Are Millennials Wreaking Havoc on Employers? Or Vice Versa?
“Help! The inmates are running the asylum!” may be the cry these days running through the heads of many business owners who have multi-generational employees.
This is to say that owners are struggling with the rapid rise of this younger segment of the workforce, and the way these employees refuse to behave the way their predecessors did -- a scenario creating a wave of chaos in human resources departments. Let me explain further.
Much research has been done and many articles written on the millennials segment (young people born between 1982 and 2004, meaning employees aged 21 to 33) and their impact in the workforce. I personally never paid much attention to the issue until one of my clients experienced the impact of the millennials firsthand and passed on lessons he learned, which I'm passing on to you.
Those lessons may come in handy: Millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2030, only 15 years from now. So, in my mind, you need to incorporate these lessons into your employee recruiting and retention programs . . . and fast!
What employers are seeing
Recruiting, retention and loyalty. Many millennials do not see the need to stay at any one employer for more than a year, and worse yet, they actually think it benefits their career to move from company to company. This is the extreme opposite of the baby boomer generation, when workers could stay at one company for decades. This is creating torture for recruiting.
Positions that used to be filled for an average of three years at a time are now turning over annually, creating three times as much work for the HR department. And companies are not hiring three times the recruiters to keep up with that additional work, so recruiting is taking much longer, positions are not getting filled fast enough and work productivity has slowed dramatically in recent years.
Changing demands. Many millennials are driven by:
- a desire to have a big impact and “change the world” (they want to work for companies with a purpose greater than simply driving revenues)
- jobs that offer management responsibilities out of the gate (not simply being a cog in the wheel);
- managers that can relate to them as people, friends and equals (not a boss-and-subordinate relationship)
- incentives that are material and provide more than simply cash (perhaps including equity or other meaningful upsides)
What Millennials Are Seeing
An experience completely opposite to that of their parents' generation. This includes many millennials not being able to find jobs after college graduation. The reason is that the older generation is not retiring as early and not opening up jobs at the bottom end of the jobs funnel. Hence, have many millennials are:
- living with their parents longer, often into their 30s
- are saddled with large college debt costs and no way to pay them down.
Not a great position to be in.
Mismanaged expectations. Many millennials were raised in a kids' culture of “everyone wins a trophy” regardless of their skills or performance (as early as the Little League soccer fields). They are not seeing that same treatment or experience as they enter their adult years, which constitutes a reality check right in the face.
So, my recommendation to millennials
Embrace the fact that you are a part of an economic society of workers, not the center of it. While your managers and peers may have years of learnings and experience to share with you, life is a two-way street, where give and take, and common courtesy (e.g., a two-week notice before departure, plans to stay at least a year), should be the norm.
Help educate your employers on what your desires and motivations are, so they can learn. And be sensitive to your employer’s needs and the direct impact your actions have on compounding those painpoints. Also, for goodness' sake, if you find a good company with a good manager, stick with it. There is no rule that you need to leave after a year.
And, my recommendation to employers
It is time to wake up and smell the coffee. If you are waiting for the workplace to return back to the “good old days,” forget about it. Figure out how to better mentor millennials to your desired behaviors. Or, better yet, take some mentorship from them, so you can better learn what they are looking for from their employers, and give it to them.
Give them the challenging roles, with the friendly managers and “change the world” goals they are looking for, and good things will happen to your company culture and employee retention in the process.
Millennials and employers need to learn to play nicer together, in the same sandbox of employment. Be sensitive to and respectful of the needs of the other party, and do your best to create an environment and actions that will be well received by all involved.
Now, start with this “clean slate” fresh perspective, hug and make up and let’s start building something great together.