We are constantly told that millennials are breaking the workplace rules. They refuse to work 9 to 5. They demand iPhones. They can’t work unless there’s a fridge full of beer and a pool table in the office. And with a growing war for digital talent, many digital leaders are setting their sights firmly on attracting the digital generation to their firms.

But a recent IBM study suggests an even more interesting conclusion. While the study largely agrees with every other conclusion on the desires of the millennial workforce, it also strongly pointed out that it’s not just “youngsters” that want autonomy, flexibility, empowerment, an awesome work environment that ignites their creativity and the feeling that what they do makes a difference.

It's everybody.

Mature digital teams, especially those that are setting out to transform major multinational businesses, need more than a bunch of twenty-something digital hipsters. They need a rounded set of competencies in areas like product ownership, customer-centric design and digital strategy governance. In fact, we deep-dive into that topic in a previous blog post. Developing these competencies demands a diverse and mature team. Digital leaders are realising that they need to offer more than just a fat paycheque to secure the best people. You could try this (link not safe for work!), but we don’t recommend it. In our latest report, Recruit And Retain Top Digital Talent, we examine the trends and best practices adopted by leading digital agencies, startups and also mature traditional firms that are well on the path to digital mastery.

We found dozens of great examples, best practices and inspirational ideas on how to build your employer brand as the digital destination of choice, no matter where you are based. Here’s three to get you thinking:

  • Autonomy leads to motivation and inspiration. Daniel Pink’s book Drive introduces the concept that people are internally motivated to be brilliant, and the right combination of autonomy, mastery and purpose motivates people far more than external factors like pay. Google famously gives employees a day a week to innovate. This may feel crazily out of reach for many eBusiness leaders, but not so. Multichannel fashion retailer River Island encourages open collaboration one day a month on its “Moonshot Mondays”, unleashing employees to innovate as they see fit, within certain loose guidelines.
  • A progressive work environment encourages collaboration. Work environments are a strong sign-post of corporate culture. But breaking free of Dilbert cubicle land demands more than a few motivational posters and a fussball table. Norwegian agency Creuna spent time and energy designing an environment that encourages open collaboration between agency teams and clients, provides space to innovate yet still retains a professional edge. Not only that, but they employ some top-notch drone pilots as well.
  • Talking and listening builds trust. Eric Richard, VP of engineering at marketing automation firm HubSpot champions open communication with employees at all levels, and uses an internal blog to help. But communication is a two-way process, as we know. Tools like TinyPulse help firms, especially larger and more distributed ones, take a regular heartbeat of how their workers are feeling.

The war for talent will only get tougher, and arguably with platforms like LinkedIn and GlassDoor empowering job hunters like never before, we are entering the age of the candidate. Attracting digital talent is hard, but there is a growing range of best practices that digital leaders to turn to.

If you have any more great examples, we’d love to hear from you.