Much has been written about the differences of expectations and thought processes of the millennial generation and how they approach employers and employment in general. With all of this as a foundation, what remains is that this generation is the single largest group in sheer numbers in the history of this country. With 30% unemployed or extremely underemployed, we are missing out on their contributions to become the next leaders. As a society, country, and as leaders, we cannot afford to allow this to continue. Our society will suffer as an outcome of not integrating this generation. We cannot afford this level of unemployed talent. We must seek a new balance.
Millennials bring with them a set of internal needs, wants, and demands unlike any other generational cohort. Millennials, as well as knowledge workers in general, are highly motivated by such intangibles as the ability to work independently, peer recognition, enhanced learning opportunities, and the ability to relate knowledge they acquire to what they already know.
By 2020, when most Millennials are of working age, they will represent the largest workforce generation in American history. They will be the most techno-savvy, goal-oriented conglomeration that organizations have ever seen. It is important to note the evolving definitions of this generation’s goals.
What makes Millennials Tick?
While this group has little work experience, they’re poised to thrive in a culture of flexibility. They are predisposed to question existing rules and norms. They will not necessarily uphold time-honored traditions and will maintain a strong individual spirit. They are adept at multitasking. Their minds have been de facto “trained” to take in more information than those who came before them, and they are not flustered by it.
As a group, Millennials tend to be more optimistic and confident than the Gen Xers before them. Once embarking upon their careers, they can prove to be highly ambitious and look forward to rapid career growth and requisite perks.
As author Ron Alsop notes in The Trophy Kids Grow Up, “In addition to more frequent and detailed performance assessments, Millennials want companies to nurture their career development. They’re clamoring for more coaching, training, and mentoring programs. That in itself represents a challenge, but the longer you’ve been in a recruiting position, beyond having to adroitly identify, comprehend, and inspire the Millennial worker, you also need to understand that the Millennials are poised to become drivers of the new knowledge-era economy.”
The typical Millennial knowledge worker clocks in for about two years on jobs early in their careers. To ensure that your organization is the one with which a talented young Millennial puts down roots, you must understand what types of organizations and benefits are attractive to the Millennial worker.
Key Factors to Integrating and Retaining Millennials
As for any group that will ultimately be 84 million strong, there will be no single cookie-cutter solution to organizational culture that will be effective in all instances. Fortunately, employers can rely on some old standbys: Millennials are often aware of compensation packages offered by companies within the same industry. Understandably, the Millennial’s urge to pay off college loans is a motivating factor. So, too, is the urge to appear stylish—perhaps buy that car after all and ultimately get a place of one’s own.
This generation of employees also puts a high value on training and ongoing learning and regards it as essential for both short-term development and long-term viability. Because Millennials place a high value on making solid contributions in the workplace, and regard training and learning as an essential element for continuing to make such contributions, this benefit could prove to be an ace up your sleeve in retaining talented Millennials.
When it comes to choosing an employer, Millennials maintain a curiously noble streak. They want to work for companies that are socially responsible, locally and around the world. Community contributions and environmental responsibility matter with this generation. Companies that show regard for human resources rate high as well.
For everyone's well being, executives, recruiters, and all others who bring new talent into the organization, we need to cross over the lines of differences, build bridges that will bring us closer to working together as people and professionals. Most of all, we need to tap into new thinking and redefining work and life in this rapidly changing global environment! What role will you take on?
Dr. David Miles is Chairman of the Miles LeHane Companies, Inc. He is a member of the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD), a member and founding chapter President of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the Association of Career Professionals (ACP) and a Charter Fellow of the Institute of Career Certification International (ICC International), as the largest global non-profit certification Institute. Author of The Four Pillars of Employable Talent and Building Block Essentials. Follow David on Twitter @David_C_Miles.