By Vicki Thomas
When a senior executive once told me she had to delay a meeting to attend a “required” internal program on how to engage and work with Millennials, I knew it for certain: A new generation had truly arrived to present both challenges and opportunities to employers — if only they could find a job.
Who Are the Millennials?
The millennials, also called Generation Y, include in the U.S. about 80 million individuals born between 1982 and 2001. Leading-edge millennials are in their 20s. Younger millennials are in grade school and middle school.
This generation was raised by younger, loving baby boom parents, who showered them with attention and filled their days with planned activities. They were raised to be self-confident, and, when their days were not filled with activities, they were quick to get bored.
They grew up with ear buds, iTunes, smartphones, apps, the Internet — and they found their primary source of entertainment on the computer, and not in front of a television. They are the most technically savvy generation yet, and have invented a new short-cut language of modern terms, many of which have even reached the Baby Boomers. (At this point, aren’t we all speaking their language? OMG, like LOL! WTF, BFF!) Of course, many say they’ve murdered the English language and can’t write a complete sentence that goes beyond 140 characters.
Perhaps most importantly, marketers and businesses are beginning to pay more attention to the millennial generation and its influence on consumer spending and corporate attitudes.
What Do We Know About Millennials?
Right now, millennials are the workers who have been hardest hit by the bad economy. The news is filled with stories about millennials graduating from college under the burden of huge student loans, and moving back home with their parents because they can’t find a job or even an internship. Unemployment is between two and three times higher for millennials than for older workers.
And, by Christmas, another 45,000 mostly millennials will be returning from Iraq — unemployed by the military, and looking for jobs. Companies should give this group of highly trained individuals serious consideration because of their ability to work well under pressure, think and respond quickly, and, of course, there’s also the $5,600 tax credit for hiring a veteran.
Four Tips When Hiring Millennials
When hiring millennials, know that they are very good at multi-tasking. They respect authority and want to have access to and a relationship with the boss. They value structure in the work place. One of their business heroes is Steve Jobs. They have an entrepreneurial spirit and drive for owning their own business someday.
Also know that they are not loyal. If you offer them a job for X amount of dollars and they accept, and another company offers them more money two months from now, they’re likely to jump at the opportunity and may even neglect to give you the proper two-week notice.
Knowing all that you already know about millennials and have heard from others, here are four additional tips to help you employ, engage and develop millennials for jobs in your company:
1. Have a Well-Written Job Description: Be clear about the job description. Outline exactly what duties they will be responsible for, identify who they will report to, and describe the department’s function within the company
2. Assign a Mentor: Assign the millennial employee(s) a mentor who will provide an orientation to your company, its history, its mission and its core values. Millennials are great networkers and want to feel that they’re part of a viable team.
3. Identify Accountability Guidelines: If your company issues weekly call reports or weekly summaries, then let the millennials know about weekly, monthly and quarterly deadlines. Show them the system that will be used to issue reports and explain how those reports should be filed, and by when. Identify what the department defines as a success. Tell them what they are accountable for and whom they are accountable to.
Millennials also need to know what system is in place to bring up new ideas. When new ideas are discussed with other team members, let them know their ideas are being reviewed and ask for their input. Remember, Millennials are great multi-takers, and they get bored easily.
4. They Are Tech Savvy: Remember, this generation grew up with the smart phone, apps, the Internet and the personal computer. They are skilled users of social media, particularly Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and Twitter. If your company is slow on the use of social media, leverage your millennials to come up with a plan that would improve your social media use within the company.
Millennial employees have a thirst for knowledge. If your company is an exciting place to work, and good internal communications exist, then not only will younger workers enjoy the environment, all workers will — no matter what generation they belong to.
President of Thomas & Partners, Vicki Thomas is one of the nation’s leading authorities on mid-life consumers. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published: Nov 18, 2011