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Think You Know the Meaning of 'FOMO'? For Some Companies, It's 'Fear of Millennials in the Office.'

Use these four questions to help you overcome your fears prompted by all those myths circulating about Generation Y.
Think You Know the Meaning of 'FOMO'? For Some Companies, It's 'Fear of Millennials in the Office.'
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Just when we old folks figured out the meaning of SMH (shaking my head) and ROTF (rolling on the floor, as in laughing), we heard the phrase FOMO and were back to square one.

Related: 5 Reasons Millennials Shouldn't Depend on a 9-to-5 Job

Thanks to Google, though, we learned that FOMO means "fear of missing out." You've got to hand it to millennials: They're a clever bunch. 

In fact, they're more than clever. The Forbes 2016 billionaires list is packed with the young and brilliant, like Evan Spiegel (Snapchat), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Daniel Fine (Glass-U). And the impact their generation has had on the global economy and society's interactions is undeniable. 

But while the business community has learned to embrace this age group's idiosyncrasies, some business leaders remain reticent about hiring them. Previously, they were seen as "lazy" and "spoiled." More recently, their loyalty has been called into question -- a concern without merit. But what may have merit -- which I've heard from the companies my own company works with, building sales forces -- is that in some cases FOMO now means "fear of millennials in the office." One reason: their reluctance to stay put.

There is data to support this description. Deloitte’s 2016 global Millennials survey, which reached out to 7,700 young people in 29 countries, found that a staggering two-thirds of them planned to leave their organizations by 2020. 

But even this description of millennials may be antiquated simply because of millennials' numbers.  With 83 million members, Generation Y now makes up the largest sector of the U.S. population and by 2025 will make up 75 percent of the workforce

And, as with any generation, there will be both strong candidates and bad apples.  The bottom line is that companies must learn to hire high-performing millennials to succeed in a rapidly changing economy. But, how to identify them? To help business leaders overcome FOMO, here are four questions to ask during the job interview:

1. Have you ever been passed over for a promotion, and how did you respond?

Millennials are known as the “Trophy Generation.” Growing up, they received plaques just for competing in the spelling bee; it did not matter if they won. A PWC study found that 41 percent of millennials surveyed wanted to be recognized monthly, compared to just 30 percent of those from other generations. 

Lee Caraher, author of Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making It Work at Work, said, “This question [have you been passed over for a promotion?] will show you whether they understand that everyone can’t win in everything, and how resilient they are.”

For all their strengths, millennials need to demonstrate they can overcome just as much adversity as the generations that preceded them. This question will help you assess if the candidate before you has the intestinal fortitude to fight when the chips are down.

2. What are your short- and long-term career goals, and how do you plan on achieving them?

 Gallup's latest report, How Millennials Want to Work and Live, revealed that 59 percent of millennials surveyed said that opportunities to learn and grow were extremely important to them, compared to 44 percent of Gen-Xers and 41 percent of baby boomers.

While previous generations primarily homed in on money as their objective, young candidates today want to know that there is career growth in their future. They want to know there is the chance to take on new and interesting projects that will have a material impact on the company and its people. 

By asking a career-focused question you can not only identify whether the candidate has identified his or her career goals, but whether this individual is disciplined enough to invest the time and energy to map out how these goals will be achieved. You can then compare these goals against your organization’s talent plan to see if there is alignment, thus reducing future turnover rates. 

Related: Millennials Spend 18 Hours a Day Consuming Media -- And It's Mostly Content Created By Peers

3. Would you rather work in the office or at home? 

Technological advancements -- many developed by millennials -- have given all of us more ability to work remotely than ever before.  In fact, nearly 70 percent of millennials have said that an option to work remotely would increase their interest in a specific employer. Depending on your company's culture and industry category, working remotely may or may not be an option you offer.

However, this question is important to ask up front, to ensure each side understands the expectations of the role and the desires of the candidate moving forward.               

4. What kinds of sacrifices have you made to be successful? Please explain. 

Another stigma millennials face -- whether justified or not -- is that they are a coddled bunch that do not understand the work ethic. It's important to ask this question to determine if the candidate before you has the will to overcome adversity.

Tom Alexander, CEO of PK4 Media  – listed as one of America’s fastest-growing companies -- recently said, “During an interview, we asked this question and one millennial candidate explained how for weeks, she was unable to get time with her boss to pitch a ground-breaking idea. She overheard that the boss was coming into the office on Saturday, so she showed up bright and early. The boss was so impressed that she ended up using the idea; it boosted profits; and their working relationship improved ten-fold from that point forward.”

Related: How to Motivate Millennials, By Millennials

With an aging workforce and a scarcity of qualified talent, then, the message is that "fear of millennials in the office" is no longer an option. By asking the above interview questions, you will reduce your hiring risk and increase the probability that your next millennial hire will help take your company to the next level.

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