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Four Recommendations for Attracting Business & STEM Talent to the FMCG Industry

By Universum on 04/05/2017

As with all industries, FMCG has to adapt to the demands of millennial talent. Flexible working, instant feedback loops, having more of say in the decision-making process and the sense of purpose are all elements requested by millennials. There is a very clear understanding of what millennials want, but the question remains; How will your company go about approaching this? My recommended approach would be to pick out a few standout features of your employer brand and focus on these.

Pay close attention to how younger employees experience their daily work lives
Our research shows FMCG-bound students are particularly interested in considerations such as a friendly work environment and a creative workplace. Employers must investigate how to offer this type of experience to talented, young professionals.
Large multinationals such as Colgate-Palmolive and Johnson & Johnson are consistently ranked the highest in terms of delivering high quality of life for employees, but even smaller companies can have a big impact. US-based Clif Bar, makers of a fast-growing line of snack products, offers employee perks that are particularly attractive to younger workers. These include an on-site gym and paid sabbaticals, and allowing people to bring their dogs to work – all things that appeal to its young, health-conscious employee base.
For employers it’s critical to understand which quality-of-life issues matter to employees at different life stages. The benefits relevant to someone in their 20s will differ significantly from those welcomed by a 50-year-old. And whenever possible, it’s crucial to ensure your unique set of benefits aligns with your company’s culture and vision – in the way that Clif Bar supports healthy living for both consumers and employees.

Competitive remuneration will always attract top talent, but work-life balance, and strong training and development programs will retain talent
Just as employees need work-life balance benefits that match their stage of life, so too should training and development match the real needs of your employees based on their circumstances.
For younger workers, this means training and development programs that offer real-time feedback. These employees not only want different training and development, but more of it. Research from Deloitte shows young workers want to increase the amount of time spent on leadership development skills, from 2.7 hours a week (current) to 4.5 hours a week (ideal) – an increase of two-thirds.Also, mentoring is a critical strategy for Millennials: Those who indicate they intend to stay with their current employer for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68 percent) than not (32 percent).

Finally, this cohort of young students cares deeply about leaders who support their development – something that should be seriously considered when developing training and development programs. For example, some organizations are finding that by dropping formal annual performance reviews in favor of more frequent check-ins, they can foster stronger support relationships between managers and their direct reports. Others support “reverse mentoring,” in which younger professionals support older employees in areas such as digital and social media, technology or understanding future trends.

Employers must take a regional approach to recruiting and retention
Research from Universum shows significant variability in goals and aspirations between countries, as well as based on area of study. To recruit for specific highvalue roles – be they in product development, digital marketing or the sciences – employers must segment their audience and create messages that engage those segments. And it’s not enough to do this by region, as some – APAC in particular – show significant variability among countries in close proximity. Chinese STEM students bound for jobs in FMCG vary significantly from Japanese students, who are very different from those from Singapore and Indonesia.

Ultimately this type of local-level recruiting is not just key to attracting top talent; it will also determine how effectively multinationals can compete with fast-growing local brands.

Companies in the FMCG industry must look to other sectors for ideas about innovation
Given the disruptive changes in the industry – such as the rise of new delivery models, and consumer demand for greater transparency around social and environmental issues – FMCG companies should consider going outside their industry for inspiration. This will allow them to see how other companies have managed disruption, and observe how they position their new vision to future employees. For the consumer goods industry, it’s essential to hire talent that can contend with the fast pace of change and drive future innovation, and it’s possible these individuals are attracted to industries other than FMCG.

Companies should consider which key employee attributes will be necessary to outmaneuver the competition – for example entrepreneurial skills or innovative thinking – and then create customized recruitment programs to attract high-value employees.