People born between 1980 and 2000 have been dubbed Millennials. This group is a topic of conversation across most businesses today. In 2015, a tipping point in the United States was reached in which Millennials outnumbered the previous generation in the workforce. It therefore is important to understand them and be effective at hiring and retaining them.
Philosophically, there is considerable debate about the accuracy of isolating groups of people generationally. There is also a great danger of stereotyping people, which is potentially libelous as well. Therefore, when talking about and to your workforce, I would definitely avoid the label. Nevertheless, there are certain implications for hiring and employment practices that you will need to master if you are going to attract and retain a high performing workforce in the future. Understanding Millennials will be critical to your future success.
· Every generation is uncomfortable with the next generation. Millennials are not better or worse; they just are.
· Millennials have grown up with technology and are more comfortable with it than previous generations. Through technology, they are highly connected with the outside world and other people. This connectedness gives them more benchmarks and more choice in terms of employment than any previous generation. They can and will compare you to other employers, and they can and will tell people about this and share better opportunities with their connections.
· Millennials are probably the most diverse group of people in your company.
· Millennials are the first generation that grew up with the internet as standard. Paul Armstrong writes: “Open source, collaboration, [and] unlimited knowledge and access has been a ‘right’ for this group since they were old enough to know what a keyboard is” (from Disruptive Technologies: Understand, Evaluate, Respond, 2017).
There are implications in terms of the hiring and employment of Millennials that need to be understood and incorporated into your employee value proposition, candidate attraction strategies, work design, and employment. Here are just a few:
· Harness the Millennial’s connections in creating and keeping alive alumni groups. This is going to be a much more mobile workforce, and you need to accept that they will leave. Change your paradigm so that you start to work with their idea of a career (multiple companies, geographies, and roles). If you do this well, they will become advocates and a source of future hires, and in addition they may come back themselves. Keeping in touch with former employees will be critical.
· Let them take charge. In terms of hiring, areas such as talents pools, alumni groups, and strategic university relationships can be better managed by this group than centralized in the HR department. Yes, this will lead to a loss of control, but it will also result in better connections and better access to talent.
· Commit to their training. Millennials want to learn. When they stop learning, they will likely move on. When hiring, talk about training, development, stretch, and challenge (and then ensure that this is the reality of their work experience). Be ready to break current myths about how long it takes before someone should be allowed to do something. Training should be interactive, real, ongoing, reinforced, and not one-off, off site, and with the trainer in transmit only mode.
· Continue to set clear goals with timescales and clear performance expectations. Everyone performs better with goals and needs to know what is expected of them. Focus more on the output or result when defining expectations.
· Don’t try to shut down their social media. It won’t work and it will harm your employment relationship. Harness this for your hiring attraction and brand marketing. Coach those who cannot find the right balance and ultimately impose consequences if it leads to poor performance, but do not constrain the whole group simply because a few don’t get it. If you try, they will simply find an alternative employer who is more open-minded about social media.
When it comes to Millennials, the trick is to be more explicit about the intent and a bit more courageous with the implementation.
The preceding is adapted from The Right Hire: Attract and Retain the Best People by Lisette Howlett ©2018 by Sandler Systems, Inc. and published with permission from Sandler Training.
For more information, please visit: https://www.sandler.com/sandler-books/the-right-hire