Are you doing the right things to attract the best staff?

That sounds interesting. What do you mean by ‘the right things’.?

I mean are you putting on a good enough show for people to want to come to your company and join in. The days of just putting out a job advert and waiting for all the CVs to fly in are over. Yes, you will still get lots of CVs to make you feel popular, but are they coming from the kind of person you really want to recruit. The best talent knows they are in demand and will take their time, do their homework and effectively pick and choose where they look to work. What’s more they won’t be happy just taking a job and sitting still for a couple of years. They will expect to be pushed, they will demand to be trained, they will constantly be looking for the next challenge and career opportunity and assessing whether your business can provide it for them or not.

My god they sound like a right bunch of prima donnas straight out of Fame Academy.

Welcome to the job market in 2019! You have to remember the new generation of job seekers have probably already invested tens of thousands into their own education and training and are looking for companies and career paths that allow them to make the most of that investment. They have also grown up in the connected age of the internet, social media and the smartphone. They have access to in-depth information about any business they are interested in and how they compare to others. They want to know what a potential future employer can offer them, rather than simply worry about what skills they have.

Sounds like you are talking about the much maligned millennial?

Got it in one. Gallup's latest report, How Millennials Want to Work and Live, reveals 59% of millennials say opportunities to ‘learn and grow’ are extremely important to them when applying for a job. In fact it is their number one reason. Compared to 44% of Generation Xers and 41% of Baby Boomers. That then increases to 87% when they are actually in the job, versus 69% of non-millennials. So if you’re not investing in your staff by offering what they see as meaningful training and development then you are going to lose them. Millennials, says Gallup, don't feel entitled, they feel empowered. They want to expand their knowledge and skills, they want to be useful, and they want their work and workplace to have meaning to them. They also expect a lot of their managers who they want to “invest in their futures, hone their skills and coach them to become the best workers they can be”. No pressure then.

OK, so what about those who were born after millennials - Generation Z?

You mean the current generation of school leavers and graduates? They are, or will be, entering the job market having lived through their school days being constantly analysed, graded, and assessed. Recruitment specialists say they will be even more choosy and demanding about their careers, but they will also be even more selective about the type of company they work for. What values they have? What charities they support? How inclusive they are? What’s the gender and ethnic balance of staff? Where do they rate in terms of equal pay, and what percentage of senior staff are women or come from an ethnic background? Information that should be freely and openly available and you will be judged badly if it is not. That’s long before they get round to sharing with you what their hobbies and areas of interest are.

So they are not impressed by a work canteen and free vending machine then?

Hardly. A study by the Institute for Public Relations reveals 47% of millennials won’t take a job if the company is not walking the walk on diversity. Millennials are more focused on what Lisen Stromberg, chief operating officer at The 3% Movement, calls “subjective outcomes, not objective results” which effectively means you can’t just tick the diversity box with the right respective quotas of women and those from an ethnic background. “Diversity, inclusion and belonging needs to be deeply embedded into the DNA of your company’s culture,” adds Stromberg.

Anything else?

Then, as a drinks company, or business that sells alcohol, you have the issue of how appealing you are to a generation of 16-21 year olds where nearly a quarter have never had an alcoholic drink and those that do have been brought up in a climate of health risks and moderation. Do you really want to work for a company where you will be expected to drink as part of your daily, or at least weekly, life. As a teetotaller, or very moderate drinker, the drinks industry is going to be way down on your pecking order. It’s quite likely not to be on it at all. If you do have a drink at that age, it’s more likely to be a pint of beer, cider, a shot, or a cocktail. Where does wine even sit on your radar? Never mind the idea of going to work for a company that only sells a product you never drink and know next to nothing about?

Well, this is rather depressing.

Sorry about that. It’s more of a wake up call to think about how attractive your business is to new recruits. You might be one of the best performing companies in wine, but how do you compare to other sectors and what the most sought after businesses and industries are doing. Like the technology giants Google, Apple, or Amazon. Look at how they recruit new talent. They have dedicated parts of their business and teams of staff whose job is to find the next best workers. They run extensive work experience programmes, open days for local schools and full blown apprenticeship schemes that offer guaranteed jobs at the end of them. Sky TV, for example, has a team of five dedicated to just running its apprenticeship programme, and offers multiple ways for young people to work there. How serious are you about training and development? Yes, you might offer WSET wine courses, but so what. That’s the bare minimum. How are you helping your staff grow as people, as employees and not just their ability to pick out a Grüner Veltliner in a blind tasting?

And finally?

Investing in staff makes sense from a long term business point of view. Let’s go back to the Gallup study. It discovered that 93% of millennials left their company the last time they changed roles. Whilst the reasons for leaving varied, they mainly switched companies because they believed they had little or no opportunity for growth where they were. So if that sounds like your business, you’re wasting a lot of time recruiting staff you are never going to hold on to.

  • This article was first published in Grapevine, the fortnightly insights newsletter I produce for The London Wine Fair.