from their perspective, said Leigh Carter, head of digital and group brand partnerships at Arena Holdings. Business leaders need to realise that inclusivity is the key: by listening to younger employees, they are providing a learning experience and there’s the chance of discovering “a kernel of brilliance” along the way.

When looking to recruit millennials, Carter said she looks for individuals who ask questions, who can start from the bottom, who can communicate both up and down, and who have a strong work ethic. You can’t teach attitude, she said, which is an attribute that tends to stand out. 

Business leaders need to realise that inclusivity is the key: by listening to younger employees, they are providing a learning experience and there’s the chance of discovering 'a kernel of brilliance' along the way
Leigh Carter, head of digital and group brand partnerships at Arena Holdings

SA youth voted Mercedes-Benz the coolest company to work for in 2020 and 2021. Thato Mntambo, GM of corporate affairs at Mercedes-Benz SA, explained that the product epitomises luxury, quality and success. The company is a large one with positions available across the field from law and finance to engineering. Mentorship and coaching programmes are offered, along with learnership opportunities and the chance to study further. The company’s diversity and inclusion practices mean that employees feel comfortable in the workplace.

Employing quality millennials is essential for the economy, said Mntambo, adding that the earners of today are the spenders of tomorrow. 

Lesedi Mashale, group corporate brand and PR lead for Samsung, revealed that the company keeps itself relevant by investing in Gen Z and who they are. Staying relevant includes creating up-to-the-minute content and technology like their 2022 Instagram filter and using TikTok as a marketing strategy.

Mashale’s ideal qualities in a millennial employee are education, an ability to connect with Gen Z and a passion for what they do. 

Joe Public senior copywriter Kagiso Molete agreed, saying that leaders need to “groom passion”. She revealed that she looks for employees who are hardworking and prepared to express their individuality in their work.

Any organisation is “the sum of its people” and flexibility needs to be encouraged to promote happiness in the workplace, said Masingita Mazibuko, consumer brand and communications executive at Telkom, while communication and feedback ensures that employees aren’t overwhelmed. 

Given SA’s high rate of unemployment, finding a job in any industry is difficult, pointed out Lisa Mavundla, a member of the junior board of directors and programme manager of 22 On Sloane.

Young people, Mavundla said, need to use their networks, find platforms, join a learnership, be an intern, shadow someone with experience and keep learning. They need to make connections and invest in conversations.

“Be a beginner,” she said.

The next Sunday Times GenNext online dialogue, How to appeal to the most sustainability-conscious generation, will take place on June 15 at 9am. For more information, or to register, click here.


About Sunday Times GenNext

Now in its 18th year, Sunday Times GenNext is the leading youth-focused brand preference and consumer behaviour survey and event in SA.

Based on the result of this survey, powered by Yellowwood, the brands voted as “SA's coolest” will be announced and celebrated during the annual Sunday Times GenNext Awards. Taking place on September 16, this year's highly-anticipated awards ceremony will be a hybrid affair.

In an interactive showcase on September 15, 300 young people will gather to engage with brands through displays, activations and competitions at the Empire Conference & Events Venue in Parktown, Johannesburg. Should you be interested in showcasing your brand at this event, email Cortney Hoyland at hoylandc@arena.africa

Sunday Times GenNext would not be possible without the brand's valued partners: the Gautrain Management Agency, Brand SA, Pin Pop and Cliff Central.



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