Top tips to recruit and retain millennials in your workforce in the Middle East
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Top tips to recruit and retain millennials in your workforce in the Middle East

Top tips to recruit and retain millennials in your workforce in the Middle East

Tech-savvy as they may seem, millennials re also a mixed breed that understand the traditional ways of life

Gulf Business

Millennials, aka Gen Y, are now the dominant workforce in industries such as tech, creative and retail. Born between 1981 and 1996, they are a unique generation who witnessed the 2008 global recession and our transition from analog to digital technology.

Tech-savvy as they may seem, they are also a mixed breed that understand the traditional ways of life. Millennials navigated streets before and after Google Maps. They managed relationships before and after Facebook. They are also generalised as self-absorbed, fickle-minded, and impatient. It is no surprise that Gen X and Baby Boomer managers find them confusing and challenging to work with at times.

If you are a leader whose role heavily involves recruiting or leading a millennial workforce, here are some frameworks and statistics that may help you steer a responsive management style.

  1. Drive your recruitment strategy through videos and stories

Gen X relied in the 90s on newspapers and TV for information. Millennials meanwhile get everything instantly on Google Search. Thanks to technology, they make more informed decisions – from comparing shoe prices at online to discovering the latest fashion trends on Pinterest. Millennials in the Middle East are also among the world’s top consumer of online videos, spending about three hours per day on videos that range from “how to be better” to “how to look better” themes.

This behaviour is also no different when it comes to careers. Millennials today use LinkedIn, Facebook, and Glassdoor to know more about their employers—and validate how authentic they are. To be the employer of choice, HR departments must invest in engaging millennials through online content: day-in-a-life-videos on YouTube or testimonials on Instagram stories. To attract the best talent, companies must be omnipresent in spaces where millennials thrive.

  1. Capitalise on their love for travel

This ‘TikTok generation’ spends heavily on travel for both leisure and personal growth—and they love sharing their experiences with their peers. According to Visa, millennials in the Middle East are one of the highest travel spenders globally, spending twice as much as their European counterparts.

When showcasing career opportunities to millennials, create ones that allow them to learn ‘outside the office walls’: business travels, conferences abroad, and short international assignments. A more diverse workforce can also attract millennials—about 57 per cent of them in the region say they enjoy learning about other cultures, and 47 per cent consider themselves as ‘global citizens’ rather than a person belonging to a particular group.

  1. Consider flexible employment in your radar 

Millennials know that today’s jobs can be rendered obsolete quickly by technology. They want a future-proof, flexible career that allows them to change lanes as they age. They ask questions like, “If I succeed in this role, where can I go to next? Can I be rotated to a new department to learn new skills? Can we do a work-at-home arrangement once a week if I prove that I do well in my role?” Companies who retain millennials in the long run design schemes that give them space to cope as they mature into adulthood.

Millennials also don’t just see employment as the last destination for their careers. They now have more success tracks as freelancers, consultants, and entrepreneurs. HSBC reports that Middle East is home to one of the highest proportions of millennial entrepreneurs in the world, with about 63 per cent of the business owners they screened in the region aged 35 or under. About 70 per cent of millennials also think that starting their own business is essential.

 Take things with a grain of salt

Note to treat the term ‘millennial’ with caution. While millennials can be easily generalised as the ‘twenty or thirty-something’ youth, they also have their subgroups. Some of them are fresh graduates who are still living from paycheck to paycheck. Some are new parents who are taking care of toddlers. Some are self-made startup founders who are turning 40 soon. Finally, to flip the other side of the coin, millennials also yearn for the same things employees of any age will wish from their employer: to be valued for their hard work and be treated with respect.

Jonathan Yabut runs a management consultancy firm, JY Consultancy and Ventures, and has published three motivational books in Southeast Asia 

He will be appearing at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature taking place from February4-9, 2020. For more information visit



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