Millennials in the Workforce

Part One – Hiring

I’m 57. A Boomer. I not supposed to enjoy or embrace hiring Millennials. We have all read the large volume of blogs, articles, and treatises on why Millennials are not satisfactory employees: Lazy, disloyal, lax work ethic, entitled, self-assured. With close to 40% of the current workforce Millennials and a projected 75% in the next 7-10 years, this is unsettling at best. Perhaps a new approach is in order.

A series of seemingly contradictory realities seem to exist. Despite perceived work ethic, according to many studies (University North Carolina, Forbes, HRMC) Millennials are very ambitious with jobs and career progression high amongst their priorities. There is great importance placed on personal growth. Then there’s the whole freedom and flexibility that us old folks (mis) interpret as lazy and/or disloyal instead, perhaps understanding that there are many sources calling this generation the most entrepreneurial generation of all time.

Millennials are much more likely than we were to speak their mind, voice their opinions and to follow up to push for the outcomes that they believe in. The conclusion for many is that this is a result of their ‘entitled’ attitude. If we dig deeper, understand that as a social group they encourage each other to succeed, they have a sense of security from parents who are more engaged and supportive than previous generations to attitudes of individuality and self-exploration – perhaps we can see these behaviors as signs of being self-starters, visionary risk-takers. Expressed in these terms we can admire these traits, not deride them.

Debunking the Stereotype of the Millennial

If Boomers and Gen-X employers can push aside the stereotypes that we have absorbed, perhaps we can realize the creativity, spirit, fortitude and energy that can be tapped to drive our businesses. We need to excite them.

millennials and your organization Attracting and retaining this valuable, entrepreneurial talent pool requires some change on our part. The process would logically start with recruitment. Many companies have laborious, antiquated and largely unnecessary processes. The application: there is often much-unneeded data collected – do we REALLY need their home phone (they might not have one), my 20-somethings only use e-mail when required. Instead of just allowing someone to send a resume we often require elaborate forms or applications, seemingly unnecessary and burdensome to this efficient and quick audience.  How about just having a google doc portal?

Millennials in your Organization

Next step is engagement and again, applicants often get form responses, slow responses or none. Millennials want to be wanted and if we can’t show that we’ve done any measure of our homework about who they are they will disrespect US and quickly disengage.

How about all those antique, often closed out job postings on our website – Millennials expect transparency and prompt communication – (respect). My team of recruiters comments consistently that there is ‘no one on the boards’ – why would there be. On-line applications are a black hole and do not provide Millennials with the experience they seek.

The hiring process for most companies’ spans anywhere from 3-4 weeks to 3 months or more, meanwhile requiring more frustrating paperwork and process. For the ambitious entrepreneur, this is a poor reflection on the company,

The interview process can often resemble an interrogation – Employers, frustrated by their lack of success with hires (largely because of how they treat Millennials in the workplace – see my NEXT BLOG) are trying to hedge their bets by applying old-school tactics. Millennials want THEIR QUESTIONS answered. They have choices and we need to understand that and woo them. Listen to their questions and adapt where we can. This generation, as inferred above, wants to make an impact and we need to reassure them in the interview that they will have a path to do so.

This isn’t to say that we should not be rigorous – we should, while remaining flexible and making sure we meet the needs to the prospect. Applied correctly this rigor will energize and attract the prospective employee who is just as likely to be turned off if there is not enough detail as they are by mounds of fettered process.

Hiring Millennials: A New Perspective

Quoting our resident Millennial, @SarahLarson “That is the crucial factor to the millennial mentality that most people overlook during the hiring process and interacting with them in general.  Millennials were raised believing that they could accomplish anything they put their mind too, they could be anything they want to be.  So if you can be anything chances are you are going to pick something idealistic, that makes a difference and impact, and does good for the world.  You have to show millennials how your job or company can be part of that.  Because if yours doesn’t there are many others that do. “

Bottom line for successfully tapping and farming this valuable and large talent pool is to have an understanding of their perspectives, applying necessary and reasonable changes to our process to embrace their needs.