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Relationship Management

How To Hire and Source The Best Millennial Employees

By Rebecca Hinds

Several major paradigm shifts are brewing in the workplace. We're embarking on a new era—the employee relationship economy. Just like the sales funnel, no longer do employee relationships have a fixed start and end date. In this new era, employee relationships will be characterized not as end-to-end but beginning-to-beginning.

The employee relationship economy has been fueled by a trifecta of trends—the rapid proliferation of technology, the surge of contingent workers, and the value of warm introductions. We've dismantled the traditional workplace model. Work is increasingly transpiring outside of the physical workplace, and employees are fundamentally changing their perceptions of work and career advancement. Millennials are increasingly choosing the startup route over corporations. The changes are calling for a new approach to hiring and sourcing employees.

The Rise of Boomerang Employees

Over the last few years, we've witnessed a marked rise of boomerang employees—employees returning to a previous employer. Employees have traditionally been reticent to hire past employees. Nearly half of HR professionals have had a policy restricting rehiring former employees, even those who left on strong terms, according to a study commissioned by The Workplace Institue and

Times have changed, however. The majority of HR professionals (76%) are more accepting of hiring boomerang employees than in years past. Millennials are especially inclined to "boomerang". 46% of Millennials would entertain the notion of returning to a previous employer, as compared to 33% and 29% of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, respectively.

What's especially impressive is the hiring rate of "boomerangers". 40% of HR professionals say their organization has hired about half of former employees who applied. Former employees' familiarity with the organizational culture, coupled with the fact that they require less training and onboarding compared to new hires, makes them especially top-tier talent.

The Surge of On Demand Workers

According to a recent report by RiseSmart study, the employee relationship economy is also being fueled by a dramatic increase in on-demand and contract workers. Workers are increasingly yearning for flexible work arrangements that allow them to move between employers and professional advancement opportunities. The report notes that experts predict that 40% of the workforce will be on-demand workers, explaining, "The best and most sought-after talent will be able to cherry-pick their assignments with companies." Given the rise of project-oriented work, employers will need to tap into new pools of talent and redefine their employment strategies.

The Need for More Warm Introductions to Reach Top Candidates

There’s a reason why people are four times more likely to buy when they’re referred by a friend. We trust the people in our network to have our best interests at heart. In this new job environment, companies are increasingly needing to look beyond traditional job markets for lucrative candidates, including boomerang employees and on-demand workers. Warm introductions are invaluable to gaining a leg up on the competition. The next generation of candidates isn't merely going to be sourced via a headhunter or a cold email. The best candidates will rely on their networks referrals for their next big role. Workers sourced by referrals are valuable even they do not ultimately accept the offer. Even if the position is not right for the referral, it might be for a past colleague or friend. Research by has shown that employee referral programs are more likely to attract passive candidates. The best organizations adopt a long-term view when it comes to networking. They are in it for the “long game”. Recruiting is not about checking a box. It’s about building sustainable and long-term relationship and brands.

Employers need to embrace a new normal. Relationship building with employees—past and present—and with customers and other partners are becoming more and more critical. The RiseSmart study explains, "Employers will see departing employees as their future brand ambassadors, customers, hiring references, and possibly future employees." As it stands, the vast majority of employers are not adequately prepared for the new environment. 80% of employees say former employers don't currently have a strategy aimed at encouraging them to return—64% state that there appears to be no strategy in place aimed at maintaining a relationship.

Using Affinity, employers and employees—past, present, and potential—can assess and monitor the strength of their relationships with their network. They can supercharge their relationship intelligence by keeping tabs on at-risk relationships and more effectively tap into new and more lucrative talent.

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Relationship Management