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Getting More from Millennials

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Millennials are people born between the years 1980 and 2000. We’re still working on a name for kids born after the year 2000, but “New Millennials,” does kind of have a ring to it. Millennials are the people who you see looking confused and fashionable at the grocery store or skulking in the corner of your favorite place to get coffee. This generation is a big one and we should all hope that everyone’s fascination with them doesn’t mess with their heads.

This year, the Millennials are poised to overtake the baby boomers as the world’s largest living generation. What’s more, they are also taking over in the workplace, 2015 being the first year in which more Millennials are working than members of other generations. Basically, if you don’t work with any Millennials right now, you should expect to in the near future.

But, what should you expect? How is hiring and working with Millennials different than hiring and working with older generations?

Who are the Millennials?

As we’ve said, a Millennial is someone born between the years 1980 and 2000, but the fact that they’re young, isn’t the whole story. The Millennials are the first Digital Natives, meaning that many in this generation cannot remember a time when technology and the Internet were not a large part of their lives.

Many of this generation’s top technical minds were born into their skillset, getting comfortable on and with computers since they were children. Apart from being generally more comfortable with technology, Millennials are also using this technology differently than older generations. According to an international Millennial survey conducted by PWC, 41% of Millennials prefer to communicate with their co-workers electronically, rather than face to face.

Millennials also have a much different outlook on employment than older generations. These kids came into working age during a global economic downturn and several decades of big business scandals. Enron ring any bells?

Basically, the idea of working for one company, or even two companies over their career isn’t realistic to Millennials. According to the same PWC survey, 38% of millennials who are actively working, are actively looking for work and 18% of these working job seekers are open to offers.

What’s going on here? Are we all going to have to adjust to the expectations of this new generation? Are we going to have to figure out a new way of doing business?

Well, probably not. As with most things, the best solution is probably somewhere in the middle, between the business conventions of the past and the expectations of the next generation. In order to start meeting halfway, let’s look at what Millennials want in their work.

What do Millennials Want?

Do they want an espresso with each completed assignment? Do they want concert tickets with their quarterly review? Probably, but who wouldn’t?

More than anything else, Millennials want their job to mean something and to lead them somewhere in their career. They want to be doing work that has a real-world impact. They want to be recognized for the work that they’re doing and they want this work to lead to even greater work opportunities.

When asked what made for attractive qualities in an employer, Millennials said:

  • Career Progression- 52% of Millennials said that the ability to rise quickly through the organization was their main attractor to their current employer.
  • Money- 44% of Millennials said that a competitive salary was the most attractive quality in an employer.
  • Training/ Development- 35% of Millennials think that training and skill development are the most attractive quality in an employer.

In addition to a job that has a future, pays well and develops their skills, Millennials also want to share the values of their employer. According to the same PWC survey, 56% of millennials would consider leaving their employer if they did not share the same Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) standards. While this is down from 88% in PWC’s 2008 survey, employer brand is still a large consideration for many Millennials when deciding where and how to work.

Getting More from Millennials

As an employer, you want Millennials for their ambition and skills, not their tendency to job hop. To get more out of Millennials, you need to give them what they want.

Today’s restless generation can hardly commit to naming their favorite movies, let alone committing to a single job for multiple years. If you want to retain Millennials past their second year on the job, you will have to give them what they want: which is another job.

If you can provide Millennials an opportunity to advance in your organization on an explicit, accelerated timeline, expect much more loyalty than if you do not plan for their future. Millennials have entered their working lives on the assumption that jobs, companies and even entire industries may collapse at any time.

In order to get more from your Millennial employees, you will have to invest in their professional development and show then that you’re planning for their future. Without showing them that you’re prioritizing their future, then they will be forced to think of a future without your company in it.

What Millennials Want in their Next Job:

  • Opportunities for Progress: This generation doesn’t want to do the same job forever. Give Millennials a chance to prove themselves so they can advance in your company.
  • Opportunities to Learn: This generation wants to learn and build their skills at work. It is definitely in your best interest to facilitate this.
  • Diversity: Many Millennials place a high value on diversity in the company they work for.
  • Transparency: Millennials hate being out of the loop. This generation values transparency at work and instant feedback on the work that they produce.
  • Work-Life Balance: This generation values their personal time. Providing employee perks like a wellness stipend for gym memberships will show your employees that you value their personal time as well.
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