If you are taking any notice, you’ll quickly agree that the so-called “Millennial” generation (1978 – 1995) will be forming the majority of the workforce by the year 2020. And, with this in mind, it is easy to envision how this millennial generation of employees will influence the way we work and operate in the workplace. Not only that, Millennials are already being perceived as a group that may well be more demanding with respect to rewards and recognition.
As an executive search professional, I certainly recall the demands made by the generation X employees when they came into the workplace. For instance, I recall one engineering student being offered a desk made completely from mini-blocks as his signing bonus. Still others initiated the trend of bringing dogs to work along with the trend of business casual dress and flexible work hours.
But, since every generation brings its own style to the workplace, what is so different about the Millennials? For one thing, Millennials are expected to engage in more “job hopping” than earlier generations. That’s because company loyalty isn’t as important as progressing in their career at a more rapid rate. As a result, they’ll change jobs more quickly in order to achieve their level of satisfaction. So, count on a tenure ranging from eighteen months to three years.
Not only that, studies show that Millennials are already earning more than the previous generation at the same age while they are also carrying more debt. This then suggests that their demand for compensation and benefits will be higher and may well create pressure on the salary offers.
As well, Millennials are the first generation to literally grow up with technology. They are quick to discard what they feel is outdated equipment and to adapt to the latest techniques. In fact, don’t bother offering a laptop as their signing bonus, they have already moved on to the latest gadget. Millennials like being connected 24/7 and prefer texting and Facebook rather than the standard email as their chosen channel for communication.
Millennials also have more of a social conscience than earlier generations and are much more socially liberal and accepting of diversity. They want to make a difference in the world and, in fact, will put this goal first before following in a set career track. They are especially interested in environmental stewardship, they excel at teamwork and finally they are self-confident and savvy.
What does all this mean for the recruitment and retention of Millennial employees?
First of all, Millennials don’t like to be labeled, so while it is important to understand their needs and values, take care to avoid labeling them as such. Since Millennials are heavy technology users, you will have to ensure you have the latest of equipment and stay ahead of the trends. Be prepared to create a variety of assignments so that they are continually challenged while they are learning new skills. Work closely with your Millennials and help them understand that completing “probation” doesn’t mean an automatic promotion and/or a move into your own private office.
One of the key challenges you may face is the ability to reach out to a Millennial and to get them interested in your job in the first place. With Millennials getting most of their news from the internet, advertising is best done through social media with ads that are focused on the benefits to the candidate rather than focusing on your corporate history.
Whereas Millennial’s look for a job where they can make a difference, recognize that candidates would be interested in your corporate social responsibility and environmental stewardship efforts. Be sure to mention these opportunities in your marketing campaigns and help candidates understand where and how they can participate.
Where I find many employers are weak is in the knowledge of the market rates for compensation and benefits in their industry sector. Millennials think nothing of going on the internet and attempting to confirm their potential salaries. In many cases, they are not making good comparisons, yet you must be ready for the questions, requests for verification and counter offers that will surely take place as the Millennial candidate negotiates for his/her job.
OK, you’ve been successful in hiring your Millennials, and now you have to manage them! In my mind, in order to be successful, managers must be open minded, tolerant of the many questions and process improvement challenges that will come your way and be able to provide effective feedback and guidance. Whereas these young people won’t have much work experience, you will also have to tolerant as you teach them that crossed legs folded up on the chair is not professional practice and that looking professional still really does count for something.
There are many challenges in today’s work world, but understanding, training, coaching and mentoring of your new young employees combined with meaningful work will go a long way to building a strong employee team.