Millennials are quickly changing the makeup of our workforce. Born between 1981 and 2000, they make up 1/3 of today’s workforce. Some estimates say that, with the retirement of Baby Boomers, the largest working group and the smaller population of Gen X (born from 1961-1980), Millennials will comprise 3/4 of the workforce by 2025!
We’ve all heard disparaging comments about Millennials – they feel entitled, hop from job to job, and can’t keep their faces away from their phones. A more productive viewpoint is that they come with fresh perspectives and bring tech-savvy ideas. They are more efficient. Their communication arrives through blogs, Facebook, IM, and text messaging, on small computers that their elders refer to as cell phones. Gen Y finds answers immediately and can move on to problem solving from the instant data.
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Millennials are the future of your company, so it helps to know what they look for in employers. First, they want to grow. And that means leaving a job if it doesn’t provide the development that they crave. Their average job tenure is two years.
A study by Comp TIA found that 70% of Gen Y’s place great value on certifications. An employer can use their need for growth and certification to the business’ advantage through state apprenticeship programs that provide funding to train your workforce.
Millennials are also more entrepreneurial and less loyal. So if you don’t like their fresh, new ideas, they may move on. So how do you retain millennials in your company? Keep stimulating them with training. They’ll continue to rise to the challenge. Because they grew up in the information age, they are resourceful enough to find answers and problem solve. With development, they’ll be effective managers in a short time.
One more important point. Millennials crave work that makes a difference. Most work is meaningful if presented the right way. Consider the story about a man who pounded rocks for a living. When asked why he picked up that sledgehammer day after day, he said, “I’m developing the raw materials to build a cathedral.” It’s all in the perspective. Helping Millennials find the “cathedral” in their work creates a better chance of retaining them.
Millennials don’t live to work; they work to live. They watched their parents slog through punishing hours only to become an inconvenient line item during economic downturns. They don’t care as much about salaries as they do about balance – time to travel or work on pet projects. And if the work interferes with their pleasure, they will quit. Employers have to consider flexibility if they expect to keep their young talent.
So – what to do? First, look at your employees. For every Baby Boomer in your restaurant or store or service, insert the face of a Millennial. That will be your workforce in a few short years. Develop those faces into the talented, experienced workforce you’ll need. The benefits will be well worth the effort.
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