Conference explores benefits of attracting millennials into Solent businesses 

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP: Matthew Samuel-Camps, Managing Partner at property consultancy Vail Williams LLP, centre, with guest speakers at the consultancys annual Solent Thought Leadership event. From left, Rob Stangroom of Irwin Mitchell, Sarah Kavanagh of Southern Co-op, Jane Holt of Southampton Science Park, Matthew, Philip Gray of Irwin Mitchell, Terence Dankyi and Carrie Foster.
THOUGHT LEADERSHIP: Matthew Samuel-Camps, Managing Partner at property consultancy Vail Williams LLP, centre, with guest speakers at the consultancys annual Solent Thought Leadership event. From left, Rob Stangroom of Irwin Mitchell, Sarah Kavanagh of Southern Co-op, Jane Holt of Southampton Science Park, Matthew, Philip Gray of Irwin Mitchell, Terence Dankyi and Carrie Foster.
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BUSINESSES looking to attract and retain millennials should focus on similarities rather than differences. 

That was the message from generational change experts at the fifth annual Solent Thought Leadership conference by property consultancy Vail Williams LLP.

SUMMING UP: Matthew Samuel-Camps, Managing Partner, Vail Williams LLP, a commercial property consultancy covering the Solent region.

SUMMING UP: Matthew Samuel-Camps, Managing Partner, Vail Williams LLP, a commercial property consultancy covering the Solent region.

Attended by 120 business professionals, it was held at University of Southampton Science Park, home to 100 companies and around 1,200 people.

The event provided insights into Generation Y - the demographic cohort name given to millennials aged 20 to 34. 

It explored how there can be four or even five generations of workers in the same business due to changing demographics and higher retirement ages.

For example, by 2031, the number of 65-year-olds and over will outnumber people under 20 in the UK. 

Positive characteristics of millennials include collaboration, global citizenship, a social conscience, flexibility, a desire to fix and being tech savvy.

They are also said to prefer light, spacious and contemporary workspaces, constant connectivity through technology and social media and a work-life balance.

Another requirement was having a relaxing place to 'decompress' at work.

But a Generation Y downside can be a job-hopping tendency, the event was told. This has financial implications for business; research shows that it can cost up to £11,000 to replace an average employee at small to medium-sized enterprises.

Six out of 10 millennials expect to move on from their employer within two years, with only 12 per cent looking to stay beyond five years, attendees heard.

Findings from a recent survey of 165 office occupiers were also shared; more than half stated that attracting and retaining millennials, along with retaining so-called ‘twilighters’ close to retirement age, was key. A further 40 per cent of respondents said attracting and retaining millennials were essential.

Vail Williams’ managing partner, Matthew Samuel-Camps, said: 'As employers, we need to embrace the strengths of millennials. They are wired differently but, unless we understand what they have to offer, our businesses will not continue to strive and remain successful.'

‘Businesses should focus on similarities rather than despair at differences.

'Our Solent Thought Leadership provided revealing insights into millennials and how those businesses which better understand and address their needs, without alienating older colleagues, will stay relevant and competitive.'

Guest speakers were Jane Holt, in charge of business development at University of Southampton Science Park, Carrie Foster, an author and practitioner in organisation development, and Terence Dankyi, a workplace futurologist and post-graduate business student at the University of Southampton.

Also speaking were Philip Gray and Rob Stangroom from legal firm Irwin Mitchell, and Sarah Kavanagh, business transformation and HR director at retailer Southern Co-op, which has employees ranging from 16 to 79.