We’ve heard about the challenges Millennials create for employers, and we’ve seen them mocked with stereotypes of their self-absorbed attitudes, but the group of workers born after 1980 will soon account for nearly half the workforce in the U.S. and their unique talents may be the key to success for those who hire and encourage them.
These 18- to 34-year-olds are smart and sophisticated potential employees, connected to an expansive social network that helps guide their likes, dislikes and decision-making. Their support teams are deep, smart and well-informed. Friends, even parents, have real influence in their decisions, and will be vetting your company, as much as you are vetting the job candidate.
Surveys have found that Millennials have slightly different priorities in their jobs and lives; different but not entirely unique.
Demonstrate the path to career success: Millennials want a path to advancement and to know that you – as a company and potential employer – can deliver. They want to see the rubric (if you’re not sure what a rubric is, ask a Millennial) on how to attain a leadership position. Most important, they want to see that you have thought about their career development.
It also helps that they will be able to tell their parents about their entry-level job and the entrepreneurial and advancement opportunities it provides. Remember, parents are invested like never before, emotionally and financially, and as part of the influencing network, they are not thinking about your company; they are thinking about their child’s future.
Enable technology natives: Millennials use technology and evolving forms of communication to socialize, collaborate and explore. They likely won’t need training on your system and processes. They either already know how to use them, or will figure it out quickly on their own. Let them. They probably will create a new process to do their work more effectively.
Most importantly, they want their work to have purpose. This will take time and effort to communicate effectively. They need to understand how their work adds value to the company, and how it can make a difference in the world. However, Millennials don’t always need to know they are helping a third world country or a disadvantaged group. They need to know they have helped your customer and their actions made a difference.
Embrace Work Life Flexbility: Remember, in this fast-paced age, their lives are a constant juggling act. In that sense, they are similar to the 20-somethings of older generations: managing a social life, the start of a family, a new job and new responsibilities, all at the same time. But their hyper-scheduled childhood followed by the college application – the one that needed to be heavy on extracurricular activities – intensifies the multiple demands in their lives.
So they are probably going to leave the office at five. They are not going to stay late just because the deadline is tomorrow. They put a premium on life outside the office. This might fit nicely into your corporate strategy, but the successful partnership will require well-defined performance measures and encouragement.
Jeff Horn is the managing partner at River Birch Group LLC, a Mequon-based consulting firm that provides professional services and staffing to augment sales and marketing teams. Horn has led sales and operations teams in real estate, technology and promotions for nearly two decades.