“I don’t really need younger employees; I want experienced professionals”
“I can’t find the right person for this position.”
“I just don’t understand what motivates my employees anymore.”
Do these complaints sound similar to what you’ve faced in your vacation rental business? If so, this guide to attracting, hiring and retaining younger employees — specifically in the vacation rental industry — could be very beneficial for your business.
In With the New (Employees)
Beaver and Hutchings acknowledge that younger workers often demand higher wages and necessitate investment in training and development, which can be particularly difficult for small- to medium-sized vacation rental management companies. However, you cannot afford to avoid hiring and developing younger talent any longer.
More than 53.5 million workers in the U.S. are millennials— that’s a majority of all employees. Both hiring managers and younger workers agree that younger employees are generally better with technology, learn quicker than counterparts, are incredibly creative and adapt well to a variety of situations. Beaver and Hutchings add that younger employees offer small businesses entrepreneurial skills and new ideas that can help grow your rental company.
Evan Waters, director in the marketing department at Naspers, speaks to the power of young folks in the vacation rental industry: “By pushing new technology to new devices, [millennials] are democratizing the holiday home experience.”
Finding the Needle in the Haystack
Due to the business climate caused by the Great Recession, the prevailing human relations trend has been to “hire slow, fire fast” the past few years. While this change in ideology might sound attractive, the trend has led to many more job openings than hired employees and a surplus in the U.S. of almost 5 million open positions.
Part of the problem is that only 21 percent of hiring managers are focused on attitude and personality of job candidates, while 55 percent of them are focused on finding candidates who already have the skills they want.3 This trend is expected to continue, which is a particularly difficult sign for young workers with little experience outside of the classroom.
The best way to find the right young person to bring into your vacation rental business is to recruit young workers who show great work ethic and a desire to learn, rather than the futile pursuit of perfect personality, attitude or skills.
In her novel Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth explains that talent x effort = skill, but it’s skill x effort = achievement. This formula shows the importance of skills and talents, but if your business is looking for results in the form of more reservations, happier guests or a larger portfolio of properties, then employee effort is what will make the difference over the long-term.
You Need to Move it, Move it
I predict that most vacation rental companies fail to match the priorities, motivations and values reflected by their younger employees. Millennials tend to value entrepreneurial flexibility and control, working relationships, exciting work, good mentorship, growth opportunities and a work/life balance. In contrast, more than 75 percent of the time, companies provide rewards to their employees in the form of money. As a result, 53 percent of all companies report that it is difficult to hire and retain their employees.
To better hire, motivate, and retain employees, management should determine the most feasible and equitable way to fulfill the extrinsic and intrinsic motivations of their employees. For example, to fulfill Michael Goldin’s desire to solve challenging problems at Rented.com, he’s been provided with the task of diversifying their vacation rental marketplace, which he finds to be “exciting, fast-paced, stressful, challenging and rewarding.” Michael finds this much more motivating than recognition or even money.
Instead of trying to change younger workers to fit the company’s position, companies that have the flexibility to adapt their positions and company culture with younger employees and their motivations in mind will separate their vacation rental business from the competition.
Regardless of your role in the vacation rental industry, I hope you realize the importance of finding, hiring and motivating hardworking, younger employees to help maintain and grow your company. While it can be hard pass on someone who has the necessary skills for your position, if you can identify and hire someone who may need development but is motivated to outwork everyone else, it’s this kind of hiring that will benefit the company in the long-term.
 Beaver, Graham, and Kate Hutchings. "Training and Developing an Age Diverse Workforce in SMEs." Education Training 47.8/9 (2005): 592-604. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
 Fry, Richard. "Millennials Surpass Gen Xers as the Largest Generation in U.S. Labor Force." Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center, 11 May 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
 Duckworth, Angela. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. New York, NY: Scribner, 2016. Print.