Peter G. Panacy – Staffing Coordinator, Blue Ribbon Personnel Services
Ah, yes. The Millennial generation – that group of people who were born after, or largely grew up in, the 2000s and know nothing about rotary telephones, dial-up modems or even having just three or four television channels.
It’s a polarizing group. Many an elder to these youthful up-and-comers might have described Millennials as the “generation of entitlement” or the “I want it now” generation.
Perhaps this is true. And yet it doesn’t matter because, well, this generation is going to be taking over the workforce in a very, very short amount of time.
You see, those “children” are becoming adults now. According to Jeff Fromm of Forbes.com, this generation will make up roughly 75 percent of the workplace by 2030. This means the Baby Boomers and Generation X-ers are going to be pushed out in the very near future.
It’s nothing new. The Industrial Revolution back in the 19th Century flipped then-common views of industry on its head. Now, we’re dealing with the High-Tech Revolution.
Only the changes are happening much faster.
The Millennials are all a part of it. Heck, they’re already influencing it. And if you’re a business owner or executive, you need to adjust what you do and how you do it.
Millennials get a bad reputation. They’re often viewed as lazy, glued to their smart phones or gadgets and not willing to actually work hard to achieve workplace success.
I’ve seen it firsthand. If I had a dollar for every enthusiastic recent-college grad who had zero work experience but said, “hey, I’ve got a degree,” I’d be significantly more wealthy than I am today. This is a generation that wants things now.
But, contrary to popular belief, they are willing to do the work. It just has to be challenging and worthwhile.
Can you guess the average tenure of Millennial employees? Two years. In the span of a professional career, two years seems to hardly make dent. In comparison, the average tenure for Gen X employees is five years and seven years for Baby Boomers. One of the primary reasons Millennials are more likely to change jobs is because they are not willing to stick around if they do not believe they are receiving any personal benefit or growth.
Smart companies have already started planning for this and are working to recruit and bring in Millennial talent on an ever-increasing basis.
Previous generations would like have stayed at a job for five, 10 or even 20-plus years. That would, essentially, be a career. Hopefully a fulfilling one.
But Millennials feel this fulfillment differently. As Fromm noted, any youthful up-and-comer isn’t going to stick around at a job where there isn’t any growth, upward mobility or increased scope of responsibility. He or she wants immediate satisfaction – that sense of accomplishment on day one, not months or years down the road.
Those reluctant to embrace this new generation will be quick to point out Millennials’ lack of longevity and impatience. But that simply falls into the bad-reputation trap many business owners and executives need to avoid.
You see, Millennials grew up with iPads, Wi-Fi internet, streaming movies and means to share and communicate with anyone in the world in an instant. Call this impatience if you will, but the reality is this group understands the cutting edge of technology. And they’re going to be better prepared to embrace and utilize high-tech gizmos and gadgets in the workplace.
Much more than you.
I remember making fun of my dad back in the 1980s when he couldn’t program the VCR. I felt savvy because he wasn’t. And now I’m the one who needs to catch up in order to stay competitive with this younger generation.
A report from PWC.com wrote:
Millennials’ use of technology clearly sets them apart. One of the defining characteristics of the millennial generation is their affinity with the digital world. They have grown up with broadband, smartphones, laptops and social media being the norm and expect instant access to information. This is the first generation to enter the workplace with a better grasp of a key business tool than more senior workers.
Another side effect of this is that Millennials may wind up having a better grasp on national and international events and trends. All one needs to do is logon to Twitter to see what’s happening around the World.
And that beats what older generations had to do by reading the newspaper or tuning into the evening news.
Smart businesses are learning to incorporate tech into their everyday efforts. These companies are using social media, smart platforms and ever-developing technological platforms to drive results. And they’re letting Millennials put their talents to work in doing so.
Case in point – I had a client that wanted to expand its social media and marketing presence. The position itself was fairly entry level, but this particular company was calling for someone with social media capability and a willingness to grow within the company.
The person who got the job, and has thrived in it since being placed, was a recent college grad who had almost zero traditional work experience but was a solid writer and knew how to manage organizational social media accounts from his days in college.
It was a smart fit. The employee wound up using modern technology and also was able to grow. He’s still there and has a major role within the company.
But it doesn’t stop here. According to Katherine Reynolds Lewis of Fortune.com, Millennials tend to not abandon friends, family or hobbies for their work. In response, smart companies have started to incorporate flexible schedules, paid sabbaticals, telecommuting options and other means for Millennials to maintain their ideal work-life balance.
This generation of young workers may have grown up in a digital world amid uncertainty and a shower of parental attention. But ultimately, they want the same thing that every employee wants: schedule control, meaningful work relationships, and choice of projects and learning opportunities.
The tide of the Millennial generation isn’t one to be stopped. It isn’t as if time will reverse itself and lend favor back to the Baby Boomer or Gen X groups.
And while the Millennials will probably get a bad reputation for a few more years, one has to remember this is the next group of innovators, problem-solvers and leaders our industry both craves and needs.
Rather than force the round peg into an antiquated square box, the smart move would be to reshape the box to create the ideal fit.