Just last year, millennials surpassed both Gen Xers and Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the American workforce. And by the end of 2016, a good majority of baby boomers will be getting ready to retire, opening more doors for the next generation of 20-30 year olds to fill those jobs.
As millennials get more comfortable in the workplace, we will see them take over leadership or at least influencer roles. So whether you like it or not, you’re going to face hiring and/or working with a millennial, sooner rather than later.
If you search the web, you may be led to believe that millennials are entitled, expect constant feedback and praise, and think they can change the world. They are said to demand high salaries, with jobs that must be flexible and meaningful to their lives. Let’s be honest with ourselves, we thought pretty highly of ourselves too, whether it was in our first job or as we worked our way up the ranks. I admit, I did think I was changing the world and I asked for salary increases and raises that I probably didn’t deserve — although I thought I did. And we’ve all searched and demanded meaningful work during our time and hopefully we’ve reached that goal.
So are these the attributes that define this generation? The reality is that millennials are probably the most well educated generation of our time. And there is a lot of talent in this pool of 18-34 year olds that can add great value to our organizations.
It would be unfortunate to judge a whole population of individuals based on what we’ve read or heard in the popular media.
Millennials have a place in our workforce. And they aren’t looking for a trophy just to show up, they are actually very entrepreneurial, willing to adapt, and ready to put in the time it takes to get to their idea of a great job.
Here are 4 ways to help you hire and work with millennials.
1. Consider educational attainment over experience. A recent college graduate isn’t going to have a stellar resume and we can’t expect them to have all of the experience that we need for them to take on the job. Part of what is so attractive about millennials is that they are prolific learners and that means that they will put in the time, rather quickly, to learn the inner workings and details to do the job. They are young and hungry and those are really good traits.
2. Create opportunities for mobility. It’s true that millennials are willing to “job-hop.” So just know that going in. They want to be challenged and have the opportunity to move around the organization. If your company can’t provide mobility, then they will go find it elsewhere. So rather than fighting the job hopping mentality, its more effective to adjust the corporate culture to allow for new and better opportunities for young employees. And remember that for these workers, mobility doesn’t have to be upward, it can be lateral too. They just want plenty of prospects. Engage them, make them responsible and accountable, and expose them to a diverse array of mentors, peers, and leaders.
3. Redefine how and why your organization is changing the world. At some point, many of us have considered working for a huge Fortune 500 company. And millennials find that notion interesting too. We’ve got to remember how they have grown up—tons of exposure to education, living with helicopter parents, experiencing life through social media. All of these things have lead them to the idea that they need something meaningful in a career, that they need to make an impact, and that they need to change lives.
As leaders, we believe that our company is benefiting people at some level. So this is actually a great exercise in bringing that idea back to the forefront of your organization.
4. Provide mentorship and leadership. Millennials thrive when a superior takes them under their wing. They pretty much want a career coach. Someone that can show them the way through the organization and lead them to new and fulfilling projects. More than one coach is most likely acceptable with these 20-30 somethings, as they prefer a broad spectrum of opinions and guidance. And remember, they are a generation of learners, so new ideas and ways of thinking are important to this group. Knowledge will lead these millennials to excellence in your organization.
So include millennials in your mission. Give them a chance. I think that you will find that they are huge assets to your organization and will turn out to be your leaders of the future.