Millennials are the most ethnically diverse generation in the workforce in U.S. history. They grew up with digital technology. They have an entrepreneurial spirit. They’ve been called many things: socially aware, tech-savvy, go-getters who don’t take no for an answer.
They’ve also been called narcissistic, social media-obsessed, selfie-taking, entitled children. They get labelled as ‘job-hoppers’, a generation always looking for the ‘next best thing’.
But are these really bad things? Or are Millennials just looking for the right thing and unlike the Boomers and Gen-Xers, they’re not satisfied to settle for anything less?
In 2017, Millennials make up 45% of the workforce. It is predicted by a Deloitte Millennial Survey that they are expected to make up 75% of the workforce in 2025.
Millennials are the future of business. While the Boomers and Gen X-ers still make up a good percentage of the workforce, Millennials are changing the dynamic of the workplace. Employers increasingly need to find ways to entice them to stay in a job, to help them grow and invest in the future of that company. Yet, with their search for the ‘next best thing’ always on the horizon, keeping and retaining this newer generation is a challenge and it is a challenge businesses are learning to embrace.
The difference between the attitudes of a Millennial vs. a Gen X-er was explained quite succinctly during a panel at the 2016 TechServe Alliance conference presented by Jim Lanzalotto, a Senior VP at Monster Worldwide. He stated that Millennials have no fear of retribution – they have something to say and they want you to hear it. Where older generations might censor how they speak to a manager and hold back what they really want to say for fear of consequences; Millennials just say it. The attitude being “Why wouldn’t I say it?” vs. “Why on earth would I say that?”.
Remote technology has made physical presence an option for many companies, and they allow employees to work from home at least once a week.
Herein lies the key to understanding Millennials. From the dawn of online instant messaging, to the many mobile messaging platforms of today, Millennials simply view communication differently. Their world moves faster because technology makes it so. The average Millennial spends 5.4 hours a day on social media and check their smartphones 43 times a day on average. This fact has lent itself to the rise of working remotely.
To the older generations, working remotely is a luxury and man still prefer to actually go into the office citing that they don’t feel as productive at home and get more done in the office. Millennials prefer a flexible work time, a flexible work place, the ability to choose what they’re working on. It is a generational difference in attitude that savvy employers are embracing in order to retain younger talent.
Millennials ultimately want to control their own destiny. They want both job satisfaction and satisfaction in their personal lives. The fact is that if they don’t see or feel that their employer is going to provide the right tools to get a head start on a successful life, they will leave their job in search of one that can. They want a company to help with their career while still being in charge of said career. In the current workplace, 91% of Millennials surveyed expect to stay at a job for less than 3 years, 30% expect to leave their job within the next year and 43% said they were open to new offers.
So, how can an employer retain Millennials, knowing that they are always looking for something better and brighter? Why would you want to if they’re always looking for something bigger and better?
The answer lies in embracing this attitude rather than fighting it. Empowering the Millennial generation and helping them grow is a key to their success. They are a generation that needs constant feedback, due in large part to the instant gratification of social media. Facebook posts are “liked”, Tweets are re-tweeted…Millennials need approval and positive affirmation. Thus, encouragement and regular feedback in the workplace goes a long way.
And, let’s face it; they are more tech-savvy than any other generation, which should be embraced and cultivated by any forward-thinking business.
Helping Millennial employees grow and develop will improve retention. Career paths must exist for them to stay interested and if one isn’t there, employers should consider creating one that will tap into this need to grow and develop. It may involve creating a new title, new steps…something that will make Millennials feel that their careers can go somewhere and not remain stagnant.
Of course, nothing is easy. Currently, 55% of the workforce is composed of Gen X-ers and baby-boomers. The workforce cannot survive without these older, more seasoned employees and a balance with the Millennials is crucial. It’s not an easy road but it’s one that employers must learn to balance in order to have the best of both worlds. Their voices are not quiet…they may ask why they don’t get the advantages that the Millennials have. Why can’t they work from home? Why don’t they get a fancy title? The difference is…they never asked. Millennials do. They’re brazen and they’re confident. They’re unafraid. They’re the future.