Finding the right way to recruit and retain a new generation of millennials entering the workforce can be a challenge to employers.
What factors are important to the employer and are these the same or different factors that future employees value?
That was the question that Martin Melilli, market president, Central NJ for Cherry Hill-based TD Bank, posed to a diverse panel at the Newark Regional Business Partnership (NRBP) Regional Economic Outlook program in Newark on Oct. 17.
The panel included: Nicole Alexander, director of professional and business development, McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter LLP; Tai Cooper, vice president policy and communications, New Jersey Economic Development Authority; Chisa Egbelu, co-founder and chief executive officer of Newark-based Pedul; Dr. Shereef Elnahal, president and CEO, University Hospital; and Gary Love, vice president sales and marketing, Port Newark-based FAPS Inc.
In addition to recruitment, the panel also addressed issues including diversity and inclusion, unconscious bias training, recruiting members of the LGBTQ community, sponsorship, mentorship and wellness programs.
Alexander said that she has noticed over the past year that it is no longer a buyer’s market.
“We are seeing more and more law school graduates being hired which is a good thing because they are able to graduate with all this debt and have a means by which to pay it off. From the employer’s perspective, we are under pressure particularly competing with New York firms and others to recruit as early as possible.”
Alexander added that her firm started recruiting for its summer associate classes in June and July of this year for next summer.
“Because we like to support regional schools in addition to many other wonderful schools out there, we recruit at Rutgers and Seton Hall and we like to support our local economy, but then the pressure is to get back and to get offers to these people right away,” Alexander said.
Cooper said that NJEDA looks at the issue from two perspectives.
“One is maintaining the talent pipeline that we have here. We have tremendous universities that are pumping out tremendous students. How do you keep them in the state? We are very competitive in that way and also how are we building up vibrant communities that these young students are going to want to stay in and live in. That’s a big focus at NJEDA.”
Cooper said that NJEDA recognizes that there is a huge change in what the market demands.
“There is a huge disconnect between what the employers want and what employees need. You have to be able to bridge that gap. I think that we are doing that successfully at NJEDA as an organization.”
Elnahal stressed the importance of identifying and defining millennials.
“They are no longer in college or in graduate school. They are our junior faculty; they are your prime workforce. The 25 to 50 getting up to the mid-30s, up to 40s workforce. In health care, that is your most productive employee in literally every single job. Your nurse, your advanced practice nurse, nurse’s aide, environmental service worker, foodservice worker and transporter. That is the most mission-critical part of our workforce development agenda in the hospital,” said Elnahal.
He said that studies indicate that millennials view salary as third or fourth down on the list of importance when considering factors regarding retaining and recruiting.
“Having a healthy culture and pride for workforce development opportunities and promotional opportunities within the organization are the most important things,” Elnahal said.
They also looked at transportation issues that affect a millennial workforce that prefers working in an urban environment.
Elnahal said that University Hospital has entered into a pilot program and a partnership with Hitch Health that uses Lyft as their ride-sharing service to bring patients to and from appointments to the hospital.
“It is important to actually get patients to come to their appointment because if you don’t they call 911 and an ambulance will bring them to the ER and that’s when they have gotten so sick that you are increasing their morbidity and the cost of care at the same time,” said Elnahal.
Alexander Heil, chief economist, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, told attendees that the overall global economic outlook is pessimistic.
“There are fewer jobs now available in the economy. The labor market is still growing, but overall the pace at which that is happening is slowing down.”
Heil pointed out, however, that there has been a very healthy trend of wage growth.
“There has been positive relatively robust wage growth and that is also represented in greater spending power higher household income and positive reinforcement mechanisms for the economy over the last month or so.”
The New York Fed, Heil said, is predicting a 35 percent recession probability.