Millennials have now become more populous than baby boomers. And while baby boomers and gen X'ers still control the C suites, they will be hard-pressed to fill their vacancies if they are unwilling to attract millennials on their own terms. And these new graduates definitely have some terms that may go "against the grain" of their elders. Wise employers would do well to study up on this new group of employees and be prepared to make some concessions, if they intend to attract and keep talent.
Millennial Stereotyping -- It Has to Go
There are several stereotypical notions about millennials that must be discarded. The most common are as follows:
Millennials are lazy. They don't understand what putting in a full day's work means.
Millennials have been coddled and now think that the world owes them.
Millennials do not have staying power. They will switch jobs on a whim rather than remain loyal.
The Millennial Persona Regarding Work
Millennials are not opposed to hard work -- far from it. They are opposed to their value being a matter of "punching a time clock" every day and based on the amount of time they spend at the workplace as opposed to the results of their work, wherever it might be accomplished.
Millennials do not think the world owes them a life. They want a life outside of the workplace, however. While baby boomers and many gen X'ers pride themselves in the long hours they spend, often to the neglect of their families and friends, millennials see value in a better work/life balance.
Millennials do covet mobility. They want to be able to change jobs as often as might be necessary in order to take on new challenges and to join a workplace "culture" that is more suited to their needs. It is important to note that salary is not a key priority with this group -- benefits and work environment are. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook.
Millennials want to work for organizations that are socially responsible. Monsanto, J.P Morgan Chase, and the big oil companies are probably not their first choices when they craft those resumes and begin sending them out. They want to work for companies that care about the environment, about income inequality, about equal treatment, and about the suffering of those who are less fortunate -- all over the globe, in fact.
What Employers Must Offer in Exchange for Loyalty
No employer likes high turnover -- it's expensive. To gain the loyalty of new graduates, however, will take some thought shifts and some changes to the workplace itself.
Employers should offer flexible work hours and days. The focus must be on accomplishment, with the employee making decisions about when, and often from where, work will take place. Give them projects and a deadline and let them go to produce.
Offer meaningful and optional benefits. Other than insurances and a 401K, millennials are looking for additional benefits that will improve the quality of their personal lives -- perhaps a gym membership, season tickets to the symphony, or an expenses-paid annual conference in their career niche.
Establish horizontal rather than vertical organizational structures. New grads want to participate in problem-solving and decision-making activities. They want to feel comfortable making proposals and offering unique solutions.
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