The largest generation in U.S. history is entering prime working and spending years, leaving more businesses to face the question, what do they want from a job?
“Since millennials will comprise one-third of all U.S. adults by 2020, and will make up an estimated 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, how to relate and manage these individuals is a very relevant and important topic for the business community and especially HR professionals to consider,” said Sarah Scudder, chief growth officer with The Sourcing Group.
It’s a print-management company based in Rohnert Park, where she hires, manages and leads millennials. Five years ago she founded the Young Innovators Group with the goal of focusing on innovation as a way to attract, hire and retain more people in this age group to the industry.
‘EARN THEIR EMPLOYEE’S LOYALTY’
“Employers today face a new kind of accountability and have to earn their employee’s loyalty,” said Elaina Marie, a leadership and employee engagement consultant and author of “Happiness is Overrated-Live the Inspired Life.” “With such compelling numbers entering the labor market, it’s time to warm up our collective empathy muscles for millennials, strive to understand them and learn how to focus their energies and leverage their strengths.”
Both Marie and Scudder were born in April 1983 and so are part of the 91 million people born between 1980 and 2000 who hear the beat of a different drummer than Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964) and generation Xers or centennials (1965–1976).
Some say they are disloyal (since they are not afraid to leave jobs about every two years), shallow, self-obsessed (narcissistic), easily distracted, lazy, entitled, impatient, still living with parents, wanting instant satisfaction and tough to manage, as described by Time Magazine in May 2013 and other sources. As a whole, millennials don’t believe in “hard work” without purpose and have difficulty handling boredom.
Others see them as seeking a mission and purpose, philanthropic, desiring to make an impact, open-minded, liberal, passionate about equality, upbeat, more tech-savvy than other generations, and connected — with emphasis on electronic communication through social media networking.
In a 2012 survey, 1,189 employees and 150 managers reported millennials as saying: “They want to make the world a better place” (64 percent), “I want to be my own boss” (72 percent), “I want a flexible work schedule” (74 percent) and “My boss should serve as a coach/mentor (79 percent).” At the same time, a majority (89 percent) prefers a collaborative work culture in contrast to a competitive one.
RAND Corporation consultant, author and speaker, Simon Sinek, said that millennials “see the summit, but not the mountain itself. They want more money and advancement now, but have to learn patience and realize success is often a long journey with incremental steps to reach the peak. The motivation behind what a firm does, true transparency, can include factors millennials desire to emulate. This is more important than just what the company makes and its product or service features.”
Change and innovation found among many North Bay employers may even be a lure to millennials, said Jim Geist, regional vice president for Nelson and Associates in the North Bay.
“The NorCal culture is more empathetic and in tune with the Millennial generation. My experience with Sonoma State University grads shows that while some may have entitlement issues, I’ve also seen the polar opposite. The definition of happiness is the difference between expectation and reality. The majority of kids coming out of college are realistic, hopeful, hard working and earnest.”
He said there is always a learning curve when it comes to meeting employer expectations.
“While more traditional firms are still looking for employees to stay 10 to 15 years, the labor market is tight right now, so if an employer can get two years of loyalty from a new hire it is considered to be a win. People are starting to accept the fact that career mobility is ok. Rapid turnover is not specific to millennials.”
Geist said that as millennials move into careers, employers have to measure and consider their expectations, and whether their expectations are a match for the real world.
He said, “Here at Nelson we are using the same ‘culture touch’ communication modes (texting, etc.) used by our applicants, and also helping to educate our clients about the amount of staff movement in the market and the need to move quickly to extend a job offer rather than waiting four to six weeks.”
Recruiting millennials is different. “You have to ask yourself, why would a millennial want to work for you?” said Marie. “If your answer is for the money, or that they are lucky to have a job, you will not cultivate engagement or loyalty.”
She believes attracting quality millennials includes having an employer brand with a clear purpose, vision, mission and values – including the WHY behind what a firm does and the sincere personal beliefs of management in what they do. It also includes philanthropy as part of the culture, incorporates technology and offers job descriptions that encompass meaningful work and value creation.
Marie cited a mission statement in a job posting from The John Maxwell Company…”To deliver world-class marketing communications for the John Maxwell Brand that inspires and creates emotional engagement which moves people into the action we desire.”
Scudder said job listings should focus on desired outcomes, key skills and attributes needed, along with goals (revenue drivers), vital functions, a timetable for meeting key priorities (such as during the first six months we expect you to…), as well as metrics, improvements expected and other initiatives to give the candidate a complete picture of the position and a sense of purpose.
“Candidates need to be able to assess whether they have what it takes to be successful in this position. Asking questions that speak to values is important, such as: Do you value working at a firm with an innovative, professional environment where you will have an opportunity to play a critical role in building a successful business? If you think this describes you, send in a video along with your resume telling the firm’s HR people why you believe this job is for you.”
“Using inspiration as a tool to experience true happiness can lead to greater fulfillment, joy and satisfaction both on and off the job,” said Marie. “This is not just philosophy, but a proven technique for leaders to use when instilling their sense of passion, mission and purpose in millennials and all new hires.”