[ Article By Cleiby Jarukaruta, Yash Dubal and Judy Kenninger | Published in ARDA Developments Magazine]
Many millennials now have a decade or more of professional work experience and are stepping into middle- and senior-management roles.
To find out how this generation — now the largest single consumer group — is impacting the vacation ownership industry, we spoke with representatives at three companies: a large, branded developer (Holiday Inn Club Vacations); an independent resort (the Christie Lodge); and a leading exchange company (RCI).
How are these companies attracting millennials?
“Changes in technology tend to drive candidate behaviour more than the actual age of the candidate,” said Ciara Sisk, senior vice president of human resources for RCI.
“It’s also the nature of the job. We consistently attract and recruit talent through digital media and are increasing those efforts as the new generations of workers are becoming more tech-savvy.”
Flexible schedules aren’t always possible as most tasks, such as staffing the front desk, must be done on the resort’s schedule. Millennial and Gen Z individuals find it especially important that their places of employment have a higher purpose.
Emphasizing the higher purpose of the organization works for Holiday Inn Club Vacations (HICV). “We’re driven by our purpose of strengthening families, which resonates with our team members across all generations,” said John Rivera, vice president of talent acquisition and retention.
76% of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments before deciding where to work. Vacation ownership companies have a head start here.
“Social responsibility is completely ingrained in our own culture, including our long history of supporting Christel House,” RCI’s Sisk said.
Each year, RCI offers every associate a “Wish Day,” where they are paid to volunteer either as part of a teambuilding event or individually. The company’s efforts are featured in recruitment materials.
HICV has a similar program called Volunteer Time Off (VTO), through which employees volunteer during normal working hours while being paid.
“The closer our employees are to the charitable work, the more rewarding it is for them, and the more effective the aid is for the charitable organization,” Rivera explained.
Millennials on board
Once millennials are hired, are companies rethinking their training and development programs to accommodate their learning and work styles?
It’s hard to say where overall societal changes start and those directed to a changing workforce begin. HICV added two new leadership development programs in 2019.
“The first program targets non-management team members who have embraced our culture and are performing well in their current roles,” Rivera explained.
“The six-month program equips these team members for a leadership role. The transition from individual contributor to a leader of others can be a challenging career step, and this program allows for a proactive approach in giving team members the necessary tools for leadership success.
“The second program targets frontline, operational leaders who have shown the potential for higher management positions,” he added.
“This is also a six-month program focused on how to guide and direct a team of leaders. These programs allow for distinct cohorts from across the company to come together and progress through a training exercise as a team. Not only does this build out leadership bench strength, but it also solidifies the long-lasting relationships critical for success in a highly matrixed and geographically dispersed business.”
According to Sisk, RCI is providing more online training because research shows that 43% of Gen Z and 42% of millennials want fully self-directed and independent learning options. RCI also has shifted the way employees work. “We have introduced the Salesforce Service Cloud into our contact centres, which has evolved the way we train our staff, enhancing the use of technology when servicing our members’ calls,” Sisk said.
The first generation to have grown up with social media as part of their lives, millennials are considered “digital natives.” Although many have moved from Facebook to Instagram or other channels, 86% of them say they use social media.
“We maintain a robust presence on channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, regularly evaluating our content,” Rivera said. “Additionally, we rolled out a campaign, ‘Innside Look,’ to capture user-generated content about what it’s like to be a HICV team member. Using a third-party platform, Altru, team members submit short videos answering prompts and questions related to our company culture and their specific roles.
We then repurpose the content for our recruiting website and social channels, allowing future team members to understand our brand from the voice of current team members. We feel that millennial and Gen Z team members, in particular, appreciate the authenticity that #InnsideLook brings to our brand voice.”
RCI uses the hashtag #Work4RCI and encourages associates to be brand ambassadors on its platforms. “It’s not only about talent attraction. It’s about retaining our existing associates,” Sisk said. “Our associates take great pride in sharing their stories of everyday life with RCI.”